Today's post is a little more personal, but touches on a subject that is very near and dear to our hearts. I've lived in the West Queen West area for about six and a half years now, and with the three year anniversary of the shop approaching next month (oh, how time flies!), I've been reflecting a lot on everything Bicyclette has accomplished and everything that's still to come.

It'll come as no surprise that the beginning of the new year is always a tough time for retail, and with a winter like the one we've experienced, it's definitely effected us. I always like to take advantage of this slower season to start planning for spring and summer, which tend to sneak up on us in a blur, and this year has been no different. It keeps me inspired and looking ahead to the busier times, which can be essential when traffic is slow and complaining about the weather becomes a daily practice.

Over the past couple of weeks, we've noticed a lot of changes in our neighbourhood of West Queen West, with a lot of shops closing their doors for good. Shops that have been on the street since before our time, or around the same time that we opened, shops that we visit regularly and enjoy shopping at, shop owners that we've forged relationships with. And it breaks my heart a little bit to watch a lot of these Queen West staples shutting their doors, especially as Saks and Nordstrom move into the city and fast fashion retailers and big chains continue to expand and dominate. I've made a very conscious effort to shop local and small over the past year, making it part of my lifestyle and daily routine. There are so many amazing, small, locally owned and operated gems in Toronto that need support in order to survive and thrive, and though it might seem like a simple decision, it makes a difference. Type has become my go-to bookstore, forgoing the extensive shelves of Chapters or insta-delivery of Amazon. I haven't set foot in a Starbucks in  months, instead my coffee usually comes from White Squirrel or a new coffee shop that I'm always excited to be introduced to. This past holiday season I bought all of my gifts within the neighbourhood, and it meant so much more to me to be able to give the people on my list items that had a story behind them and supported local designers and shop owners in the area.

At Bicyclette we've built such a strong community around us, working with talented, creative and driven business owners in a variety of fields and industries, and every day I'm reminded of how blessed we are to have such an amazing extended team and strong support system. It's something that has always been my intention, and though it can be hard to compete with "the big guys" at times, I think we've done a pretty good job at carving out our own little niche in the market and bringing something special to the table. Every buying trip we take, every photo shoot we dream up, every workshop we host, every display that we create - it's all in the hopes that we can create a magical, inspirational brand that offers a shopping experience that's a little bit different, that tells a story and offers you an escape.

So as we push through into the spring season, I want to first of all say thank you to everyone who has been part of the Bicyclette world in the past few years - we couldn't have done any of this without our amazing customers and community, and for that we are oh-so-thankful. You inspire us every day to work hard and keep doing what we love. And a word of encouragement to shop local as much as you can. It might not seem like a big thing, but it makes such a difference and helps a community like West Queen West thrive and continue to offer a place that so many of us love to call home.