Kielburgers set up shop in the Eaton Centre

Craig and Marc Kielburger’s massive We movement lands in North America’s busiest mall promising millenials a different kind of retail therapy

Walled off behind blue and white boards, a new Eaton Centre store promised something big for its grand opening a couple of weeks back. Not the arrival of life-changing jeans or the latest American department store -invasion – just, you know, the “opportunity to change the world.” 

This time the marketing hype is legit. 

Craig and Marc Kielburger’s massive We movement landed in North America’s busiest mall on July 28, in the form of an all new We Store. Instead of getting free makeovers or tea samples, guests are invited to tap the digital wall and donate a litre of clean drinking water (no cash needed, just tap) to someone in need. Or don 3D glasses to get a full-on feel for what it’s like to volunteer in Africa or South America.

That’s not to say there’s no shopping involved. This is still the Eaton Centre, and We Store is still a business. The 500-square-foot space donated by Cadillac Fairview includes back-to-school Me to We binders by Mead, Me to We watches by Fossil, as well as a “hero” wall of fair trade rafiki bracelets beaded by “mamas” in Kenya.

As with everything in the store, 50 per cent of net revenues go to sister charity, formerly known as Free the Children. It’s conscious consumerism for millennials.

“People are looking to make a difference in the world, and they would like to do it in a way that’s accessible,” Me to We CEO Roxanne Joyal tells NOW. “To be able to engineer your daily choices in a way that makes an impact is for us a no brainer.”

The mix of charity, enterprise and corporate partnerships may not sit well with everyone, but there’s no denying these guys have figured out an innovative funding stream that has kept the We Charity growing into a powerhouse, with We Villages overseas, We leadership camps, We Schools, We Companies and the movement’s We Days, the celeb-studded concert and inspirational conference that attracts more than 100,000 young people every year. 

The Eaton Centre locale, a big step up from their first storefront near We’s original head office in Cabbagetown, gives them access to a whole new group of kids looking for a way to connect and do something meaningful beyond retail therapy.  

Says store architect and designer Andrew Galicci, “[Millennials] and people in general have grown up in much more of an information age and are that much more aware – so doing right by the world is hugely important. That balance is instilled today in a lot of people.” 

Those who haven’t quite figured out that balance may find it here. | @ecoholicnation

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