London’s ‘coolest’ store, Ont. is back in a new form.
A downtown staple for more than 70 years, Novack’s has been revived — albeit as an occasional pop-up shop — in its original King Street location.
Opened in 1939, Novack’s closed in 2012.
In its time, the store evolved from a music and luggage store to a clothing, army gear and outdoor store.
Novack’s can be seen in its heyday in London, Ont. in this undated image. (Source: Facebook)
Now, thanks to the efforts of a former customer, Novack’s is back.
Marty Colls has secured a storage unit of original stock and is reselling it.
“The quality goods that are still here are still in very good condition,” she explained.
Items include Novack’s famous bags, vintage clothing, and a store staple: army surplus.
Gina Farrugia is seen wearing an early 1990s vintage ski jacket for sale at Novack’s pop-up store in London, Ont. on December 4, 2022. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)
Most date back to the late 1980s and 1990s — the height of Novack’s popularity — when it was a hot spot for youthful shoppers.
“I actually bought my backpack along this wall, the one I brought to Europe right out of college,” says Gina Farrugia, a saleswoman who sells vintage clothing as part of Novack’s pop-up store.
Nostalgia attracts shopper Nora Cuzzocrea. She found a pair of cargo pants that matched those she had bought from Novack in the early 1990s.
Nora Cuzzocrea is seen on December 4, 2022 wearing a surplus of cargo pants from Novack. They match a pair she bought as a teenager in central London, Ontario, in the 1990s. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)
“Oh my gosh, it was definitely the cool place to shop, and you could get affordable stuff to look cool even if you weren’t,” she said.
Even shoppers who weren’t born in the ’90s or who’ve gained weight since seem to understand why Novack’s was “cool.”
“I think there’s a wave of nostalgia right now. There is a taste for vintage and retro,” says shopper Richard Brewer, who is new to London.
Richard Brewer is seen with some of the vintage army surplus available at Novack’s Christmas pop-up shop at its original London location, Ont. on December 4, 2022. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)
And nothing is more retro at Novack than the submarine periscope, installed to look out over London.
It’s still in place, and behind it on Sunday was the store’s last owner, Paul Kaplan.
He is flattered and humbled that his family legacy is suddenly “cool” again.
“What a wonderful world we live in, where things can still be alive after we think they’re gone, but they aren’t,” he told CTV News London.
Paul Caplan, an original owner of Novack’s, is at the helm of the former store’s periscope on December 4, 2022. It drew people to the London, Ont. store in the 1990s. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)
But perhaps only possible because Novack’s original sign and the vintage building it hangs from are still standing.
“The creak of the stairs. I bought my first bottle here. It was something you had to do when you got downtown,” Farrugia concluded.
While the Novack’s pop-up at its original retail location is infrequent, the goods are marketed in multiple open-air markets and online.
You can learn more on Novack’s Instagram page.
An original Novack sign is on display in a pop-up store returning from the famed London, Ont retailer on December 4, 2022. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)