Many people have been forced to stay in their homes during the pandemic, which means that they are thinking a lot less about their shoes. This has left the Mackhouse, a sneaker customization studio located in downtown Toronto’s Stackt market, with a unique dilemma for their business model. We sat down with the director of Marketing and Digital for Mackhouse, Marcia Lopez, to ask her about the struggles that Mackhouse has faced during the pandemic.
What is the idea behind Mack House?
Mack House is a sneaker customization studio. You get to come in and customize your own sneakers. The way it works (before the pandemic) is that you book your session online, it’s a 2-hour session. Then you come in for your session with a pair of sneakers. They can be whatever you want, they can be brand new or used, but we recommend they not be too worn.
That’s all you need to do. Once you get to your session, the Mack Tech will guide you through the full customization process from start to finish. We’ll show you how to prep your shoe, we’ll show you how to use all the tools and how to seal your shoe and finish it off. The only thing to note is that we aren’t doing it for you, you customize your shoe yourself, but we of course offer tips and tricks.
Where did the Idea for Mack House come from?
The idea for Mack House came from the founder Shelby Weaver, she was looking for something to decompress after a long day at work, and she decided to start painting on shoes and she found that the day would go by so fast when she did. She eventually started painting her friend’s shoes for them for free.
She even painted shoes for some of the Toronto Raptors before starting the business. This let her experiment with customizing sneakers a lot. That’s where the idea came from. She thought it would be really cool to open up space for other people to do this too, and she could teach them how to do it. From that idea in her head, she opened up Mack House and she really wanted to make it a community.
How Did You Find Your Store’s Unique Location
Stack (the area where Mack House’s retail location is) has only been open, if I’m not mistaken for two or two and a half years now, and so it’s relatively new, and it’s created because it’s an outdoor market kind of feel.
All of the stores are based in shipping containers, and that’s where we are. Shelby knew someone who worked at a marketing agency, and they told her about Stacked and showed her the site and said you should open up the Mack House here and it was the perfect opportunity. It was perfect because it was super close to where she lived and super close to where she worked.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
It’s affected, everybody. It’s affected us because we relied our whole business on being person to person. We never did virtual sessions before or coloring books or anything else that could be done at home before.
It was always you booked your appointment, then you come in the store for your session, and we also sold extra shoelaces; that was it. With the pandemic, we couldn’t make revenue from that anymore. So, we had to think about how we could shift things around, and that’s when we decide to put together at-home paint kits.
On that note, what have you done anything to adapt to the pandemic?
People would ask us about buying and bringing home paints even before the pandemic. We didn’t sell the colors at Mack House at the time, so we thought, so let’s give it to them. So, we made our at-home kits, and they came with everything you need to make your custom shoes at home. It came with a video showing you how to customize your shoe and all the supplies you need. We have people even customize their clothes with the paint.
This made us think about things other than shoes we could do. So, we came up with coloring books and stickers, just something to keep people creative during this stressful time where we’re all stuck inside. We’re also doing virtual events with companies like Doc Martin and Footlocker. These are team-building events for these companies where they paint their shoes together.
What are your hopes for the future?
My hope for the future is more community, and I know that is a part of Mack House as a brand; as I said before, the community is part of its DNA, and I would love to see brands continue to do that. It’s something that we have seen more of during the pandemic, brands have been coming together. It’s become not just about one man for himself. I’d like to see less competition and more growth together.
Mack House is hoping to reopen on March 8th, along with the rest of Toronto and the Peel region. With Mack House being in such a unique and person-to-person business, this comes as no surprise. The Sneaker industry has stayed relatively strong during the pandemic, with both sales and resales of new drops doing really well. Hopefully, this success carries over to the Mack House when they start to offer in-person sessions again. When the pandemic does end, it seems like Mack House will continue to sell at-home paint kits, stickers, and coloring books.
For more information kindly visit: