Inside Toronto Denim Institution Over the Rainbow’s New Location in the Manulife Centre
Known for its famed denim wall, Over the Rainbow has moved after 38 years in its Yorkville location.
“If I don’t have jujubes, people think I’m going out of business,” Joel Carman says, motioning towards a bulk jar of the rainbow gummy sweets that have been a staple of Over the Rainbow since he first went into business all the way back in 1975. Carman, the jovial, mustachioed proprietor of the store is the ultimate schmatte. He always knew he’d open a business, and as a child of the Love Generation, the thing he knew best was blue jeans.
When Carman first opened Over the Rainbow in 1975, he rented a cramped 450-square-foot space for the princely sum of $300/month, figuring that if the business didn’t work out, he could just live in the storefront and have a convenient apartment on Bloor Street. But the business took off and Carman quickly relocated into a bigger space on Yorkville Avenue. When Carman’s landlord threatened to double the rent after five years, he called up a friend who works in real estate to help him find his next space. The 3,000 square foot space at 120 Cumberland Street became a local hotspot where many a Torontonian remembers schlepping to buy their first pair of premium jeans. Miraculously, the same real estate contact helped Carman find the Over the Rainbow’s glitzy new home in the newly-renovated Manulife Centre.
The new store has a number of notable design details to look out for. The iconic denim wall, where stacks of jeans in every imaginable shade of blue pile up towards the heavens, remains. There’s a bulletin board made of recycled denim where people can look out for community events. And there’s the 24 karat gold plated sewing machine, gifted to Carman by his good friend Yul Ku, who works for AG Jeans.
In the middle of the store, a glass fishbowl houses the in-house tailoring team where you can peer in and watch jeans subjected to all manners of customization: hemming, tapered, waist cinching. Or as Carman puts it, “We’ll do anything to sell a pair of blue jeans and we’ll do it well.”
Take a peek inside Over the Rainbow’s new location at 55 Bloor St W. Suite 123, inside the Manulife Centre.