Portolano in Prescott brings warmth to the season

By: Deanna Clark

Volume 16, Issue 11, November 2021

[Editor's Note: Canadian Leeds Grenville Economic Development Office produces a newsletter introducing some of the county's industries. The Portolano story is both interesting and appropriate as so many of our US readers may not be aware that this warehouse store is well stocked and provides good reason to cross the border!]

Karen Price of Portolano is surrounded by colour in the newly expanded and renovated outlet store in Prescott. [Photo courtesy Leeds Grenville Economic Development Office]

Get ready for an unforgettable array of colours in fashion, gloves and scarves when you visit the Portolano outlet store here.

The Fort Town's Portolano Products (Canada) Inc. is the only Canadian distributor and is a bonded warehouse shipping premiere quality leather and cashmere fashions worldwide. It has been a mainstay in Prescott since 1986 and is the sole remaining outlet store of its kind in eastern Ontario.

"You're going to find unique items here in colours you won't see in major retail outlets," says General Manager Sandra Shay. "We're special and have maintained our mandate to offer superior quality and service."

It is also a place where they will measure you for the perfect fit in gloves. "We feel we offer fantastic quality and amazing prices while providing excellent service," says Sandra.

"Gloves and having the perfect fit are very important here at Portolano," Sandra says.

On Prescott's waterfront with Ally Armstrong wearing Portolano fashions and gloves. [Photo courtesy Leeds Grenville Economic Development Office]

Portolano products are admired around the world, including its cashmere shawls, wraps and sweaters for both men and women. Leather still comes from the company's tannery in Naples, Italy, and is then sent to Baguio, Philippines where there is a cooler climate ideal for making leather gloves. Products are then shipped to warehouses in Italy, the US and Canada.

"Portolano is completely vertical as a company," says Sandra, noting it does not rely on a third party to produce its leather gloves and other products.

New products have also recently been added. Sandra commissioned fibre artist Wendo VanEssen, a Prescott native who has worked with Pixar and Disney, in the creation of unique four-season ponchos. Wendo's art is beautifully printed on the four pieces - one for each season - which can be worn six different ways.

"I love the connection having a Prescott artist and the concept of unique things not being done anywhere else," says Sandra. "You see her heart in every piece."

"We are also a destination with our newly opened museum exhibit," says Karen Price, who gathered memorabilia and outlined the Portolano's 126-year history dating back to its Italian founders. The exhibit, which opened in October, is called "One Stone at a Time" and highlights the Portolano brothers as well as the Elliott and Fischl families who operated the Prescott location over the course of years.

Portolano scarves and gloves in a rainbow of colours. [Photo courtesy Leeds Grenville Economic Development Office]

"We are thinking outside the box to provide people a glimpse into our colourful history," says Karen of the exhibit. She has been working on it for two years and says it evolved into an amazing journey with surviving local workers providing stories and items about the history of the building and glove making traditions in Prescott.

Learn more about Portolano on their new website, check out their Facebook page and see some of their reviews on TripAdvisor. Give them a call at 613-925-4242 or send them an email. Portolano is located at 840 Walker Street in Prescott.

By Deanna Clark, Economic Development Officer for Leeds Grenville

Deanna is involved in ongoing business retention and marketing projects and spearheads the bi-weekly online Economic Development eNewsletter. She also also provides content and photographs for the Leeds Grenville Discover website. Deanna holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Trent University, a Print Journalism and Photography Diploma from Algonquin College and brings 25 years of writing, editing and photography skills to the position.

Posted in: Volume 16, Issue 11, November 2021, News article

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