Brief history of the store. We just celebrated Chester Field’s fifth birthday! In March 2014, Ross Taylor from Gabriel Ross, Amber Leask, and I opened Chester Fields, and soon after we brought on William Shepherd. It sort of evolved out of my previous store Onlyhuman, with some significant changes. Our location on Herald Street was a great improvement over the Yates locale, plus we kept the best products, mainly Gus Modern, Blu Dot, and added Bensen. This gave us a really well-rounded offering with great quality products. It was successful right out of the gate and we steadily built our clientele with great service, a welcoming attitude, and furniture lines we are proud of.
Tell us about the name, ‘Chester Fields.’ Haha…it’s always fun coming up with a business name. Chester Fields was Ross’ suggestion. At first, I wasn’t so sure, but it definitely grew on me. The term ‘chesterfield’ comes with a sense of nostalgia, conjuring images of your grandparents’ sofa, comfort, home, family, and Canadiana.
The word fell out of fashion in the US and UK many years ago, but it held on much longer here. We carry a lot of Canadian-designed furniture so that dovetailed nicely. The name feels very approachable. High-end furniture stores can often be intimidating and we consciously wanted to avoid that. Separating the word Chester from Fields was to reflect the little character we dreamed up: Chester, a globetrotting renaissance man.
Tell us about your brand line-up. Is there a theme or synergy between these brands? We’re super happy to have the brands that we do. The fact that the large majority of items we sell are Canadian designs is a source of pride for us. Bensen is our top end line; Niels Bendtsen is the head designer and one of Canada’s most well-known designers. He’s also the founder of Inform Interiors in Vancouver, which has been bringing European design to Canada for over 40 years. In a big way, he is responsible for broadening tastes of the entire country.
Gus Modern is a Toronto based company. They offer a really well rounded selection of durable, affordable, and stylish designs. Always on trend, the designs are approachable and fun while backed by a good selection of timeless pieces. They also stock their items in Toronto, so the lead times are considerably shorter than made to order companies.
Blu Dot is based in Minnesota. Again, fun and accessible. They have a huge range of offerings, tons of selection. I also really appreciate their slightly irreverent sense of humor, which is always on display in any of their marketing material. Like us, they don’t take themselves too seriously.
Where do you get your inspiration from for retailing product? We definitely keep track of trends, as do our brands. A few times a year we get the pleasure of seeing their new releases. It’s always exciting to see what’s coming up next, and super fun to bring that to Victoria.
That said, trends come and go, so we try to balance the showroom with a selection of classic designs with the latest trends. We also try to cycle through our floor models a couple times a year. Chances are, any time you drop by we’ll have something pretty fresh on the floor.
How do you find success as a furniture retailer in the Victoria market? It’s all about finding a niche, we’ve definitely found ours. We have such a great selection of unique stores on Herald Street. Shoutout to our neighbours: StudioYdesign, Sagers, House of Chester, Insideout Home Store, Trig Vintage (hope I didn’t miss any). It’s a good community; we’re always happy to send a customer to one of our neighbouring shops if we don’t have what they need.