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EQ3: Staying close to home

From the HGO Merchandiser

 20 June 2022     Ashley Newport 

Even before the global COVID-19 pandemic descended upon Canada, forcing brick-and-mortar retailers to shutter their storefronts for weeks even months at a time, some might have argued furniture merchants would be crazy to focus too extensively on in-person sales at a time when e-commerce was already becoming dominant across an array of retail sectors.

But while consumers remain eager to shop online (in a world with or without COVID), some companies – such as EQ3, the Canadian contemporary furniture designer, manufacturer and retailer – are encouraging customers to shop both ways, virtually on its web site and physically by opening brick-and-mortar stores that offer shoppers a more ‘immersive’ experience.

EQ3 Polo Park specializes in selling tag order upholstery, which is manufactured at its Winnipeg factory. The store’s design was inspired by the retailer’s roots, with the interior – complete with herringbone flooring (seen here in the foreground), traditional wainscotting and pastel millwork – paying homage to the Prairies.Recently, the team behind EQ3 – which designs, develops and manufactures its custom upholstery offerings at its Winnipeg headquarters – put this strategic approach to the test with the opening of its new flagship store in its hometown’s largest shopping centre, CF Polo Park.

“We have some exciting new technologies to help with the design process, like 3D floor planners and our digital product library. We’ve enhanced our ability to communicate the benefits of our products, from their longevity to their functionality,” EQ3 president Mark Letain told Home Goods Online in a recent interview.

“But most of all, we’re expanding on the idea of experiential retail. When people come into our space, it’s not just for a sofa or a dining table, but the feeling of a well-appointed home.”

Founded in 2001 and part of the Palliser Group, EQ3 also designs, builds, sources and sells a range of household products in addition to upholstery including case goods, lighting, decorative accessories and more. The company is active in both Canada and the United States, with fifteen locations spanning both countries. It opened its U.S. flagship store, an 11,000 square foot ‘light filled jewel box’ in the Chelsea district of New York City in late 2019.

EQ3 president Mark Letain told Home Goods Online in a recent interview when people come into the new CF Polo Park store, it’s not just for a sofa or a dining table, but the feeling of a well-appointed home.At 44,000 square feet, Polo Park is the company’s largest showroom and designed to provide customers with a “re-imagined retail experience.” Located on the shopping centre’s main floor, it also features something fun in the form of an in-house restaurant helmed by award-winning Deer + Almond chef Madel Hitzer.

“EQ3 is proud to open our first-ever Canadian flagship store here in Manitoba and serve the community that has helped shape who we are through the expansive possibilities of this space,” Peter Tielmann, EQ3 founder and chief executive officer said in a statement published just prior to the store’s opening. “Our uniquely Canadian approach to design is deeply inspired by our hometown of Winnipeg, so we’re honoured to share this work with customers, friends, and family at our new showroom.”

According to the company, the new store will be a “hub of innovation for EQ3” by incorporating new technologies such as three dedicated design centres that provide customers and interior designers with opportunities for one-on-one consultations with sales associates and access to fabrics, finishes, rug swatches and 3D visualization software.

The store also boasts digital video walls and QR codes giving customers access to detailed product information.

Letain said EQ3’s senior leadership team is applying the lessons learned over the years to the new flagship location. “While our mission remains intact: to rid the world of fast-furniture and create timeless pieces for this generation and the next, we’ve learned a lot over the last two decades – lessons that have made us more efficient and thoughtful in our business practices,” he explained. 

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This HGO article was written by:
Ashley Newport
Ashley Newport

A regular contributor to HGO Merchandiser, Ashley Newport is a Toronto-based freelance journalist who writes primarily for trade and business publications. Her specialties include food, hospitality and emerging social/business trends.

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Home Goods and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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