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Yorkdale's Secret


Yorkdale Shopping Centre landed nine first-to-market luxury retailers this year. We asked Yorkdale GM Anthony Casalanguida how he lured them across the border. (If Halloween is any indication, Americans will pretty much do anything for candy.)


"I am giving you the ingredients of the secret sauce," Anthony jokes. He and his team have made numerous trips to New York City to meet with the marketing teams of leading retail brands like John Varvatos, AllSaints, David Yurman, Mulberry, all using Yorkdale as their entry point into Canada. Many have been selling their brands here already. "Retailers are competing globally now," he says. "A lot of the growth we are experiencing in the retail industry is because Americans are finally realizing that I am not going to go to Cleveland anymore, or expand to Buffalo, I am going to go to Toronto, because it has a population base bigger than Chicago."


Europeans are better understanding the Canadian shopper as well, and Canadian brands like Holt Renfrew and Harry Rosen remain anchors on the luxe retail front at Yorkdale. Next to the John Varvatos store is its "sister" brand, as Anthony terms it, AllSaints (which we snapped here), with a creative storefront featuring 430 sewing machines. Varvatos got curious after AllSaints committed. In the case of Varvatos, there were regular trips to New York to educate Varvatos marketing people on the Canadian market. "Do they understand what Boxing Week is? Do they understand that Canadians have a different psyche when it comes to department stores than Americans do? Do they understand the importance of hockey in this market?" he says. Then John Varvatos travelled to Yorkdale to get a feel for the vibe of the shopping centre.


For Anthony, who's been in the property management business for 20 years, six of those as GM at Yorkdale, one of the cherries on the cake came recently when InStyle magazine called: "They said we want to learn about you because every single retailer is talking about this thing called Yorkdale. Annual traffic numbers there are 21 million, with a 200k SF Nordstrom's coming 2016. "Someone once said to me, 'You are managing the best asset in the country, and if you don't say you're doing fabulous when people ask how things are going, then you are in the wrong business,'" Anthony says.