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Pressure Drop Makes Waves in Ford City 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

An entrepreneur duo is reinventing Windsor’s Ford City as a vibrant destination district for shopping, eating and drinking by bringing a unique retail experience to 1055 Drouillard Road.

Pressure Drop is a men’s and women’s clothing boutique, cafe, bar and all-round hangout place offering unique brands from Hawaii and Australia, as well as locally made products. Customers can enjoy a beer, glass of wine, or a cup of freshly brewed coffee while socializing and perusing the store. The store also serves as a nifty event and pop-up space for local businesses or artists looking to rent out a place with a cool vibe and the benefit of a liquor license.

The idea for Pressure Drop started five years ago when owners Michael Weber and Marina Maffessanti were in Los Angeles and came across an interesting business concept that mixed retail with eating and drinking - all revolving around the owner’s love for fixing up vintage motorcycles.

“We really liked the whole concept of a business as not just a place to buy things, but as a versatile space to build a community of people sharing one passion,” said Weber. “We thought we could replicate that here in Windsor-Essex around the coastal laidback lifestyle that we love.” 

Weber and Maffessanti both lived in the Caribbean and California, so the name they choose for the business follows in line with the coastal theme. Pressure Drop is a reference to low pressure weather systems that brings wind and waves, which are great for sailors and surfers. It’s also the name of an iconic Jamaican ska song.

Since opening in March, Weber and Maffessanti have been pleasantly surprised by people’s response to a business like this in Windsor. “There’s obviously an appetite for new and interesting things in this area and it’s super cool to see everyone’s excitement — there’s almost a relief that we are here” stated Weber.

“We anticipate it will take two years to get going and probably five years before this street is back to its vibrancy that will really support our [business] growth,” added Weber. “We are excited about not just starting our business but also reimagining how this part of the city will look like in the future. This will be a slow growth game, but we are in it for the long haul.”

According to Weber, his favourite part about running Pressure Drop is developing and executing a growth strategy. “Both of us really enjoy creating day-to-day sales tactics and a long-term strategic gameplay. We both race sailboats together and it’s really similar: design a plan and execute it.”

To add to their success, Weber and Maffessanti have recently expanded to include a more robust e-commerce component, offering free local shipping. They also added a loyalty program where customers can earn twice as many points for in-store purchases, which in turn helps to drive traffic to the store. 

“We are hoping to acquire the vacant lot next door to build a nice summer drinking patio and expand our liquor sales,” stated Weber. “This will also help us compete as a rental space for events and local pop-up shops. We really want to expand our revenue streams, while ensuring everything revolves around our brand: being creative, having a sense of adventure and living in the moment.”

The couple’s accomplishments have not come without sacrifice. They had to sell their sailboat to generate the cash required to invest in the business. “The costs for renovating the space were much higher than anticipated … and inefficiencies were probably our biggest barriers. Do not underestimate the amount of cash and time required to startup,” advised Weber.

Regardless of the initial setbacks, both owners strongly believe in their business and feel building community around a lifestyle and culture is fun and rewarding. “We jumped into a big project: purchasing a building, renovating it, and starting three businesses in one — definitely not for the faint of heart.”

 

Michael Weber is a client of the WindsorEssex Small Business Centre and received support and mentorship through the Starter Company Plus program. You, too, can receive support in launching or expanding your small business. Contact the WindsorEssex Small Business Centre for more information.