Jon Loder has a history of in-fashion retail in the city of St. John’s, and he launched Civic Duty as a pop-up in December of 2015, before permanently setting up shop at 4 Clift’s Baird’s Cove in April.
I realized after a few minutes of browsing that it’s more than just your typical boutique clothing outlet. They offer a wide variety of heritage brands, fair-trade goods, and the vibe of the shop feels like a home for a carefully curated collection of high quality products, clothing or otherwise.
“We focus on procuring a collection of items that are made by craftspeople who are passionate about the work they do and are proud to share it with like minded individuals.” Loder explains. “Buying better things, less often means having more time to do the things you love.”
On top of taking a quality over quantity approach to retail, Loder also takes pride in collaborating and being part of the community of downtown St. John’s business owners. This goes as far as Civic Duty supplying staff uniforms for restaurants like The Merchant Tavern.
Civic Duty as a name for the store seems to coincide with helping in the sustainability of an industry, and supporting people who take pride and care in the products they make. In a time where people are more conscious of where their tangible goods come from, knowing the history and reputation of a brand is definitely a plus.
As someone who tends to wear-out an article of clothing until it doesn’t feel acceptable anymore, I appreciate the timeless aesthetic that a lot of these alternative history brands present. While some of the clothing isn’t too chromatic or “loud,” outdoor brands like Filson and Patagonia offer a fashionably rustic look that will hold up through a Newfoundland winter, but don’t look out of place during the fall or spring. Red Wing Heritage is a brand that has been around since 1905, and offer a sturdy build of boot made with premium leather.
You’ll also find Canadian brands like Hudson’s Bay and Naked & Famous hanging on the racks, offering a casual to classy contrast suitable for all seasons, whether it’s a button up shirt or a jumper for your baby. Civic Duty also offer their own in-house clothing such as hoodies, t-shirts and winter hats, all marked with their signature sparrow logo.
What makes Civic Duty stand out for me personally is the non-clothing items they offer on top of the lifestyle wares. Besides accessories like a pre-confederation pendant chain, you can find locally made mugs by Erin Callahan scribed with hilarious Newfoundland lingo, and woodcut prints by local artist Graham Blair.
As a self-proclaimed hot sauce aficionado, I was also happy to discover “Bastid’s Hot Sauce,” created by Paul Murphy from Halifax, also known as world class hip-hop DJ Skratch Bastid.
If you’re looking for a quality article of clothing, or a locally crafted accessory as a gift to someone this holiday season, I recommend stopping in.