Holy Cow brings globe-trotter style to Leslieville
Exotic decor and specialty gift boutique Holy Cow is the latest project for restaurateur Aristedes Pasparakis and womenswear designer Alexia von Beck. The long-time partners, globetrotters and treasure hunters opened the shop three months ago, filling it with eclectic art, furniture, jewellery and household items from north Africa and Asia.
The store is packed with colourful items—soft towels from Istanbul ($59–$99), leather slippers from Morocco ($50), teak statues from Burma ($1,800) and custom-designed marble tabletops ($1,250–$2,950)—giving shoppers the feeling of browsing a crowded marketplace. It’s a fitting addition to the Leslieville neighbourhood, which is booming with other independent shops like Ethel and Winkel, Eye Spy and Six Shooter. “It’s hard to describe exactly what we sell,” says von Beck, who also owns an eponymous boutique in Rosedale. “We give people a little piece of the entire world.” Many of the items are purchased during the couple’s travels, and von Beck’s eye for fanciful fabrics and colour is evident.
Holy Cow is a spectacular source of unusual gifts and imported luxuries: Whimsical handmade paper stars from India ($10–$16), traditionally used to celebrate Diwali, are piled high in the window, while treats like Turkish apple tea ($5) and bags of Moroccan candies ($3) clutter the counter. Larger-than-life works of art depicting sumo wrestlers ($1,900) adorn the walls, and impressive life-sized, hand-painted animals are scattered throughout the store.
While running a boutique might seem like an odd move for Pasparakis, a cookbook author and former engineering professor who has owned and consulted on a string of Greek restaurants in Vancouver and Toronto in the past 20 years (Ouzeri, the recently shuttered Lambros), but he insists the shift from restaurants to retail was natural: “There was no switch from one career to another. Design, colour and travel have always been important in my work.”
Holy Cow, 1100 Queen St. E. (at Brooklyn Ave.), 416-778-6555.
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18 thoughts on “Holy Cow brings globe-trotter style to Leslieville”
Hey, Holy Cow is actually in the space where Eye Spy used to be, and Six Shooter has moved on to Queen West.
I find it interesting that you reference Eye Spy and Six Shooter Records in the article….
Eye Spy has left, the space they had is now the home of Holy Cow. Also, Six Shooter moved into a more traditional ‘office space’ in the Queen West area.
Sorry I had to do some research for you, but if you want to use stores as an example, it might be best to ensure they still exist. A little research can go a far way….
Holy Cow is more like Holy Crap. The store is not full of “spectacular unusual gifts” but rather weird and generally ugly dust-collectors. I would much rather have Eye Spy back …
Thanks. The error has been corrected.
Teak from Burma – please don’t buy it – it only supports the tyrannical dictatorship.
I agree with Alyssa – Hol-lotta Crap! I give them another 6 months.
Agreed on the “Holy Crap” take. Eye Spy was a fantastic gift shop which always came in handy at this time of year. Holy Cow, on other hand, offers up old pig’s troughs and wooden ducks for literally HUNDREDS of dollars. The wooden horse heads were, if I remember, in the THOUSANDS of dollars. Just ridiculous for this junk.
What disgusting nasty comments from Alyssa, Roger, Laura. I think Holy Cow is an unbelievable amazing spot in this diverse city. If any of you have ever travelled outside of Toronto, you could see how unique and exquisite this store is. I bought some of the metal animals for my backyard when the store first opened in the summer and I got compliments constantly. These animals were NOT literally hundreds of dollars!! I find it so ethnocentric that these comments are being made, the stuff they are bringing in is art! not junk! Thank you Holy Cow for giving our city some much needed colour and diversity!!
How unfortunate that some people find other cultures offerings, “weird and ugly dust-collectors”.
I live in Leslieville and have been in Holy Cow on more than occasion. Personally I find the shop delightful and a great addition to the neighborhood.
Ive been to Holy Cow and I dont think the picture featured here does it justice. It’s the most beautiful store Ive ever been to in this city. There is NOTHING like this in Toronto, and it brings life to Leslieville. I recently bought some towels there from Turkey for my girlfriend and she LOVED THEM! Cant wait to go back and see what else the owners have brought in! Thankyou HOLY COW!
I love this store!!!! It has everything I could ever want in christmas decorations, and ive been around the world and have never come across such a delightful little store as I have in my own backyard. I agree with sebastian as the photos do not do it justice, and I dont understand why people would talk so badly about a little slice of heaven such as this. Try it out for yourself and you will see why its such a jewel in my eyes.
Eye Spy had all the charm of a hospital gift shop.
Two regrettable things about this posting 1)the photograph. I agree with Alyssa above that it (the photo) does not do the store justice and, 2) although I think consumer feedback is valuable and useful, some of the remarks above are hurtful and, in the opinion of many people (some of them also above) untrue. I expect the posters in question have not travelled much beyond the confines of their trailer parks and it seems to me thay haven’t been inside this store. The cultural blinders they wear are scary for us all and hopefully, oneday, they will take them off to see the rich colour, variety and stories woven into the fabric of Toronto.
To the catty little eyespy fan club – that store still operates, go there and shut up. The people of Holy Cow have put their heart and soul into trying to do something different. Eyespy didnt make it in that location, thats unfortunate. The nice thing is that boring broke yuppies dont have to visit Holy Cow if they dont want to – stick to Eyespy and Ikea.
As someone who has travelled a lot, I can tell you the stuff in Holy Cow really is special and high quality. A lot of shops just travel to far off places and buy what’s readily available in the market. What Holy Cow has done is work with the craftspeople to make unique and usually much higher quality items. I’m not much of a shopper and am usually bored by the stores selling ethic items (because they all have the same stuff) but I was thrilled to discover Holy Cow yesterday when I was exploring Leslieville.
the owner of this store, the restaurateur-cum-retailer is an extremely unkind person with a terrible temper mistreating those around him. I highly recommend that people boycott this store, in spite of the lovely things in it –
hello sir how are you ?
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