By Brenlee Coates
(Photo by Khammy Photography of the back-alley entrance to TUB – a first in downtown Winnipeg.)
TUB, or more formally The Urban Bakery, is a great place to shop – but it’s so much more than a retail destination.
The owner Kevin Trosky and his band of brothers throw parties, sell tickets for events and co-own some of the city’s best nightclubs.
“Before all of this, we’re all just homies,” says TUB manager, Lonnie Ce, who co-owns and DJs at Union Sound Hall. “We’re all involved in different street culture and music and different scenes.”
Because of this, The Urban Bakery is always playing the tightest jams, screening movies on its walls, and carrying handbills and selling tickets for all kinds of events at any given time – and not just their own. “We’re always down to support,” says Ce.
Maybe that’s what’s set TUB apart since its inception 15 years ago; its community involvement, which has only expanded since Trosky and his “homies” branched out into other ventures.
Trosky co-owns Union along with Ce and a smattering of other local musicians, DJs and promoters, as well as Greenroom.
And TUB hasn’t suffered any neglect – in fact, the store just reopened in a brand-new, fully renovated space at 407 Graham Ave.
TUB’s very first location was on Graham, and after calling Portage Avenue home for many years, the shop is back to its roots but with a new concept for retail in Winnipeg.
The shop has a backlane entrance – a first for downtown – inspired by a trend in Vancouver’s Gastown.
The store’s original setup is in line with what TUB tries to do with its inventory – keep things fresh and exclusive.
“We try to feature lines that you can’t see anywhere else,” says Ce, who is also a buyer for the store. “It’s difficult to get people downtown sometimes, but we try to make it… more of a destination.”
In recent years, Ce has noticed some of the brands TUB carried at their onset grow, and it is always looking to feature new brands to help them get their start.
One such line, The Peg Authentic, a kind of patriotic Winnipeg brand, is newly exclusively available at TUB. “Mainstream culture and malls and everything kind of caught up, so we had to step ahead again,” says Ce.
TUB is still the best place to find brands like Stussy, Raised By Wolves and Publish Brand – lines that are recognizable though not widely available in the city.
And it is still without a doubt one of the best places to get sneakers in the city; and now the shoes are prominently displayed on a hand-laid wooden wall custom-built by the shop owner and his father.
“All the renovations were pretty much done by Kevin and his 75-year-old father, and they pretty much did everything by hand,” says Ce.
Impressively, the shoe display is not the only picturesque element of the store.
In fact, everything is terribly photogenic down to the front counter, which is a slab of wood Trosky found at a lumber store and overnight, he turned into a beautifully gleaming, suspended counter that hangs from the ceiling by cables.
Though the back entrance distinguishes the store, the front entrance is also unique: a narrow hallway entrance peppered with shop posters that leads into the section of the store that’s devoted to a head shop.
Wall-to-wall glass cases and shelving display smoking paraphernalia, and cans of spray paint are propped on the opposing walls.
The head shop leads into the retail side which has all the exclusive brands of T-shirts, hoodies, hats, toques and sneakers to help set you apart.
The stock hasn’t undergone a major transformation, but everything about the store feels revived, ultramodern and new.
“It was super refreshing,” says Ce, of the move. “People are enjoying the new space – everyone’s happy.” Not least of which are Trosky and Ce’s business partners, who headquarter their nightclub’s offices underneath the Graham store. “It’s the best,” says Ce, of the setup.