The Best Shopping in Toronto

Toronto’s got the international labels and brands, it’s got classic department stores the Bay and Holt Renfrew, but its shopping scene has also got a funky side that you may not expect. Find records and books, and vintage costumes and beautifully restored couture dresses, and lots of unique finds—many of local design—in the shops and boutiques along Queen Street West, in York, and right in the heart of downtown.

128 Cumberland St, Toronto, ON M5R 1A6, Canada
With a client roster that includes Kate Moss and Lady Gaga, Divine Decadence Originals clearly knows its stuff. Located in the tony Yorkville neighborhood, this vintage-couture boutique offers rack after rack of extraordinary garments, both big-name (think Valentino, Lanvin, and Chanel) and no- name (like a Bolivian embroidered-velvet jacket). No matter the piece, vivacious owner Carmelita Blondet knows its history and provenance. She buys from the original owners, not auction houses, so the items carry a special magic.
2959 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6P 1Z2, Canada
Design fans fond of minimalism and Marie Kondo can add another M to their repertoire: Mjölk. Swedish for “milk"—and pronounced mi-yelk—this lifestyle shop and gallery is all about simple beauty. Housed in a Victorian building in the Junction neighborhood, Mjölk brings Scandinavian and Japanese artists and artisans under one roof, offering everything from a Shaker-style peg rack to a silver sugar bowl to a rust-colored Arne Jacobson sofa. In addition to showcasing noted names, John and Juli Baker, the husband-and-wife team behind the business, have funneled their expertise into locally produced design collaborations.
102 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 2Z4, Canada
This charming jewelry boutique on Ossington features one-of-a-kind pieces that incorporate both vintage sensibilities and modern styles. Finished items set with semiprecious stones are displayed alongside loose beads and trinkets that the owner will transform into craveworthy baubles. If you don’t know what to do with a broken heirloom, Anice will bring it back to life. Despite the mash-up of materials, the pieces are quite delicate and prove easy to wear or receive as a gift. The shop occasionally holds jewelry-design workshops.
1191 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1X3, Canada
In Portuguese, saudade is yearning for something that once was. And at Saudade, a lifestyle store smack in the center of Toronto’s Little Portugal neighborhood, the goal is to make the customer yearn for the old country (or wish a country as cool as Portugal were their old country). White walls provide the backdrop for a variety of handmade crafts and Portuguese products. Wrapped soaps from Porto, vividly colored ceramic pitchers, handbags basket-woven in rainbow hues, painted serving platters, and wooden racks displaying gorgeous textiles of cotton and wool fill the shop.
93 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1C3, Canada
Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market is crammed with 120 vendors, butcher counters, bakeries, ethnic eateries, and seafood shops. But there’s one reason why most people come here: the peameal bacon sandwich, which is dished up at the Carousel Bakery. It’s not really bacon—or at least not the bacon you usually eat—but rather tender, thicker strips of pork, cut from the loin and then rolled in peameal (like cornmeal but made from peas), and served on a kaiser roll with a swipe of mustard. It’s a porklicious treat!
1167 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1X3, Canada
Grasshopper Records is a vinyl outpost on Dundas West well worth a look if you’re a sonic purist, or in the market for the best in Toronto indie music. The owner is a Toronto rocksmyth of some renown, but I won’t spoil the surprises for you here – better you experience Grasshopper for yourself.
1231 A Dundas Street West
Tempt fate at the Monkey Paw’s Book-O-Matic machine, where for the price of a toonie you’ll be delivered an archaic tome in the vein of Elementary Arabic, Vol. 3. I’ll let you know how my studying gets on. The Monkey’s Paw is an eclectic vintage bookstore on Dundas with a collection of unique books, vintage maps, and bugs preserved in Lucite.
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