Our Family Store
My uncle, Alex Tilley, a sailor, needed a proper hat that wouldn’t sink, shrink or blow off. Unable to find a good-enough one, and realizing that other sailors needed one too, he decided in January 1980, to oversee the making of a proper Hat.
Within a year, he was selling Tilley Hats at boat shows throughout Eastern North America. Our dad John joined him in ‘81, selling Hats at West Coast shows from Vancouver to Texas. Alex added proper sailing shorts in 1981, and later began to design and make travel and adventure clothing. “Give ‘em Hell” was an early washing instruction.
By 1985, our mom Barbara decided to banish my brother and me upstairs and have a slightly illegal home-basement store, offering Tilley Hats and clothing, by appointment, from a small ad in the North Shore News. Her success led to our first retail location later that year. We still hear from home visitors!
New to retail, our mom’s personality set the client relationship standard, treating visitors as guests, looking for opportunities to demonstrate good service, building a circle of lifetime loyal clients; and staff thereafter copied her lead. It’s all her fault!
Thirty years on, my brother Jeff and I now own and operate our Tilley Vancouver family business; Barbara and John have semi-retired, and uncle Alex has fully retired, having found an excellent new owner for his Tilley Endurables Inc., a fine firm based in England.
Here at home, to complement Tilley travel and adventure clothing, Jeff has brought in clothing from David Cline, Patagonia and Royal Robbins, V.Frass scarves, MyPakage underwear and Instance socks. He’s to blame for the store looking so nice.
The store team, Jeff, and I have agreed on these core values for Tilley Vancouver: Client focused. Do the right thing. Live with passion. Play as a team.