Diehard sneakerheads have a new store to frequent in Vancouver with the launch of Grail (2867 Granville Street), a footwear retailer that now calls the tony South Granville ’hood home.
The 3,100-square-foot shop is the first brick-and-mortar outpost for the Canadian concept, which describes itself as an “interactive retail environment” that “celebrates sneaker culture, art, and community”.
The flagship carries over 400 styles of men’s and women’s kicks from more than 15 brands, including standard makes like Nike, Adidas, Vans, and New Balance, as well as harder-to-find niche names like Finnish athletic label Karhu and luxury Italian line Leather Crown.
Assal Fash, senior brand manager for Grail, says the store’s buyers scour countries in regions such as Asia and Europe to find obscure and “untapped” brands that may not be available in Canada. “It’s cool for the collectors—someone who already has everything that’s out there and is looking for something a little bit different,” she tells the Straight during a media launch at the flagship.
Boasting a mix of concrete and steel fixtures—as well as works by local artists—the minimalist space welcomes shoppers with a façade that’s equipped with a hi-res LED ceiling and surround-sound system. There’s also a digital clock displayed in the store’s front window, which will count down to exclusive, limited-edition sneaker drops: events that Grail hopes to host many of.
“If the demand is there, the brands will give them to us,” says Fash. “We’re looking for Vancouver to say, ‘Yes, we’re coming to Grail. That’s where we want the exclusive stuff.’ ”
While Grail is bound to attract the region’s most devoted sneaker fanatics, Fash wants the concept to be a gateway of sorts for more casual trainer wearers, too. This explains the store’s “gender-fluid” layout and stock, which includes a small range of unisex streetwear, accessories, and shoe-care products.
The company, which is financially backed by American footwear retailer DSW Inc., hopes to expand within Canada and to the U.S. in the near future should they see success in B.C. “There’s a real appetite for sneaker stores here,” Fash says. “That’s why we chose Vancouver as our first spot.”