Rob Clarke and Justin Der started Foosh in the late 90’s. Rob was DJing, touring, putting out his own records. Justin was designing a clothing line. Both had day jobs they quit to open a business selling music, clothing, sneakers, and toys — a business you can now find under a bright orange marquee on Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue.
From the start, Foosh was chasing street cool in places like New York, Los Angeles, Berlin — bringing in labels and sounds you couldn’t find anywhere else in the city. The store’s support grew from a loyal, plugged in core to a local segment (collectors, students, high school kids) that was leaning away from mainstream mass consumer goods — folks who were drawn to the energy, ideas, and authenticity of street culture.
Along the way, the Foosh owners spun off a house line, riffing on iconic images and creating whimsical Edmonton themed designs. In look and sound, the local market was years behind the cutting edge. The business of Foosh was (and is) to close the gap.
“Foosh stays as current as we can be so you don’t feel you missed out,” says Rob Clarke. “It’s out there in Japan, New York, or wherever. We’ll find it, and if we like it, and we think our customers will like it, we’ll bring it in. We change every two or three years. We’re a record store, a clothing shop, we’re selling sneakers, now art toys are big.”
Nothing feels mass market here. An eclectic mix of electronic, pop, and old school hip hop comes courtesy of a DJ in the back of the store. The floor space is filled with clever and cool pieces that draw notice: the Obey line, Kidrobot toys and graphic tees, Native shoes, Herschel bags, Foosh hats. Store policy is to order a limited quantity of sizes and styles even for their most popular labels.
“When you’re wearing something from our store, you can be pretty sure nobody else is wearing it,” Rob explains. “We have a handful of size 10s for the Fitzsimmons. It’s a great shoe. People want it. But it’s not like Lacoste — not everyone has it.”
Even while juggling other business ventures and busy personal lives, Rob and Justin often work the store along with their small, tight-knit staff. They make it a point to stay eye level with their customers. It’s an effective feedback loop. Whether they do something right or screw up, their customers quickly let them know. The conversation has been going on for over a decade. It’s a big part of what’s made Foosh a much-loved Edmonton independent business fixture.
“We’ve learned a lot,” Rob says. “We’ve learned there’s only so much time, and that, as owners, your time is worth a lot. When you’re in this business, you’re always coming up with ideas. The hard part is to know how to say no, I can’t do that.”
What’s next for Foosh? An online store to make it easier for customers to order their favourite lines and getting more creative with the in-store experience — while being more disciplined with how they do business. Rob, who takes care of the business side of Foosh, is happy to have Origami Accounting to help him walk that line.
“It’s really nice to have my accounting figured out,” Rob says. “I lost a couple of years trying to get a handle on my business (the bookkeeping and accounting), and it really took away from what I liked most: doing creative stuff, interacting with customers.”
“I burned through a lot of accounting firms and bookkeepers. Whenever I could get through to just talk to an accountant, I was always on the meter. Now, I ask you guys at Origami a question and Kris emails me back same day with the answer. And no surprise bills.”