Father’s Day Picks from Zuse Store Owner, Dale Millstein

Dale Millstein ditched his career in finance to open Zuse, a try-before-you-buy grooming store in downtown Toronto. We got the scoop on this “modern brick and mortar” and the best Father’s Day picks in his shop

What made you want to open a grooming store?

People say retail is dying. I don’t think so, I think retail is changing. I think this store is a good showcase of how it’s changing: A smaller footprint, where you can come in and try products. It’s a modern brick-and-mortar concept.

Do you anticipate a lot of Father’s Day shopping?

It’s great because we have kids coming in to pick up something for themselves, but they are also here to pick up something for Dad. I’ve been told that mothers teach daughters about skincare and makeup but what we have with men is the younger generation is teaching the older generation about products they can use to help with puffiness and fine lines.

What are some different products that interest different age groups?

We have things for anti-aging for men considering getting something like that, and also moisturizers for those who are just starting to protect themselves from the sun. And for the millennials who are always on camera, we have makeup and what we are calling advanced skincare to make it more accessible. I have some younger cousins who are loving the camo sticks.

How did your background in finance lead you to this?

I’ve done auditing, accounting and restructuring so I’ve done a lot on that side of retail and merchandizing. I did an MBA and was looking for an idea to run with. I was in the shower looking at whatever I was using at the time, which contained parabens, phthalates, etc. And I’m like, ‘I’m eating salads, avoiding fried food and I need to be more cognizant of what I’m putting on my body.’

What kind of research did you do?  

I would go to places like Sephora, which I found intimidating — you have to walk all through the women’s stuff. They carried a few boutique brands, but I’m a fan of selection and I thought, ‘I think other guys will be fans of selection, too.’ A friend of mine who is a chemist helped me to understand what all the ingredients are in the products and what they do. And I also had a peer group of 10 guys with a range of grooming levels — from super slicked back hair to the surf look — I would give them samples and we would go through and figure out what products they liked and why.

Are you stocking many Canadian brands?

It’s been hard to find Canadian products. Eventually the other side of this business is going to be having our own line for gaps in the products we stock here. We have four or five we are working on right now that fill these spaces. 


Dale’s Father’s Day Picks


Fragrance-Free Skin FIx

“Simply put, it prevents skin irritation after shaving. The absence of perfume, alcohol and parabens is fantastic for several reasons: first, it will be tolerated by all skin types, second it goes on in invisibly and lastly it wont compete with any fragrances applied after shaving. This is great for a dad who wants to feel fresh and clean after a shave, and still have room to apply cologne.” Feret Parfumeur Bloc Hyalin, $19.

Face Treat

“Body washes and bar soaps are typically formulated for the body, resulting in dry skin when used on your face. This cleanses the skin of excess oil and dirt but does not over-dry it and contains refreshing eucalyptus and tea tree. It is ideal for the dad that suffers from oily skin, but is great for normal skin, too.”  Fulton & Roark Face Wash, $30.

Slough Stuff

“Exfoliating products are my personal favourite as they make a large difference to your skin texture and tone. Exfoliating is especially important for shaving because it helps prevent ingrown hairs. Most guys, bearded or not, are hesitant to try scrubs, but they really are a game changer. This product is fantastic because it has great dirt-and-debris-removing ingredients such as glycolic acid as well as anti-inflammatory turmeric and antioxidant sea buckthorn extract. A face scrub is the gift dads didn't know they needed, but won't live without once they try it.” Port Products Skin Renewing Face Scrub, $39.

Moisture Must

“All skin types need moisturizer, even oily skin and they are the step in skincare where powerful anti-aging ingredients are introduced. (This lotion contains chamomile, calendula, barley and aloe vera to soothe irritation and hydrating sodium hyaluronate.) For dads who are looking to jump into a skin-care routine, the Buckler's moisturizer is great and it can be easily combined with the Buckler's face oil for added moisturizing benefits.” Buckler's Daily Face Repair, $55.

Time Trials

“Serums are designed to penetrate deeply into the skin and perform on a molecular level. This is the strongest anti-aging serum we carry. The Anti-Aging Eraser will resurface the skin, reduce the look of wrinkles and encourage the skin to produce more collagen (the main chemical that gives our skin elasticity and plumpness). This product is fantastic for dads that have spent countless sleepless nights worrying about their children and for expectant grandfathers who want to look their best in photos with their grandchildren.”  Menaji Anti-Aging Eraser $106.

Heather Marrin