It’s common knowledge that Toronto is home to some of the best shopping in Canada, brimming with unique and hidden stores and boutiques. Unbeknownst to you, these little shops often get overlooked due to their inconspicuous appearances and locations, but trust, once you’ve had a visit you’re going to want to go back.
Whether it’s vintage books, hard-to-come-by Japanese groceries, or one-of-a-kind gifts, you’ll have trouble finding these products anywhere else in the city.
Here are 10 hidden gem stores to shop in Toronto that you’ll wish you knew about sooner.
Kitchen and Homeware
360 Spadina Ave.
When it comes to kitchen products and tools, Tap Phong is a diamond in the rough boasting premium quality cookware and dinnerware for unbeatable prices. Don’t believe me? The retailer is a huge supplier to many established and high-end Toronto restaurants, so you know it’s legit. From appliances, to bartending needs, to dishes and decor, you’ll find everything under the sun… even things like Electric Coconut Diggers and Sausage Stuffers.
Uncommon and Vintage Books
1267 Bloor St. W
This might be the first time you’re hearing about the Monkey’s Paw, but the store is a staple for many bookworms in Toronto. Along with uncommon books and unique 20th century printed items, this shop has the world’s first Biblio-Mat: a vending machine that dispenses vintage and antique books at random for only $2. Even if you’re not an avid reader, you’re going to want to go just for the novelty of it all.
730 Queen St. W
You’ll probably recognize the bright, graphic graffiti on the side of this Queen Street staple, but despite seeing it in passing, likely have never gone in. Here is where you’ll find hard to come by Japanese groceries and dish ware like yuzu juice, sushi and sashimi grade seafood, authentic Japanese teas, and more. They also have every ingredient you need for Japanese Hot Pots.
Unique Toronto Parafernalia
401 Richmond St. W
Located in a historic arts centre building in downtown Toronto, the Spacing Store features some of the most unique city-themed gifts including clothing, buttons, magnets, tote bags and more. However, probably the greatest treasure at the Spacing Store is their selection of prints including former municipality maps, vintages signs, neighbourhood maps, and subway maps.
Queer Gifts and Things
1450 Dundas St. W
TKVO isn’t a regular gift shop, but is rather Toronto’s very first Queer gift shop where you can find LGBTQ pharamenilia that celebrates the community and being who you are. Along with being a safe space, the shop promotes body positivity, sex-positive feminists, and general queerdom. Think patches and pins with cheeky messages, sweatshirts emblazoned with the word “queer”, as well as prints, greeting cards, candles, and more.
Homegoods made in North America
455 Parliament St.
This Cabbagetown staple is sorely overlooked by Torontonians living in other parts of the city. What makes Spruce truly unique is its effort to source the majority of its products from within North America. It’s worth poking around if you’re looking for fun vintage items like signs, and pillows, as well as YYZ prints, dish ware, and other home decor goods made by local designers and artisans. Not to mention they sell candles with hidden diamonds inside – apparently one in every 50 candles has one.
All Things Harry Potter
1273 Queen St. W
Die hard Harry Potter fans have likely visited Parkdale’s Curiosa, purveyor of extraordinary things, but for everyone else who hasn’t checked out the store, it’s worth a look. The store itself seems like something out of Diagon Alley, selling all sorts of cool things like stationary, home goods, gift cards, and vintage and antique reproductions of compasses, magnifiers and more. The store even its own replica of wands from Ollivander’s.
Traditional Portuguese Homewares
1191 Dundas St. W
Saudade in Little Portugal is a lifestyle store that rightfully celebrates Portuguese design and artisanal traditions. The two owners who are Portuguese themselves, frequently travel to the country to source an array of items only found there. Think traditional apothecary like soaps and hand creams, leather goods, jewellery, beautiful Portuguese dish ware, linens, pillow covers and more.
10 Brentcliffe Rd.
Extoggery may be one of the most underrated designer consignment stores due to its East York location, but it is a treasure trove for pre-owned designer. Notable labels include Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Lanvin, Gucci and more. While their website and social media presence may not be the best, their selection in-stores is totally worth a trip East!
Cards and Gifts
577 Queen St. W
If you’re like me, then you’ve passed this store numerous times without going in. However, once you do go inside, you won’t forget it. Outerlayer is one of the best gift shops the city has to offer with a ton of kitschy items for every Holiday and occasion. In case you need proof, the gift shop currently holds the title of Reader’s Choice 2018 in NOW Magazine. This is where you go when you have no idea what to gift someone.
Featured image: Instagram/ @casacubista
Posts you might be interested in:
This Hidden Townhouse is Where Toronto’s Most Stylish Buy their Designer Shoes
These Are the 5 Best Hidden Gem Brunch Spots in Toronto
11 Thrift Store Shopping Tips To Help You Score The Best Stuff
8 Places in Toronto Where You Can Create Custom Clothes
5 Places To Score Deals On Designer Clothes Online