Muddy George, a premium menswear boutique located in the core of Toronto, is quickly approaching its one-year anniversary. The opening of Muddy George has been a breath of fresh air for those that reside in the area - a neighbourhood that has been dominated by the restaurant industry for many years. From the polished store renovation to the brand selection and merchandising, there’s no indication that this is the shop owner’s first foray in the retail landscape. Shop owner, Altaf, carved some time out of his day to tell us about his experience as a new retailer in the ever-changing Bloorcourt neighbourhood.
Tell us a little bit about the neighbourhood that Muddy George is located in, and why you chose it.
Bloorcourt is a neighbourhood that stretches along Bloor Street between Dufferin Street and the Christie Pits. It is an extremely diverse and vibrant neighbourhood filled with tattoo parlours, art galleries, comedy clubs and cuisines from all over the world, making it truly feel like a microcosm of Toronto.
The restaurant scene is what frequently drew my girlfriend and I to the area. Being an avid shopper, I noticed there wasn’t really anywhere that I could shop before or after our meals, so I figured that the neighbourhood was in need of a good men’s shop. I also wanted a retail space with a neighbourhood vibe; something that the locals could connect with.
Muddy George has paved the way as one of the first premium boutiques in the Bloorcourt neighbourhood. How has the local response to your store been so far?
To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect, but the local support has certainly exceeded any and all expectation I could have had. Since I’ve opened the doors, one of the things I’ve heard most is, “We really needed this in the neighbourhood,” in addition to, “It smells really good in here.”
I think the store has really resonated with the neighbourhood, given that the majority of items are made in Canada. It's an easy story to tell, especially when some of the stuff is made five minutes away. The neighbourhood definitely shops and supports locally made products, and I feel that this has translated into having some loyal regulars. Whether it’s the butcher who’s been on Bloor for 40 years, or the bakery that just opened, the neighbourhood appreciates quality, and I’m extremely appreciative of all of their support and continued patronage.
Prior to opening Muddy George, what line of work were you in, and what motivated you to become a retailer?
Prior to opening Muddy George I had been working in HR for nine years. I didn’t necessarily hate what I was doing, but having my own store was something I had always dreamt about. I am very passionate about fashion and have always had an entrepreneurial spirit about me. I always said that I would open up a store if I won the lottery - which I don’t play - so it was never a real consideration. It wasn’t until my girlfriend really pushed me that I decided it was time to give it a go. Not having any fashion or retail experience was/is definitely nerve racking, but all the local brands I work with have been extremely helpful in guiding me along the way.
What are some of your favourite small businesses in your neighbourhood that you like to support?
Coffee: There are so many in and around Bloorcourt, but Ella’s Uncle is up there (there sandwich board game is next level).
Breakfast: Saving Gigi
Lunch: Hurricane’s for wings (BBQ, grilled, well-done).
Dinner: Actinolite (locally sourced and foraged food)
Bar: I don’t drink but Northwood made me a good “mocktail” once.
Fashion: Freedom Clothing Collection (all Canadian designers!)
Bakery: Baker Bots for amazing baked goods and ice cream sandwiches.
Visit Muddy George at 973 Bloor Street West