by Kate McGregor
With the opening of Stomping Ground in the Glebe, men’s fashion has found an exciting new home under the creative management of co-owners Josh Chambers and Naj Peterson.
The two friends cultivated their fashion flair while working at a men’s retail business on Rideau Street where Chambers was operations manager and Peterson the assistant men’s buyer and general manager.
Now in their mid-30s, the duo decided the time had come to open their own store together. Unlike friends who had moved to Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver for business opportunities, they decided to help shape the city’s fashion scene by staying in Ottawa where they were both born and raised. In fact, the name of their new store, Stomping Ground, pays homage to their hometown and to the comfortable store ambiance they want to create for customers.
The closing of Buckland’s Fine Clothing at the corner of Bank and First Avenue signalled an opportunity to bring something new to the Glebe, a neighbourhood Chambers and Peterson felt was under-serviced in terms of men’s fashion. Other than Sporting Life, a retail store at Lansdowne Park that offers high end men’s sports and outer clothing, no other men’s clothing shops existed in the Glebe.
In choosing to locate their new business on Bank Street, Peterson notes, “Over the past two years we noticed a significant change in the demographic of people living in the Glebe and people coming to play there. With Lansdowne Park coming in and residential luxury developments that went up, we noticed that change. Our friends were now frequenting the Glebe a lot more than the Byward Market.”
Chambers and Peterson settled on the space vacated by The Framing Experience, a neighbourhood landmark for 27 years. They undertook extensive renovations with a new door, storefront windows, flooring and walls. They did most of the design and construction themselves, working 12 hours a day, seven days a week for four and a half months. Peterson introduced himself to local business owners while the store was under wraps and was overwhelmed by the warm welcome. Even before they opened their doors, the duo knew that they had found the right community for their new venture.
Stomping Ground opened its doors on August 20 and customers were introduced to visual evidence of the “streetwear culture” Chambers and Peterson were creating – urban culture elements brought together under one roof to support the in-store experience – from the clothing, shoes and sneakers to décor, books for sale and music played.
Stomping Ground offers clothing built to last – heritage brands that our fathers and grandfathers wore, with an emphasis on clothing made in Canada and the USA and recognizable labels like Woolrich, Levis and Filson.
Having carefully curated the clothing they sell, Chambers and Peterson feel their job is to find out what resonates for the buyer. Because every brand has its own unique story, they take pride in sharing that story. At the same time, they seek to bring an element of comfort to those men who may not enjoy shopping.
The co-owners understand the challenges of opening a bricks-and-mortar store in a strong online marketplace environment. They are in talks with Shopify about an online presence for the store. Savvy marketers, Chambers and Peterson also employ social media to reach their clientele in real time.
The store is also creating a buzz in online circles. Highsnobiety, a daily news website covering streetwear, sneakers, cars, lifestyle and the arts, recently highlighted the interior design of Stomping Ground.
As retailers, Chambers and Peterson recognize the importance of offering customers a unique retail experience. And they are well on their way to creating that with a comfortable seating area, complimentary beverages and unlimited fashion advice. They are also offering monthly in-store events. In September they collaborated with Seattle-based Ebbets Field Flannels to launch a capsule collection of a vintage ball cap, jacket and sweater in honour of the Ottawa Athletics, a professional minor-league baseball team that called Lansdowne Park home in the 1950s.
With the opening of Stomping Ground, the bar has been set high for quality menswear in the Glebe. And how wonderful that the streetwear culture trend is being spearheaded by two business partners who grew up in Kanata just one street away from each other.