Since moving its retail location to 142 N Foord St., Wearwell Garments has freed up space to give its design team room to breathe.
“We’re basically sitting on top of each other in the space where we were, so this just allows us to expand,” said Merv Gaffney who has been designing for Wearwell for over a decade.
“Right from the age of six or seven I’ve been playing with fabrics and stuff like that,” said Gaffney. “My mother had a good rag bag at home.”
The bigger working area will give both Gaffney and the newest member of the design team an adequate space for the first stage in the company’s large operation.
“The design or the actual patterns are imagined here,” said Julie Reid, who also began working with fabric at a very young age.
“I used to dress my animals up as a kid,” said Reid. “I won a contest with my Guinea pigs when I was seven or eight years old.” Originally from Central Ontario, Reid was working in Manitoba before being hired-on at Wearwell.
“A customer request something, or there needs to be a customization or a change, or maybe something entirely new and then we take that and bring it to life.”
“It begins here,” said Gaffney inside the new work space. “What we do is try to translate what’s being requested into everything that’s need to communicate with the operators on the floor in order to put things together accurately and consistently.”
The former retail space on 126 Acadia Ave. has been entirely turned over to the Reid and Gaffney, and the decision to move the store away from the production facility went part-and parcel with expanding the design department.
“The space is more valuable for the design department,” said company president Stirling MacLean. “We were looking at a space in our own factory, and once we had a nice location for the store we made the move.”
Depending on the time of year, over 1500 garments are produced here every day. Machines being worked by up to 45 operators at every stage in the line can be seen and heard whirring and humming through windows that look onto the production floor.
Over on the retail side of things, store manager Sarah Marshall says that the recent move has been a big shot in the arm for the company’s local sales.
“It’s been ten-times as busy,” says Marshall. “The location definitely helps.”