Canada’s first shopping apartment offers real-life retail in a tiny downtown Toronto condo
Financial Post
Hollie Shaw
15 July 2015

So-called “experiential retail” — offering improved service and in-store pleasantries such as free tea and cookies — is on the rise.

But Toronto interior designer Nike Onile has taken experiential retail to a whole new level with Canada’s first shopping apartment, housed inside a tiny downtown condo where people can purchase au courant décor.

In keeping with the concept, people can buy more than just furniture and throw pillows at The Apt by 800 Sq. Ft.: Literally everything is for sale, from the paintings on the walls to the kitchen’s glassware and cutting boards, the beauty products and towels in the bathroom, the clothes in the bedroom closet, and the colourful chocolates and cakes on the kitchen counter.

It’s a creative way, Onile said, of solving many consumers’ execution blindness: They have trouble visualizing products inside a different space.

“In a regular shop, things are often kind of placed in multiples, and you can’t really get any sense of how it would look in a home,” Onile, 31, said in a recent showing of her retail condo. “That’s why staging (the practice of adding décor and home furnishings to houses that are for sale) happened. People walk into an empty home and think, ‘Oh, I don’t know if this would work.’ Then you put furniture in it, and people say ‘Oh yes, I could totally live here.’ It’s the same kind of concept, it’s coming into a space where you can buy everything that you love.”

Onile didn’t intend to open her business inside an apartment, but was forced to get creative when she looked at the high costs of urban retail real estate. Fortunately, Toronto’s condo housing boom afforded her a natural downtown space to carry the retail goods sold by her design company, 800 Sq. Ft., when she was looking for a space to showcase the goods sold on her website.

“I wanted to open up a furniture shop and I knew it had to be in the middle of the city,” said Onile, whose firm specializes in design for small spaces like condominiums. “This was the solution for that.”

The Apt. by 800 Sq. Ft. operates by appointment only, and hosts three to four shopping parties a month for customers to browse and buy items such as the groovy Renwil pendant light ($650) or a $49 Pamuk & Co. Turkish cotton towel. Because shopping is done only after making an appointment at, Onile does not have to operate her 500-square-foot business within a zoned retail space.

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On her website Onile lists the times for her shopping parties.

JULY 24                               JULY 25
12 PM – 2 P                          12 PM – 2 PM
5 PM – 7 PM                          5 PM – 7 PM
7 PM – 9 PM                          7 PM – 9 PM

Wait, there's more:
Besides shopping The Apt will also be having regular shopping parties, artist showcases, dinners and can even be rented out for a meeting, or a private party.

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