Here you can relax at your leisure.
Leisure Centre is a lifestyle concept store where one can wander and discover a range of unique items from furnishing, to luxury skincare, emerging fashion designers around the world, and even the city’s up and coming pastry chefs.
As you enter you will be in awe of the size of the space, comparable to a department store, but the experience it offers leans toward providing you a space to interact with all the curated items. The walls act to create segmented spaces housing different brands and item categories, creating interesting sight lines throughout both levels of the shop.
On the first floor, there is a cafe space where you can enjoy a light lunch or designed pasties by one of our previous feature Artists - Buttermere. Lush greenery decorates the arched windows in the cafe space, and the wall is covered with funky wallpaper.
The day of our visit, the owners invited guests to take Crayola markers to the wall, to help color in the various figures on the wallpaper. The guests’ creations would become a permanent part of the experience.
There is also a section for stationary and other lifestyle items, such as innovative lighting pieces, a desktop lamp made of concrete, or a notebook that fans out to reveal a light. Next to these lifestyle goods is a curated library of art and culture books and classic stories to stimulate your creativity.
The lower floor is a reserved area for VIP shopping, with five large changing areas that allow a group of friends to shop together (and who wouldn’t love that?)
This floor features emerging designers from China, including Yang Li, who was the first Chinese designer to host a runway show in Paris.
The clothing items are showcased museum-style, inviting visitors to peer closer to view the intricate design. Small plaques beside the items describe the story of the featured designer. We applaud the team for going the extra mile to promote the designer, whereas most shops would dedicate all sales floor space to sales.
It’s a shop where one could wander and make new discoveries with each visit, discovering new artists, household items, interesting reads and more. In awe of the effort that went into the space, we took the opportunity to interview the team to find out their story.
P: Pendulum Magazine
L: Leisure Center
P: Is this your first business? Do you have any business partners? If yes, how did you find each other?
L: Mason Wu & MuYun Li are the husband-wife duo behind Leisure Center.
They first began their retail careers by being one of the first importers of high-end Japanese fashion brands to Vancouver. After 8 years of business, Mason and MuYun saw a new opportunity in luxury retail, realizing that their customers were interested in finding the “best of the best” products and experiences that extend beyond just clothing, and focused on how they spent their leisure time. As a result, the concept of Leisure Center was born.
P: How did you come together on the vision of Leisure Center?
L: Vancouver is a fast-growing city that has been undergoing tremendous demographic and economic changes, which opens the door to many untapped business opportunities. For the past 8 years, we felt that our clients’ needs have not been fully met, therefore, we wanted to create a place that can fulfill both the current and future needs of all types of clients. In this day and age, we as a society have more wealth, but may not necessarily have the place or time to enjoy ourselves. Leisure Center was created with the vision to give our customers a place to discover their leisurely interests. For example, we have a library section with selected titles from Donlon Books in London for book collectors and avid readers, and plant-based tonic elixirs from The Alchemist’s Kitchen in New York for the health conscious urbanite.
P: Why did you name the shop “Leisure Center”?
L: We wanted to give the space a common name that resonates with the spirit of the store, but at the same time, when the clients walk in, they will have an experience that is a stark contrast from the banality of the name.
P: How long did it take for you to plan and set up the business?
L: At least 2 years, we spent the majority of the time looking for the right location and space.
P: Leisure Center houses much more than just fashion goods - how did you decide on what elements to include within the store? Such as a mini cafe with pastries, a lifestyle goods section with facial and skincare goods, stationery and more?
L: The products and services offered at Leisure Center are based on 5 Pillars aimed to enhance one’s lifestyle: Garment, Communication, Nourishment, Environment, and Service. We also stock things that weren’t previously available in Vancouver, and some products are exclusive to the store. We want to offer our customers exceptional products from around the world.
P: What has been the most challenging part of starting this business?
L: This type of business model is new in Vancouver, so it takes time and a lot of education and awareness building for people to understand and accept our concept.
P: What is the most enjoyable part of running your own business?
L: It’s rewarding to bring a retail concept that didn't exist in Vancouver but has been done successfully around the world. London has Dover Street Market, Paris has Colette, and now Vancouver has Leisure Center.
P: The business is still relatively new, if you had to do a quick assessment, what do you feel you got right and what areas require improvement?
L: There is a void in the retail industry in Vancouver that we filled, but there are still many areas that require improvements, such as gaining a better understanding of the local market and integrating this new concept into the culture here.
P: What do you think sets Leisure Center apart from other luxury stores?
L: We are not just a retail store but also an experiential environment where guests can enjoy different spaces like our cafe, seminar room, relaxed seating, “Kid’s Office”, and VIP Pods.
P: Leisure Center has hosted successful events in the past that were fun and creative. How did you come up with these events? Do you have a team behind these events?
L: Most of our events are in partnership with our international vendors. They are very excited to present themselves in Vancouver through Leisure Center and we are in awe of some of the creativity they have brought to the space and city. To support executing these events we have a diverse internal team that works behind the scenes on all elements including logistics, security, visual display, catering etc.
P: How have you been measuring the success of your business? What metrics do you use to gauge your success?
L: Measuring success through sales is a fundamental part of gauging our success but it is also very important to listen to the feedback we are getting from our clients, media, and vendors. We recently were in Paris for Men’s Fashion Week and it was exciting to have a lot of great feedback from designers who have not had a chance to visit Leisure Center but have been hearing buzz about the space through the industry.
P: Fast forward 2 years, what are your goals for Leisure Center?
L: We are striving to build Leisure Center into a “must visit” destination in Vancouver not only for the local community but also internationally. We hope to continue to work with top international design talent to present the best product and events, and as the business matures hope to begin to nurture local Vancouver and Canadian talent.
We thank the Leisure Center team for sharing their story and business progress with us and look forward to the various events and international designers they will bring to Vancouver.
950 Homer St, Vancouver, BC