When it comes to vintage and antique shops, all the standard rules about market competition fly out the window—more is merrier because a grouping of retailers creates a shopping destination. And since no two dealers have the same inventory, they’re not directly competing with each other.
Toronto is blessed with lots of what I call vintage “strolls,” where three, four or more similarly targeted retailers have joined forces. Toronto’s Queen Street East in Leslieville is a prime example with mid-century modern shops galore; the antique strip on Queen West at Roncesvalles is another popular destination.
Yesterday, Mike and I took a swing along the Dundas West strip in the heart of the Junction neighbourhood where gentrification is the word of the day.
We love mooching along Dundas West because, generally speaking, the prices range from fair to bargain and the architecture of the streetscape has a trapped-in-time quality that summons depression-era Toronto.
Starting in the east, Post & Beam Reclamation (above, 2869 Dundas St. W., 416.913.4243) features an ever-changing selection of architectural salvage materials from iron gates, to mantles, windows, marble details and the like. Owner Douglas Killaly is friendly and engaging, happy to shoot the breeze and fill you in on the story behind this or that item. Killaly has begun carrying the odd piece of bona fide furniture, so you really never know what you’ll find at Post & Beam.
Directly across the street from P&B is strip newcomer Smash (2880 Dundas St. W., 416.762.3113), a 4,000-square foot vintage shop-cum-gallery run by Killaly’s former partner, Paul Mercer. Gregarious and laid-back, Mercer happily describes his store as “quirky” with stock ranging from vintage Eames and Bertoia-style chairs (above) to taxidermy trophies and a large-scale Mao Zedong wall hanging. Definitely worth exploring.
A few doors west is Cornerstone (2886 Dundas St. W., 416.767.8170), the granddaddy of Junction décor stores. Cornerstone’s days as an antique and vintage storehouse are long gone; today the 18,000-square foot showroom features an eclectic array of mostly new furnishings and accessories. The tufted chaise pictured here had a slight mark on the leather and was sale priced at just $400, an undeniable bargain.
Further along is Forever Interiors (2903 Dundas St. W., 416.291.2001) a vintage shop where Mike and I scored these gorgeous, plaster, faux-bamboo lamps (below). Owner Martin Scott has since shifted his focus to building new furniture out of reclaimed wood—his cabinets and tables made from old doors are shabby chic personified.
A few blocks west is the tiny-perfect High Park Antiques (342 High Park Ave., 416.534.3833), with a stock that veers from Victorian to Art Deco to 50s kitsch. Worth a peek.
At the end of your stroll, stop in at Old Fashioned Restoration (3068 Dundas St. W., 416 767.6989) where knowledgeable owner Emanuel Calleja specializes in the finer things, reasonably priced. Last week he was showcasing a magnificent 18th century bedroom suite with superb marquettery that was featured on the Antiques Roadshow. This lovely Dior table setting for two, sporting fanciful cheetahs and palm trees, was priced at $125 and you could probably strike a deal if you’re polite.
Across from street is the final stop on our stroll, Eclectic Revival Antique Lighting (3075 Dundas St. W., 416.766.5500), a riot of fine vintage and antique lamps and lighting from Edwardian to Art Deco and beyond. The shop also takes on restoration and repair work.