Five Toronto store owners share their shopping tips and tricks

Five Toronto store owners share their shopping tips and tricks

Insider info from some of the city’s savviest shopkeeps.

Zai Rajkotwala Photograph by Daniel Neuhaus
Zai Rajkotwala

Owner of lifestyle boutique Easy Tiger

Sanko Photograph by Daniel Neuhaus

Favourite shop: “For clothes, I love Fawn. And Mjölk and Mellah for inspiration. I am determined to own furniture from Mjölk and a beautiful rug from Mellah one day.”
Hidden gem: “I absolutely love Sanko for all of its Japanese loveliness. I bought moulds there recently that turn a regular hard-boiled egg into fun animal shapes.”
Top recco: “I always recommend Hoi Bo. It’s great design, made in Toronto and located in the Distillery District.”
Gifting go-to: “This year, for my best friend’s birthday, I signed her up for Gold Apothecary’s Soak of the Month, where a different type of bath salt gets delivered to you for three of Toronto’s coldest months.”
Retail rule: “It’s all about how it feels in my hand and whether it will make friends with the objects it will be living with.”


Christina McDowell Photograph by Daniel Neuhaus
Christina McDowell

Founder and creative director of luxury resale store Clementine’s

Avenue Road

Favourite shop: “I’m a big Restoration Hardwar fan, because of its understated luxe vibe.”
Hidden gem: “Avenue Road is tucked away but so worth checking out for beautiful home decor.”
Weirdest buy: “I love my blush-coloured feather lamps from Trianon Design on King West. The shop is full of stunning, unique furniture finds from Paris.”
Top recco: “Hazelton Lanes has had a recent transformation but still feels very intimate. There’s a good variety of fashion, food and decor stores.
Gifting go-to: “I love finding perfect home decor gifts at L’Atelier.”
Retail rule: “Don’t let price or pressure to buy determine whether you go home with something. If you love it, you’ll use it.”


Nicole Manek Photograph courtesy of Life of Manek
Nicole Manek

Owner of e-boutique

Hulapopper Vintage Photograph courtesy of Hulapopper Vintage

Favourite shop: “I often hit the Talize on Dixie in Mississauga to get clothing for my three-and-a-half-year-old son, Leon. It has the best second-hand kids’ stuff for super-cheap, and it’s all like new.”
Hidden gem: “Stella Luna, the tiny vintage store on Queen West, is my favourite. I don’t know how the world doesn’t know about it. Also, Hulapopper Vintage, which is in an alley in Parkdale, is the bomb for cozy Canadiana vintage.”
Weirdest buy: “My collection of the Electric Mayhem posters by Toronto graphic artist Michael De Pippo.”
Top recco: “I always tell people who want to get a real feel for the city to do the Ossington strip to get a bit of everything. Hit Jonathan+Olivia and I Miss You, then swing up to Dundas for Penny Arcade, V-S-P and Easy Tiger. It’s a great mix of old and new.”
Gifting go-to: “I love William Ashley.”
Retail rule: “I always try to shop second-hand first.”


Trevor Larocque Photograph by Daniel Neuhaus
Trevor Larocque

Co-owner of Tiny Record Shop and president of Paper Bag Records

Ring Audio Photograph by Daniel Neuhaus

Favourite shop: “Lately, I love to pop into Good Neighbour to pick up a gift for my wife or my kids. It’s great to support another business in the east end.”
Hidden gem: “Ring Audio for vintage record players and amps. Their staff is very knowledgable and I find myself sending my customers there all the time.”
Top recco: “I send vinyl collectors to June Records on the west side and Discovery on the east side. Both shops are run by nice guys with a consistently great selection.”
Gifting go-to: “Treasure Island on the Danforth is perfect to pick up a little something for my kids. And, of course, Token, the gift shop we share our space with.”
Retail rule: “If I second-guess an item of clothing for a minute, then I’m out. But if I second-guess buying a record and leave it behind, I always end up kicking myself.”