Office Space

Inside Shopify's Intoxicating Distillery-Turned-Office Space

The ecommerce platform's headquarters was formerly a Seagram's distillery -- and the building's history is still showcased and celebrated.
Inside Shopify's Intoxicating Distillery-Turned-Office Space
Image credit: Adam Friedberg
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This story appears in the April 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Barrell Hall isn’t your typical employee cafeteria. When Shopify holds company-wide meetings, staff gathers here, in a cavernous space with whiskey barrels stacked to the rafters. The ecommerce platform developer’s Waterloo, Canada, office was formerly a Seagram’s distillery, and the building’s intoxicating history is still showcased and celebrated. Shopify, of course, has updated the space to make it work-ready. Individual phone booths, pods, flexible work areas and even a video-game room where employees can escape combine to create a uniquely productive space for Shopify’s employees -- all of whom spend their days working to improve commerce for business owners large and small. And we bet they have one hell of a happy hour.

Related: Rocking Out Inside Fender's Office

Julia Bowen

Sales lead

“A lot of people see culture as corporate values or free lunches. But it’s so much more than that. It’s having a set of principles that people are committed to every day. One is ‘Act like an owner,’ and I think about that pretty much daily. Whenever I find myself thinking, That’s not my job or Someone else will get it, I just do it instead. It allows us to all work toward a common goal.” 

Charlie Elliott

Director of Product, International

“I’ve been at a lot of companies where you’re offered flexibility, and it’s like, You can come in an hour earlier or later. But here, the true flexibility allows me to be really present for my kids. My number one goal at this stage in my life is to be a really great dad. I can walk my kids to school in the morning or get them to karate and dance lessons on time. It doesn’t feel like my life goals are in competition with my work goals.”

Related: Take a Step Inside LinkedIn's Office Space

Brian Potstra

Senior Designer

“I like that we really advocate for the entrepreneurial spirit here. That’s not just part of our mandate to make commerce better for everyone -- even internally, everyone is enabled and encouraged to take on that entrepreneurial spirit. That’s a pretty unique thing.” 

Amy Gill

User Experience Researcher

“The past jobs I’d held were at pretty large corporations, and the culture at Shopify is just very different. Shopify shares a lot of information with its employees, which means we can share a lot of information with each other about what we’re doing, so we don’t have to be secretive.”

Tammy Connelly

Talent Acquisition Lead 

“The historical feel is awe-­inspiring, and I love that no matter what I want to accomplish, I can have the space I need -- quiet, or an open, interactive space. I have not had an assigned desk for the better part of a year, and that was my choice. According to my mood and what I need from my workday, I can move about.” 

Ray Owais

People Accelerator

“My role is to help rev up our new sales talent. We have a unique hiring process—we hire people who don’t necessarily have sales experience. Instead, they have characteristics we look for, and we believe we can train them for sales. Our VP has a philosophy around this: Hire for the things we can’t teach, and teach the things we can.”

Related: Seeing is Believing: Step Inside Warby Parker's Headquarters

Aamina Parkar

Senior Business Operations Coordinator

“We have an internal bot that automatically sets up weekly meetings with random individuals in the office. It allows us to grab a coffee or a beer, sit down, and learn what they do at work and what they like to do outside of work. It’s just a great way to feel comfortable in the environment you work in, and helps us tear down any walls.”

Mohammed Ridwanul Islam

Software Developer

“Most people would think 90 percent of my job is writing code, but that’s just about 50 percent of my time. The rest is spent talking to our customers, and trying to figure out the actual problem we need to solve. It can be really easy to get distracted by the solution, but you have to make sure you’re solving the right problem.”

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Image Credit: Adam Friedberg

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