What Is A Werk-Shop?

Answer: It’s what happens when Small gets too big.


When we opened Small-Mart more than a decade ago it was based on a general store concept, which basically meant I could include anything I liked. It turns out I liked a lot of things.



As the store evolved, some things worked, some things not so much and we refined our selection accordingly. When we moved to the newer, more visible location a few years later the dynamic changed yet again. I soon realized that the general concept needed to be less general, or we needed more space.

I didn't want to mess with the small in Small-Mart, so rather than moving to a larger location and expanding we decided that we'd split the concept in two.

And so began the search for a second space (or third if you include our main retail location, Bradshaws).



This was easier said than done. For logistical reasons we wanted something in close proximity to the other stores. It took some persistence and a few years, but finally the perfect location became available- right in the middle of the block, but also right in the middle of the pandemic. The logical decision would have been to hold and see what happened, but logical people don’t chose retail as an occupation.



The cellular division of Small-Mart finally happened in 2021. Small-Mart’s focus was on novelty, candy, some clothing, games, etc. Werk-Shop became the new home for backpacks and bags, jewelry, accessories and some things for the home.




The name is based on an extension of the concept that we had begun with. If Small-Mart is the neighbourhood general store, Werk-Shop is the hardware store: Parts and Accessories for Modern Life. 

Interior of Werk Shop





As we were renovating the space and the front windows were papered up, we could hear passersby read the coming soon sign and speculate on the name. Did he spell it wrong? Does it have something to do with twerking?  Is he an idiot?

The answers in sequence are maybe, no and possibly. “Werk” is a play on words: the highbrow explanation is that it’s a reference to the Deutscher Werkbund of  the pre-Bauhaus era in Germany and the birth of the utilitarian factory aesthetic in design. The second, slightly less pretentious reference refers to the contemporary expression to “werk”, which paraphrasing from various urban dictionaries means “to trust one’s intuition, and execute daily tasks to the best of one’s ability, and do so so without inhibitions. To strive for personal best while overcoming the stigma of public opinion. To do what one wants, with confidence.”


So it’s a Werk-Shop, with an e. It’s different, and I like different. [And nothing to do with twerking].

Jeremy Wreford, 2021.