Just over a week ago we had the opportunity to visit one of Toronto’s coolest stores, talk to its owner Joel Reilly and finally get the scoop on Community 54.
Originating out of New York’s Lower East Side, Community 54 isn’t really like any other store we’ve visited. Conceptually, the store has been deemed a Nostalgia Boutique -literally a boutique of things time forgotten.
When you enter the store, the right side is banked with vintage arcade games, reminiscent of the times when our jeans sagged filled with quarters just looking to kill an afternoon. The rest of the store is beautifully curated, with forgotten gems and drool worthy sportswear and streetwear pieces.
Community 54 carries vintage clothing, but it’s not your typical vintage store. The selection of vintage clothing has all been curated. That means that unlike other stores where you have to dig to find that killer vintage Levi’s piece, Community 54 has all of it’s shelves stocked with covetable hard to find items.
What we loved about Community 54 is their outlook on how to do retail right. “ We call ourselves community for a reason” Joel tells us, “We support local brands… We have about 15 local brands from the Parkdale West Queen West area… and our philosophy is: If you don’t support a movement, it will never move. If you don’t support some of these young guys, and sell some of their goods, they will never have the funds to continue to grow their business”.
Community 54 backs up its claims as they stock the shelves with local clothing, local jewellery, local art and even some local furniture that the clothes are displayed on “Everything in the store is for sale” saysJoel.
Not only do they sell local goods, but they make them as well. “We have our own Community 54 Label… and we do lots of exclusive stuff in limited runs of 54…That coincides with the name of the store and just keeps things limited.” Joel tells us, “The goal is that if someone comes and they make their way out here to Parkdale, they are going to leave with something that no one else in the city has.”
The Community 54 private label has been getting some big recognition, working with key brands including Members Only, Starter, Mitchell and Ness, Dickies. From a retail standpoint they bring in exclusive brands like, Uniqlo, Japanese northface, 9five, Mister, Danner hiking boots.
This store is such a gem, what we really loved about our visit was that the name of the store actually represents what they are doing. Community 54 really is just that… a Community. They have an art space in the back that helps local artists showcase their graffiti legally, and allows artists from New York to see Canadian talent and vice versa.
Next time you are in the Parkdale area, go check out Community 54 and take a peak at a retail store that is actually doing more then just selling clothes.
Take a peak at the pics from our trip!