Oliver Knutton wanted to own his own store. That was a given. But what kind of store?
“I said I was going to open a combination record and pet food store. I was going to call it Paws and carry high end pet food and vinyl…I’d come in with those weird ideas once every two or three months.”
In the summer of 2012, and a couple of ideas later, a space popped up for rent. The location, Cannon Street just east of James North, was the perfect spot for Knutton’s new idea: an ice cream shop. But the permits Knutton needed from the city would take 7 months to process. He’d miss the whole ice cream season.
Hamilton did eventually get that ice cream shop on James N, but it’s not Knutton’s. He had a backup plan.
“Well, if ice cream doesn’t work Hamilton really needs a men’s clothing store.”
O’s Clothes is an oasis for Hamilton’s fashion conscious guys. The focus in on street style gear. O’s will get you looking slick in Cheap Monday jeans, Insight shirts, I Love Ugly 5 hats and Clae shoes. O’s has options for the dapper gents out there too, like a smart shawl collar Fjällräven sweater, cufflinks from Toronto based Vitaly, and Canadian-made bow ties from Cursor and Thread.
O’s Clothes is an oasis for Hamilton’s fashion conscious guys
And it’s not all clothes at O’s. Knutton is making a push to carry more lifestyle products: headphones, bluetooth speakers, backpacks and now coffee gear from Portland, Oregon coffee roaster Stumptown and motorcycle bags from Deus Ex Machina.
Knutton takes a lot of care when choosing his products, a lot of which are special or limited edition. That’s somewhat because of spacial limitations (O’s is quite literally a small retailer), but it’s also part of his business plan. Like a lot of the small businesses on James North, Knutton wants to carry things you’re not going to find anywhere else in the city.
He’s quick to champion the James North neighborhood and its small business culture. He often has customers referred to him by other stores and he’s more than happy to return the favour. He wants people to explore the neighborhood and know that they can come down any time. They can skip the mall.
Knutton is really passionate about the downtown Hamilton’s revitalisation. He lights up when I mention the growing small business scene on Barton Street, immediately listing off his favourite spaces.
And while it is exciting seeing new stores pop up, he reminds me that the real excitement is about something deeper.
“[It’s] not all about opening new stores and selling people $500 jackets…It’s about offering a service and being a human being.”
You can find O’s Clothes and the human being that runs it at 8 Cannon Street East, Sundays and Monday 12-5 and Tuesday - Saturday 11-6.