Neighbourhood Shopping Guide: Parkdale edition (part 1)
Once home to Toronto’s waterfront community, Parkdale changed gears after the Gardiner Expressway was built, drawing a far more working-class crowd. While in recent years the strip of Queen Street between Dufferin and Roncey has often been characterised as a no-man’s land, this west-end hood is now on the up. With its own unique flavour, Parkdale is home to several hot restaurants — Grand Electric, Keriwa Café and the just-opened Chantecler — but it’s the hood’s eclectic mix of stores that interest us here. You can get your hands on everything from contemporary jewellery to 19th century antiques. In fact, there’s so much choice, we've had to split this Neighbourhood Guide into two. Here, we give you the finest shops in Parkdale’s east end.
With its two incarnations perched on opposite sides of Queen Street, this duo of jewellery emporiums act as both retail locations and artist studios. Having recently celebrated 10 years of business, the south-side boutique focuses on fun and fanciful baubles, while the north-side shop is reserved for more upscale pieces that won’t fall prey to trends du jour. With 20 in-house designers and over 100 local jewellers showing their wares, this is the one place where it’s safe to say there’s something for everyone. Of the costume pieces, we fell for a cameo ring featuring a skeleton’s profile ($25) and porcelain rings dotted with flora and fauna ($45) that would look right at home at a street market in Delft. Across the way, a Roxx jewels choker spun from rhinestones and glass beads demanded our attention ($695), while a pair of Melanie Leblanc cuffs — hand-formed with wax before being cast — had us at first glance (from $700).
1273 and 1338 Queen St. W., 416-463-2136 and 416-516-9595
Owners Colleen Ramage and Aaron Doucet are known around town for their highly covetable gear. Mixing together vintage, new and pieces that Ramage has altered, Philistine has well-priced goods for both men and women. While we still love the neon Cambridge satchels that stormed Fashion Week ($150), we also had our eye on the Baggu leather bags that resemble a plastic shopping tote ($176). Dyed denim shorts in colours like turquoise and canary yellow are easy to envision wearing all summer long ($40), while a tobacco-box printed button-down has the gaudiness of a Hawaiian shirt, but still carries downtown appeal ($30). Best of all are the collar tips from Nevada ($10-$30), which are an easy way to revive an old favourite shirt.
1394 Queen St. W., 416-532-3662
At their store named after their respective grandmothers, owners Meg Watson and Carrie Butt have carefully chosen labels like Australia’s Vanishing Elephant, California’s Life After Denim and England’s Grafea. Toronto lines 18 Waits and United Denim are also available, in addition to the pair’s own line of well-crafted garb. Reversible shorts for men feature a blue and red check on one side, and flip to reveal a pale blue option ($115), while a pair of brightly patterned and cuffed shorts are for the man who doesn’t shy from making a statement ($170). We loved a black leather rucksack that looks durable enough to last a lifetime ($268), while a pair of brick wall earrings are a must for the avid Pink Floyd fan ($45). The store’s own line includes pieces like a black and white tencel tank with a patch pocket that’ll go with just about anything ($70).
1390 Queen St. W., 416-531-8892
Ladies head here first and foremost for Yoga jeans, of which Shopgirls has the biggest selection in the country. Made in Montreal, the jeans possess a stretch factor far greater than your average jean, but are designed for the average woman. The most popular cut sits right below the navel, though other styles are available — and yes, apparently you can do yoga in them. But those aren’t the only things to look out for. The store only carries Canadian designers, and we loved a dark teal blouse with an asymmetrical hemline from Véronique Miljkovitch ($160) and a leather neck piece by local designer Susana Erazo ($165). A reCYCLEr hot-pink tray constructed from discarded bicycle bits is upcycling at its finest ($150), while an Avril Loreti pouch starring a print of Hawaii is right on trend for the season ($35).
1342 Queen St. W., 416-534-7467
Sister to downtown’s bargain-bin extravaganza Black Market, this well-priced vintage emporium just blew out the candles at its fourth birthday party. It’s the place to go for a $20 pick-me-up piece, shoppers are guaranteed to find old military jackets and rustic leather belts alongside sequined sweaters, tees shouting your love for the hood and a large assortment of cheap ’n’ cheerful sunglasses. Out front, colourful chairs hug either side of the sidewalk (from $25); inside, barn boards can be picked up for between $5 and $10 per foot — a great score for the budding restaurateur.
1290 Queen St., W., 416-535-4343
Named after hardworking European settlers, this consignment shop — the sibling to the Riverside store of the same name — opened up on this side of town in 2010. Those looking to update their wardrobe can bring in clothes to trade (provided that they’re approved) or receive cash for their pre-owned duds. We were drawn to a floor-dusting floral print dress in shades of hot pink ($26) and a black and white checkered dress featuring a red embroidered pattern ($46). A cotton kimono with Japanese temple scenes was a nice alternative to a robe ($34), while a men’s toggle coat with a green and blue print reminded us of Pendleton ($40).
1414 Queen St. W., 416-463-7678
The best finds at Studio Brillantine, Conspiracy Culture, Arcadia Antiques, My Roll Life, Hideaway Antiques and Sam the Chandelier Man