East Village ‘like a Hallmark movie,’ local merchants say

After opening at the height of the recession in 2016, local businesses Frilly Lilly, and Liz and Lottie in the East Village are evolving with the riverside community.

“You’re kind of against the hustle bustle of downtown, but you’re still accessible by train, foot, and the river walk,” says the co-owner of Liz and Lottie, Nikki Maas.

From the Harry Potter market that was on display around Halloween, to couples sharing a kiss under the mistletoe at Christmas, “East Village is like what you see in a Hallmark movie,” Maas said in an interview.

“It’s so close to downtown and the river that it doesn’t feel like you’re in the downtown core. It’s got the sense of community like a suburb,” said Heidi Blanchette, the other partner in Liz and Lottie.

Maas and Blanchette both felt that something was missing from their nine to five lives when they came up with the idea for Liz and Lottie, which is named after their grandmothers.

“We both loved to shop and we always gravitated to similar stores like this where you can find fun items and nice pieces. But we felt that Calgary was kind of lacking a true all in one shop,” said Maas.

The two business owners said that they “work in a two-person democracy” when it comes to the deciding what to sell in their shop.

“A lot of local makers will reach out to us and we do go to the local markets as well,” said Maas. “If we both don’t love it, we don’t buy it.”

Customers can find picnic baskets in the summer months, beautiful knit scarves and mittens in the winter and will always find one-of-a kind jewelry whether it’s for a gift for someone else, or just to take home.

“Everyone within East Village supports one another. The residents will always shop here first but even if they can’t find something it seems like they always come here first and that shows what a community we are,” said Blanchette.

The young owner of the Frilly Lilly East Village location, Holly Friedrich, 23, threw a party for her friends and family in September, to help celebrate the shop’s one-year anniversary.

“East Village has been amazing with promoting the area and events within it,” Friedrich said.

“I personally believe Frilly Lilly was an amazing fit for the community and they have really shown us their love in return.”

Frilly Lilly boutiques in Canada are known for their soft pink, shabby chic theme and vintage accessories.

However, Friedrich’s boutique is a little different, fitting well with East Village’s atmosphere.

“East Village is a bit trendier with the rustic twist. Our location merged the best of both worlds, creating an open ceiling look with exposed piping and barn doors,” she said.

For Friedrich, East Village reminds her of an urban European neighbourhood that has everything for nearby residences, which are increasing in number each month.

Back in the day, East Village was not the go-to trendy community it has grown to be today.

I feel like the community is so small and it’s like this tight-knit woven vibe. – Nikki Maas

“It’s so nice, it feels really small, even though everybody knows about it and it’s a big destination on the weekends. I feel like the community is so small and it’s like this tight-knit woven vibe,” said Maas.

The community has grown so much within the last few years, keeping its original heritage buildings such as the Simmons building and Hillier Block residential suites.

The riverside community of East Village, beside by The Bow River, is evolving from what used to be Calgary’s “skid row” to one of the most sophisticated communities to hang out in.

Come visit Liz + Lottie’s store website here

Book an appointment at Friedrich’s boutique here.

About Kelsey Lyle 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Kelsey Lyle worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2017-18 academic year.