In celebration of Gap Canada’s 25th anniversary, we talked to longtime store manager Raina Stein, who has been with the brand since it first headed north.
In 1989, Raina Stein was studying at York University to become a French teacher, but her plans soon shifted when she was hired at Gap. Fondly looking back now, she says there’s no doubt her switch to a retail career is directly linked to the brand’s launch in Canada 25 years ago.
“If you got into Gap, it was like ‘Retail University.’ Everyone respected the infrastructure. It was a proud moment when I started,” says Stein, now an assistant customer experience manager at Gap Bloor St. in Toronto.
As Raina tells it, it’s been quite the 25 years.
There was the in-store proposal from a persistent admirer in 1994. There was her sister’s 2000 wedding where she wore a Gap cotton shirt – Raina’s nod to Sharon Stone’s buzzworthy red carpet maneuver. There were the times she dyed Gap white limited edition pieces black – her favourite colour.
But Raina credits Gap’s ability to evolve as one of the main reasons she’s remained with the company.
“Gap has always been innovative and continues to evolve which is what I love about it,” she said. “The core values of the company have not changed. They care about their people and empower their leaders.”
And it’s Raina’s passion that Gap seems to love just as much about her. In this day and age where followers and likes are virtual gold, the loyalty Raina’s customers have to her attests to her charismatic persona that keeps people coming back.
On any given day, you can find her with a pair of skinny jeans draped over her shoulder, dressing some of the same people she first connected with in 1989. The difference now is she’s styling their children and grandchildren too.
“Gap is right on trend and we know what we’re doing,” she says like a proud aunt. “The fabrics are amazing but at the same time we’re getting back to where we came from and people love it.”