Marg McAlister spent a lot of years in the high-pressure worlds of nursing and health care policy making, but these days she’s having a lot more fun despite the challenges that come with launching a new business.
McAlister is co-owner of Trouvelle, alongside partner Lisa Ferguson who also owns Hanger 9 and Accents.
The three interconnected shops, located at 620 Richmond St., offer women’s clothing, purses, shoes and accessories.
But in defining her space specifically, McAlister explains Trouvelle has a little bit of everything.
“I call it luxury items for home and travel. It’s about treats you would just love to have in your home or to give to someone else,” she said. “We purposefully don’t buy a lot of anything because we want to keep it special. It’s about having really special things you will want to keep in your family or will have been proud to give.”
McAlister grew up in London, but moved away with her family as a young girl before returning in the late ‘80s.
A nurse by training, McAlister worked in hospital intensive care and emergency units before returning to London to help launch the old children’s emergency room.
When she was restructured out of that world she went into private practice, basically doing strategy and policy work, primarily in the areas of homecare and seniors care.
A lot of her work had been intense, “life and death sometimes,” but the time came where she just decided a different approach was necessary.
“I was getting to a point — I call it my midlife crisis — where I was just ready for a change. I’d been a client of Lisa’s since the mid-90s. We talked . . . and decided what London needed, particularly with Kingsmill’s leaving, was this kind of store,” McAlister said. “So if we partnered and made it part of a continuous space, it would almost be like a mini-Kingsmill’s. You could buy the clothes, buy things for your home, for travel. It was one of those things, you have a million conversations, but then necessity turns into opportunity.”
Trouvelle opened its doors on March 6 and McAlister said she’s been smiling pretty much ever since.
The decision to come together downtown can be traced, at least in some part McAlister explains, to the fact Ferguson — and her mother who ran Hanger 9 before her — has a real passion for Richmond Row.
It was a decision she’s embraced.
“I love downtown. I’m living downtown now. I was coming to work the other day, as I came along Central, and looking at the park, thinking this is the life,” McAlister said. “There is just an energy down here. The other retailers are welcoming and supportive. The opportunity to collaborate is there. I just love it.”
When she isn’t working, McAlister embraces things like playing bridge and going to the theatre.
But most of all, reading is the best way for her to pass the time, adding, “There is nothing like a good murder mystery to take your mind off everything.”
She’s actually embraced another hobby, one she hopes others will follow her in — “finding the gems” that exist in downtown London.
“What we try to do is source delightful items you can’t get elsewhere in London,” she said. “So far, it’s been a great partnership and a great opportunity. Between Lisa and myself, we’re just so excited for Londoners to discover our store.”