*This article was originally published in a lawyerly magazine I write for on the side- but since my creativity well is running mighty dry, And you can buy most of this stuff online also, thought I’d repost it here. Enjoy!
The holiday season is upon us, and with all of the parties, potlucks, and year-end tax restructuring, who has time to schlep around from store to store in search of the perfect gift? So to save your friends and family from socks and Starbucks cards, here’s a roundup of the best places in Toronto to find thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list.
For the foodie
The Good Egg (267 Augusta Avenue).
This Kensington Market outfit has everything you need to make your kitchen Instagram-worthy: rare cookbooks, artisan-crafted aprons, Le Creuset cookware and a vast collection of kitchen gadgets you never knew you needed.
And while you’re in Kensington, check out Toronto Popcorn Company (147 Baldwin Street). This shop devoted strictly to popcorn (which I thought only existed in my dreams) offers over 100 unique and delicious flavors — from maple bacon, to caramel pina colada. Single bags are $4 and you can even mix and match (in a stroke of genius, I once combined pizza and cookies and cream).
For the CanCon enthusiast
Drake General Store (various locations).
From maple syrup-scented candles to mountie-printed adult onesies, Drake General Store has everything you need to show your Canadiana-loving friend some true patriot love.
And for some distinctively Toronto gear, check out Drake’s newly opened OVO store near Trinity Bellwoods (899 Dundas Street West). There you’ll find a wide assortment of printed toques, tees and hip hop gear to keep your friends and family proudly repping #The6.
For the little ones
Kol Kid (647 Queen Street West).
This indie kids’ retailer specializes in unique children’s clothing, accessories, and killer toys you may or may not want to keep for yourself. My nieces especially love the handmade moccasins and Taro Gomi activity books.
For the ladies
While you’re strolling down Queen West, drop by Coal Miner’s Daughter (744 Queen Street West), a cute boutique specializing primarily in pieces by Canadian clothing and jewelry designers at reasonable price points. (I’ve got my eye on these sweet Labradorite Rings).
Montreal-based retailer Frank & Oak just opened up shop in Toronto (735 Queen Street West) with its line of hip and affordable menswear. Browse their collection of colourful khakis, elbow-patched cardigans and incredibly sophisticated grooming products as you sip an Americano from their fancy in-store café.
For the audiophile
For the hi-fi fanatic on your list, check out the new and improved Sonic Boom (215 Spadina), a bigger, badder version of the beloved music store that combines both the former Annex and Kensington Market locations. With nearly 12,000 sq feet of vinyl, CDs, and merchandise (there’s a section devoted entirely to music-themed literature), even the most discerning Rob Gordon types will be impressed.
For the bookworm
Check out Type Books (883 Queen Street West) for a well-curated selection of staff favourites that put “Heather’s Picks” to shame. Type carries a broad collection of small-press and independent titles, including tough-to-find newspapers and magazines. And for the bookworm-in-training, head uptown to Mabel’s Fables (662 Mt. Pleasant Road), a whimsical, fairy-tale inspired children’s book store that you might just want to move into. Located in an old, two-story house, Mabel’s carries hundreds of titles organized by age group and is known for its incredibly helpful and inspired staff.
For the unconventional
Blue Banana (250 Augusta Avenue). This two-story artist collective in Kensington Market is filled to the brim with one-of-a-kind gift ideas: jewelry, house wares, vintage décor; there’s even a wall filled with gourmet hot sauces for the Sriracha-obsessed. Labor of Love (242 Carlton Street) in Cabbagetown is also a great spot for eclectic gifts, and carries a diverse collection of handmade jewelry, quality paper goods, and adorable kitsch (like this fixie bike pizza cutter).