Nestled on a corner of Vancouver's poshest shopping district on West 13th Avenue just off Granville Street is Oliver and Lilly's. If a passerby is lucky to notice it, they are in for a real treat. Upon walking into this little gem, one gets the feeling of being in some adorable Parisian neighbourhood where all the women walk around looking effortlessly chic.
The store itself is a great mixture of modern and rustic design. At first glance, one is greeted by a curved metal desk and minimalist space with stark white walls, columns and ceiling. But then rustic elements emerge: the large floor-to-ceiling skinny tree branch resting on a column, the brick jewellery display table, the incredibly tall dark wood shelving unit. It's an elegant space but also warm and welcoming.
Oliver and Lilly's is a brainchild of Leighann Boquist, a retail and merchandising veteran whose bubbly personality shines throughout the store. It was very much a family effort, with her and her husband setting up and designing the store with the help of her cousin who also built all the woodwork. Now in her third year of business, Boquist is settled and well-established in the area. "The overall vision for the store was to create this little neighbourhood pocket store," she explains. "I know it sounds kind of funny, but we wanted to compare it to a little neighbourhood grocery store where you could pop in and grab something."
The merchandise has a very easy-going feel, where nothing is pretentious: just great quality design. Oliver and Lilly's carries some New York City favourites like Steven Alan, Ali Ro, James Jeans and knitwear by Demy Lee, as well the quintessential California darling, Heidi Merrick. Of course, Vancouver is well represented: Ella Peru, up-and-comer Su-Hui's exceptional womenswear label; CuchÃ¨ Bikinis, a local line creating fun and fabulous swimwear that should appeal to any girl under the sun; and Nicole Ginsberg, whose delicate jewellery is making the rounds with the chicest women in town.
Even though the store is small, one can easily spend a hefty amount of time perusing the racks and displays, perhaps looping around it twice just in case they missed anything. Whether shopping for stylish basics, getting ready for a night on the town, or even shopping with a beach vacation in mind, Oliver and Lilly's has something extraordinary in store.
For more information, visit oliverandlillys.com (http://www.oliverandlillys.com/).