When I was in Northumberland County to tour Sheree and Clive’s colourful country place, I stopped into nearby Warkworth where I was surprised to find the recently opened Toyls of Labur, a very downtown sort of emporium specializing in “goods manufactured by longstanding firms.”
The store’s merchandise is united by quality and tradition rather than by utility; at Toyls of Labur you’ll find everything from vases and cushions to housewares, grooming tools and fashion accessories. All the goods come from firms that have been in business for at least three generations — Germany’s Johann Maria Farina gegenüber, maker of Original Eau de Cologne, stretches all the way back to 1709 and it’s the kind of specialty product you’d have to search far and wide to find in Canada.
“Is Warkworth ready for Alvar Alto?” I asked shop co-owner Thomas Hirschmann while admiring the architect/designer’s famous Finlandia vase. “Sure it is,” replied Hirschmann. “At least we hope it is.”
Hirschmann stressed that he and his wife, chief buyer Sarah Roberts, will focus as much on web sales as on main street foot traffic. By city standards the shop’s prices are perfectly in line and the quoted shipping rates are extremely reasonable.
Without disparaging any of the other gift shops on Warkworth’s main street, I have to say I found Toyls of Labur’s eclectic inventory extremely tempting. There were several items — the aforementioned eau de cologne, a badger and horsehair lather brush, a braided belt — that I would have happily taken home if impulse buying was still in my budget (which it’s not!). Hopefully for Hirschmann and Roberts, the summer will bring visitors a little more flush with cash, friends and family of all the city folks who have moved into the area seeking country quiet. Toyls of Labur brings downtown options to small town Ontario.