The Big White Toque: 10,000 sold in 14 months


If you’ve walked around Big White Ski Resort, you’ve probably seen dozens of Big White toques – the colourful hats with their huge white pom-poms. Over the last 14 months, the humble accessory has become one of the most recognisable icons of the resort. This is how it became more popular than anyone could have predicted. 

It all began with one magic number. 800. Suzy Bennett, the VP of Retail and Rentals at Big White, was speaking to her supplier when he mentioned that one ski resort had managed to sell 800 of the same toque in one season.

Suzy couldn’t believe it. In all her years of retail experience in Canada and Australia, she’d never heard of anyone selling 800 of the same toque.

“That’s not possible,” she said, but her supplier insisted that it was. And in that moment, Suzy decided that Big White could do even better.

From there, Suzy started to work out what a best-selling toque might look like. She knew that she wanted some white on it, and that it had to have a pom-pom that looked like a snowball. Her supplier insisted that no one wore pom-poms anymore, but Suzy went with it. “I single-handedly decided to bring back the pom,” she says.

Eventually the design was finalised, and Suzy ambitiously ordered 800 of the hats. They arrived in store in December 2013 and flew out the door immediately.

It’s now February 2015. In 14 months, Suzy and her team have managed to produce Big White toques in 20 different colours and sell 10,000 of them.

The toques are all over the Village now. Often, you’ll see entire families all dressed in matching toques – one each, in all kinds of different colours. The toques been spotted at football games in Australia, at Keith Urban concerts in Canada and at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. One has even been worn in the Arctic Circle.

Suzy believes there are a few reasons behind their popularity. The first is simple: they are great quality toques. Proudly made in Canada, the toques are created in a special factory in Montreal and the pom-poms are handmade. This ensures that toques can be made quickly and well; it also means that Canadians are employed, particularly through the summer months.

It helps that the toques look good, too. Available in a range of bright colours, people can choose their favourite at any given time, based on what’s available.

“People just keep coming into the store and commenting on how lovely the hat is,” Suzy says. “I’ve stood there and marvelled at it – in all my years in retail, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Big White toques are available in Ski Dazzle, inside the Village Centre Mall at Big White Ski Resort. Currently available in children’s size, or adult’s S/M or L/XL size, and in a variety of colours. Soon to also be available in baby sizes.

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