Remodelling a Classic – Jackie Chiesa with William Ashley
This new store boasts many improvements, which Jackie Chiesa hopes will make the customers’ shopping experience not only enjoyable, but also mesmerizing.
Tillie Abrams opened the first William Ashley retail store 71 years ago, providing customers with top-quality products. Your own grandmother may have picked up her dinnerware set from there. And its popularity hasn’t waned over the years. Even today, ask any bride-to-be where she wants to register, and chances are she’ll say “William Ashley.”
At the helm of this operation is William Ashley’s president, Jackie Chiesa, who has been with the company for 36 years. “While I was in university, I took a part-time position at William Ashley, and I guess you can say I kind of worked my way up from the mailroom.” Mentored by Abrams herself, Chiesa says, “She would show me, ‘Jackie, this is quality tableware,’ and she would show me how the plate was decorated — true craftsmanship.” Chiesa can remember Abrams walking through the store, striking the edge of a plate to demonstrate the strength of bone china and its ability to absorb shock. This, among other things, displayed the true quality of their products to customers.
William Ashley has always been at the forefront of trends, fashion and design, offering customers the finest products and brands; from Daum to Wedgwood — the options are endless. It is also the exclusive Canadian distributor of the world-renowned Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland. With dedication to its craft and carrying over 200 tableware, home décor and kitchen brands such as Baccarat, Lalique, Moser and Waterford, it is not surprising that William Ashley has maintained its spot as a premier destination in the retail world.
April 27 marked a new milestone for this prolific company, opening its new flagship destination on Bloor Street West in Toronto. Set in a heritage building, it boasts 23-foot ceilings, natural light and impeccable architectural details, marking a new phase for this retail giant. It is “a phenomenal space in which to stage these iconic brands from all over the world,” says Chiesa.
Not only did Chiesa want to create a beautiful space, but she also wanted to enhance the experience of her customers by incorporating new features into this store. And technology has had a big part to play in the design. “Its impact on consumer behaviour has totally changed the world of retailing,” explains Chiesa. One aspect of the store that brings together technology and retail is the use of videos. “We have a 14-foot video wall that is filled with wonderful brand stories, telling you about their history.” On top of that, William Ashley is taking advantage of the data it has compiled over the years, “to understand our consumers and understand their history and exactly what that customer might be looking for today,” Chiesa says.
The retail landscape may currently be evolving, but William Ashley won’t be left behind. This new location has reached the peak of retail, creating a seamless and frictionless experience for its customers.