Off Broadway Clothing Boutique, where quality and respect matter

October 24, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

If you were a fan of and a regular shopper at Off Broadway Clothing Boutique on Mill Street, and wonder where it went, Heather Burke, the owner and founder, would love you to know she is now actually at 121 Broadway, next to the nearly and newly opened Lavender Blue shop.

“When my lease on Mill Street came up, friends encouraged me to move to Broadway,” she said, by way of simple explanation for the move. “It’s a great location, right in the middle of all the great shops and places to eat. Orangeville has such a beautiful down town.” 

Ms Burke has a lifetime of working in the industry.

“That’s what made me decide to have a shop of my own,” she told the Citizen. “I worked, first, as a sales associate and, then, moved on as a manager, buyer for Marks and Spencer’s. Up in Arthur, I got into the buying part and learning the business. I worked for Body Graphics here in Orangeville for a while too.”

Working with the famous British shop, Marks and Spencer’s, was an excellent learning place for Ms. Burke. 

She said, “At Marks and Spencer’s, the importance of quality and respect mattered very much. It’s a while ago but your superiors were addressed by Mr. and Mrs. It was the value of how they are extremely conscious of quality. I was in head office and watched the rigorous treatment of goods, testing them for quality. Washing a garment many times to see how it stood up to the treatment.”

The lessons have stayed with her: “I’ve always worked for quality companies. I’m also very much aware of eco businesses. We’re not fast fashion here. I try to carry as many Canadian brands as I can. We deal with Parkhurst Cotton Country sweaters, the ones I love the most. They hire Canadians and they hire immigrants, even if they don’t speak much English, to make their sweaters of recycled cotton.”

Owned and managed by Steven Borsook, the grandson of founder, Louis Borsook in 1926, Parkhurst is now one of the last remaining knitting mills in Canada.

It all began when Louis Borsook, who owned several millinery shops here, was in Europe and found some some old beret-making machines in an old barn. He brought them to Canada and began making headgear for the military and for women. Parkhurst flourished from there, as his son came into the business; his grandson, likewise, is now the manager.

According to its website, “The company sells its hats, coats, sweaters and other knitwear across Canada, the United States, Australia and Europe.” 

“I’m glad to be affiliated with this company,” commented Ms. Burke. “It was the sales rep who contacted us about the sock monkey sweater. I thought, I know this name; I’m going to try it. They were fantastic. They wash really well and they’re made mostly of recycled cotton.”

Shopkeepers are inevitably in competition with online sales and they do this by being more interesting.

“We’re doing more events,” she declared. “People are missing that human aspect of the shopping experience. We are doing a stylists’ night in conjunction with a Women’s Day event, hosted by the Dufferin Peel District Women’s Institute, on November 2 at Monora Park Pavilion. 

“It’s all day. There’ll be displays and talks by paramedics, Pine River Institute and other [softer] speakers and topics. Heather Champlain, a local fashion designer, and Off Broadway will be there. We teamed up together.” 

On the 13 November, Wednesday, “We’re having an in-store event with a rep from Frank Lyman. This will be for fun and will include giveaways. They’ll bring some of their new designs. I like the fact that Frank’s Canadian too. His things are a little more dressy – funky – very different.”

There are Italian shirts of 60 percent silk and viscose; beautiful dresses for “a little bit from Spain and Montreal.”

Ms. Burke commented “Probably 50 percent of our stock is made in Canada. That really matters to me. 

“The rationale behind what we stock is about fashion for women but not solely. These are quality clothes that that have something a little different, that you wouldn’t find in a chain; clothes for ladies that like to stand out a bit.

“Since I relocated to Broadway and I had my regulars on Mill Street, here there are also ladies who are day tripping to Orangeville. I am seeing new faces here. Often you ‘ll find women meeting from different places, coming here to Orangeville, staying in a hotel. They’ll come into the town to shop. We’re really fortunate to live in such an beautiful downtown.” 

By way of enticing the online crowd to actually visit, “I typically do a lot of social media – Facebook and Instagram by preference.” 

The beautiful browns dress this writer admired, “Comes from Spain. It’s priced at $205 but that’s my high end line, so, I have a very affordable high end. I also believe in fair pricing for quality.”

Ms Burks is married and has a “wonderful son.” 

“Twenty years old and going to Ottawa University, doing an Honours Psychology Degree,” she told the Citizen proudly.

“Sometimes, I count my blessings. A loving family who are doing well and having a clothing shop I really enjoy. I have great customers who appreciate what it takes to bring in lines that are beautiful and a little different, in one of the prettiest towns in Canada.”

She said, “I like to think people have a good time, a fun time, shopping here.” 

Off Broadway is now on Broadway, at 121 Broadway, and opens at 10:00 am.

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