Just like in Sweden, the sale of alcoholic beverages in Ontario is regulated by LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) and you have to go to one of its stores in order to buy something stronger (I think beer is still available in the supermarkets).
What could you want to buy in Canada? Well, here are a few suggestions:
- Ice Wine. Sweet wine made out of frozen grapes, produced in very few countries (Germany is the only other one that I know of).
- Ontario Wine
- Canadian whisky
There is usually always a very knowledgable "consultant" that will assist you with your choice.
There is one of these stores right in front of the Eaton Centre on Dundas.
Toronto is sports-crazy, hockey being the most important sport, followed by (in no specific order) Basketball, Baseball and Football. Toronto has a team in the major league in all these sports (I am not sure about football...) and at a time (some years ago), they were actually the only city with a team over .500 (don't worry if you don't know what that means) in 3 major sports: Basket, Baseball and Hockey.
For this reason, there is also big interest in sports items, mainly shirts, caps and other clothing items.
We were looking for something a bit more specific: Baby clothes and although there are many stores around, few had things for children under 3 years. After asking around a bit, we were told about this place and found that, not only it had the items we were looking for, but it also had other official jerseys, caps etc. that were cheaper than most other shops.
If you are looking for that Leaves jersey, this is a good place to start your search
What to pay: The shirts can cost as little as 10-15 CAD.
Hotsauce told me about this place, said I had to see it and she was right!! They have a machine in the back where they do the silkscreening on the clothes, you can watch them do it. Very cool stuff, very unique.
What to pay: You can drop some cash here....
Aboveground has the best prices and selection of art supplies in the city, by far. No matter what medium you work in, Aboveground is likely to have everything you need.
It is located adjacent to the Ontario College of Art and Design. It used to be across the street in The Village By The Grange, but most of the retail space was converted to condos a couple of years ago. Aboveground worked with the City of Toronto to refurbish its current location, a historic house that had been condemned and slated for demolition.
If memory serves me, I believe they also give a discount if you show an ISIC card.
What to pay: A wide range, but practically everything is a bargain at Aboveground.
Sanko is treasured by those in the know. It carries all kinds of Japanese products. It serves the grocery needs of the Japanese community, but many folks of all stripes enjoy the funky finds it has in store.
It's closed on Tuesdays.
What to buy: You can usually find lots of nifty kitschy items and I've boought a number of beautiful japanese pottery items there as well.
What to pay: Most items are less than $10. Depends what you're looking for. There are always bargains to be had at Sanko.
If stylin' eyewear is your cup of tea, or you want some specs that are simply beyond the pale, head on over to Specs & Specs.
I recently bought a pair of funky, zebra-striped retro glasses for myself at this store. Not only do they have a great selection of distinctive styles, the service was amazing. When I picked up my glasses they spent a good 20 minutes with me adjusting them to make sure the fit was absolutely perfect.
It's a fun place to try on funky frames even if you're not ready to take the plunge and look like Dame Edna's love child.
What to pay: $99-$500
At many merchants in Toronto's business district you might notice signs for a form of payment called Dexit. Dexit is short for Debit Express and it is designed for making small purchases.
Many of the people that work in this area have signed up for a Dexit tag, which they load up with $100 at a time from their bank account. When they want to pay for something at a merchant that accepts Dexit, the merchant just enters the price into the Dexit machine and the customer touches the machine with their tag to approve the withdrawal of that amount from their tag.
It's only suitable for people who shop in this area a lot, so don't sign up unless you'll be spending a lot of time here. I just thought I would do a tip in case people were wondering what it's all about.
Update: As far as I know, Dexit is no longer offered. At least, most of the retailers who offered it as a form of payment don't seem to be participating anymore.
They say you can only have two of the following: Good, Fast, or Cheap, but the exception is at the Photo Studio. That's the one time when you can have all three. This photofinishing lab/camera store is in the ground level of the building where I work and I always take my film there to be developed. It is in a little corner of the gift shop within the Holiday Inn on King and is run by the owner, who is very courteous and helpful. Because the building is also a hotel, his standard service for 35mm film is 1hour, but the great thing is that you definitely aren't paying 1hr prices and the quality of the prints is great (unlike many 1hr photos I've tried. The guy develops all of the photos himself, so he keeps an eye on the quality. You can usually get a roll of film developed for under $7. If you ask you can usually get the $5.99 Special.
Update: Photo Studio seems to have gone out of business. The hotel it is in is currently under renovations, but the store was looking a bit decrepit beforehand. For example, the I and O on neon sign out front stopped working many months ago, and so the sign has said "Photo Stud" for the longest time.
Peach Berserk is beyond description, but I'll give it a whirl. For starters, the decor is completely outrageous. The walls are painted in wild colours and the whole floor is done in a mosaic of broken dishes and things. It is located on Queen Street West in the Fashion District.
The proprietor, Kingi Carpenter, is a funky, spirited gal who could be mistaken for Cyndi Lauper. She designs all of the clothes and fabrics that Peach Berserk sells.
Even if you're not in the market for clothes, it is worth stopping by just to look at the place. Oh yeah, if you're afraid of dogs, keep an eye out because Kingi often has her very sweet and harmless but big dog in the shop.
What to buy: Peach Berserk sells a wide range of clothes, accessories and home decor items featuring Kingi's signature over-the-top colours and screenprinted designs.
In the past I have bought a blouse and hair accessories for myself there, a necktie for my Dad, and oven mits with muscle men on them for my father-in-law.
The only caveats I would give about Peack Berserk is that the items tend to be pricey and that you should pay special attention to the quality because sometimes their quality control is a little lax and the printing and sewing isn't up to snuff.
Queen's Quay Terminal is one of the bigger shopping malls in Downtown Toronto. It's located just outside teh city center on the waterfront.
You will find all kinds of shops inside like toy shops, gift shops, clothing shops and art shops. And you may also enjoy a drink in one of the cafes.
Step outside for a magnificent view over the harbour and the island.
I am not sixteen anymore and my figure ain’t what it used to be, as they say. I can’t just go into a store, flip through the racks and find a perfect fit, right off the bat. But when I’m in Toronto, visiting my mother (and usually pressed for time), the place I head for is Winners.
Winners is a bargain outlet for designer clothing with several branches in Toronto. Department stores in North America tend to be overwhelming. There are so many floors, so many escalators and so much going on, you sometimes end up buying nothing because there is just too much.
Winners, in that respect, is a much more focused kind of place. All the departments are on one floor, which makes shopping there much more manageable. That is especially good when you’re in a hurry (like when your husband is waiting outside, or your flight leaves in a few hours).
My favorite is the clearance racks, although almost everything in the store is marked down. While the prices are not dirt cheap, they are quite reasonable, and a red sticker on the tag indicates a further reduction. For example, a pair of jeans originally sold for $48 was marked down to $29 and I bought them for $16. And remember, we are talking about Canadian dollars.
Helpful Hint: Most women don’t look at the “petite” racks on the assumption that they could not possibly fit into anything remotely “petite.” Well, that is a mistake. You can be fat as a horse and petite sizes will fit you perfectly. They are cut to fit NORMAL women. If you have not been blessed with that long-legged, long-armed, lanky look, and find that you have to take up every pair of pants you buy, try on a pair of petites. No alterations needed.
O! Sam The Record Man….
Each time I come down here I wonder if you can last forever.
Yes there really was a Sam!
Sam Siderman who started this chain as a part of the family’s radio store in 1936.
They moved to the Yonge St. location in 1961, put up the now famous double neon record sign and have been a major Toronto landmark ever since.
I can’t remember the whole story but I do know that there was a bankruptcy issue in 2001 followed by big… BIG squawking here in the city about the
threatened closure of this Toronto institution and reopened in 2002.
What to buy: Uhhhhhhhh Records?
For those born after 1988… a record is kind of like a CD. Just a little bigger.
What to pay: 9.99 and up.
GrassRoots sells all manner of things related to sustainable living. Here are just a few to peak your interest:
-organic cotton bedlinens and towels
-natural and eco-friendly cleaning products
-organic cotton and hemp clothing and accessories
-recycled paper products
-activist stickers and buttons galore
-personal care products
GrassRoots has two locations. One is in the Annex neighbourhood and the other is on the Danforth in Carrot Common.
If you bring in your own empty containers for cleaning and personal care products, GrassRoots will refill them. This is a great way to divert a lot of junk from landfills. They also have a huge variety of books on many different environmental and sustainable living issues.
What to pay: As much or as little as you want. You can get a button for fifty cents or spend hundreds of dollars on an organic bedding set.
I like to buy gifts for all my children and grandchildren that are made locally. So when I happened on this shop, I went wild.
Their website says:
"Quality Canadian made gifts and souvenirs. Featuring unique clothing, crafts, decor, jewellery, maple syrup and beautifully packaged Canadian specialty foods. Our travel videos of Toronto and Canada in PAL, secam and VHS formats. Toronto's scenic slides and a Toronto CD Rom make excellent gifts, souvenirs and visit planners. We specialize in memorable gifts for conventions, special events and corporate functions and offer gift wrapping and delivery service worldwide."
What to buy: I bought T-shirts (childrens and adults) ($18-$19 @ CD)
golf shirts ($24.50 CD)
maple sugar, maple syrup, salmon and barrettes and earrings. ($10-15 @ CD)
Some of the maple sugar I ate myself.
What to pay: I spent $274.50 CD ($190 US), and I got gifts for 15 people.
Because I was completely unable to hook up my computer to get email from the Toronto Hilton, and their business center wasn't able to help me, I decided to go elsewhere. From talking to other convention goers, I found that the Royal York (which also had some folks staying there) had a business center that allowed you to hook up to the internet for a fee.
What to buy: I think technically I probably shouldn't have been using the business center since I wasn't a hotel guest, but I did anyway.
It's probably easier to connect to a United States ISP now then it was then.
What to pay: I paid $10 CDN and got to be on the internet for about a half hour IIRC. It was $5 for 15 or 20 minutes.
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