Now Or Never

At this clothing store, there are no men's and women's sections

You won't find any gender or size labels here: instead of dividing the store into men's and women's sections, Shop Take Care arranges its rows of clothing by colour.
Stephanie Poruchnyk-Butler is a customer at and employee of Shop Take Care. As someone who identifies as a queer femme woman, she says that working in a space without gender or size labels makes her 'heart sing'. (CBC / Andrew Friesen)
Listen4:45

Buying clothes is something we do all the time, but have you ever really thought about the layout of the stores you buy from? Most likely it's women's on one side and men's on the other. 

But not at Shop Take Care

The Winnipeg vintage and consignment store has purposefully created a space that isn't gendered. Instead of men's on the left, women's on the right, what you'll see are rows of clothing arranged by colour.

"I wanted it to be a very safe inclusive space for all gender expressions and identities," said Jill Zdunich, the owner of Shop Take Care.

Now or Never host Trevor Dineen in a peach-coloured silky top that he would have never picked out. He says it feels so good on his skin he may never take it off. (CBC / Andrew Friesen)

According to Zdunich, the store has been a group effort with close friends and members of the LGBTQ community. 

Opening a business is always a risk. But opening a clothing store without gender or size labels adds an extra challenge. 

Zdunich says there are some people who walk in, look around, and leave. But she's clear when she says she's not doing this for everyone. 

Now or Never host Ify Chiwetelu doesn't often wear dresses and prefers androgynous-style clothing. Shop owner Jill encouraged her to try on this sleeveless dress, something that is out of Ify's comfort zone. (CBC / Andrew Friesen)

"One of the biggest compliments I've had is from a couple of folks who are either transitioning or who don't feel comfortable as trans women going into the woman's section, and having them feel safe and welcomed here. That's been pretty heartwarming," said Zdunich.

Stephanie Poruchnyk-Butler started out as a customer at Shop Take Care and is now an employee. As someone who identifies as a queer, femme woman, she appreciated the opportunity to shop in a space where clothing sizes and shapes weren't dictated — and where her gender non-conforming friends could shop comfortably along side her. 

When Poruchnyk-Butler came out, she started dressing the way she thought lesbians should dress. That meant giving up skirts and dresses in favour of jeans and button-ups. 

Eventually, she found her own style — bright colours, clashing patterns, and form-fitting skirts that showed off her stomach. The shop has provided an opportunity for Poruchnyk-Butler to not only add to her collection of fabulous, femme clothes, but to be able to express herself in her workplace.

"Growing up as a queer femme with acne who was overweight and looked a lot different than everyone else in my class, it was really important for me to reclaim the way that I looked instead of shying away or trying to fit in," said Poruchnyk-Butler. "So with things being arranged by colour and not by size [or gender], it kind of makes my heart sing."

Ify and Trevor in front of the 'Hey There Handsome' section at Shop Take Care, before their makeovers. (CBC / Andrew Friesen)

This encore Now or Never segment originally aired in June 2018

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