Downtown Saskatoon, Oct. 18, 2019 – Credited as fashion leaders in Canada, this power couple has always been at the forefront of Saskatoon’s upscale fashion scene – from the days of a single-breasted vicuna sport coat and a wide geometric tie, to the more current slim fit and jeans-inspired five-pocket pants – and from skirts in every length, paired with opaque stockings and lower heels by day/higher heels at night, to the extensive array of accessories and international designer boots. The Flynn stores never carried anything less than head-turning styles! Elwood + Joan’s distinct passion for design quality and excellence in service made a customer’s experience memorable, resulting in loyal, repeat customers, be they beloved-local or famous-international ones.
In 1946, Elwood began his career in the menswear clothing industry, working with independent business owners, who later became partners, employees, mentors and customers: Mallin’s (eight years – having started part-time in high school), McAskill’s (four years), and Kenwick’s (four years). Having found his destiny in this industry, he was quick to follow suit – he bought out his partners in the Senator Hotel-located business, to open his own eponymous menswear fashion store – Elwood Flynn Ltd.
If you haven’t bought a suit from Elwood – you must, for the experience! Even through the growth of our city, Elwood Flynn Ltd. remains the store to buy from. As the experience goes, he may have greeted you from his classic photo-pose – standing in his grand entrance staircase, unless he met you directly at the door. As he taught his sons to treat everyone with respect and dignity, he led by example offering an outstanding, appreciated tradition of service. Elwood’s personality is the essence of the place, one sales consultant had aptly described.
Joan had started her career in radio, including a morning live show, but it was evident that she was cut from the cloth of a true fashionista as she made the move herself, into the fashion industry. While Joan treated all her customers like royalty, that’s what they thought of her in return. Her son reminisces, when she entered a room, she was noticed and cherished. Joan appreciated working with her customers, who she described as “any age, but very confident”. Today, Joan is missed dearly, even by those who still ask if The Town Cobbler is still open.
Elwood + Joan married in January of the same year they opened Elwood Flynn Ltd. in March, 1956. Elwood was also an avid golfer and hockey player; Joan was additionally an artist, cook, golfer, and basketball player; Both were strong community advocates and supporters. Their belief in strong business clusters being beneficial to all is how the Flynns appreciated working with so many fellow-industry businesses over the years – “people want to shop where there is selection” and that cluster has always been Downtown for the Flynns. Between them, they had their hands and hearts proudly full, as they began their Flynn fashion dynasty.
Downtown Saskatoon’s Flynn Fashion Dynasty
Hotel Senator | 21st Street E
- The Ivy League Shop | co-owned by Elwood | 1954-1956 (closed)
200 – Block | 23rd Street E
- Elwood Flynn Ltd. | Opened in partnership with Joe Bates | (opened) 1956-1970
- The Town Cobbler | They set out to offer the finest quality shoes, rivaling anything you could find in New York | (opened) 1956-1970
- The Clothes Horse + The Village Cobbler | As their parent stores moved from the space, the Flynns additionally opened both extensions to attract a younger demographic, later sold to their respective managers | (opened) 1970-1972 (sold)
Midtown Shopping Centre
- Elwood Flynn Ltd. | “We’re lucky that Midtown came, because it keeps the Downtown healthy.” | 1970-1987
- The Town Cobbler | Also opened locations in Regina + Calgary during the 70s | 1970-1987
- Joan Flynn Apparel | Well, Joan was doing it anyway, so why not make a store of it! | (opened) 1984-1987
Bayside Shopping Centre
- Elwood Flynn Ltd. | For the excitement of the high-end fashion cluster, the Flynns moved their businesses here | 1987-2004
- Joan Flynn Apparel + The Town Cobbler | Enjoying the luxury of the business, Joan retired from here | 1987-2003/2004 (closed)
- Ultimo Euromoda | Following in his parents’ footsteps, son, Barry, opened his own clothing store | (opened) 1989-2004
Avenue Building | 21st Street E
- Elwood Flynn Ltd. | And finally as an anchor tenant to Downtown Saskatoon, located only across the street from Elwood’s first business ventures | 2004-2021
- Ultimo Euromoda | Serving the most stylish men + women with luxury lines not seen elsewhere, the attention to one-on-one service is a family-legacy Barry honours | 2004-today
For LEGENDS DOWNTOWN program details click here.
sources | a lifetime of Flynn’s marketing materials; proud-son, Barry Flynn; various articles from Saskatoon Business + Saskatoon StarPhoenix