When All Else Fails, Active Surplus

I found this cute little Noguchi-style, table lamp at a garage sale for $2 but when I got it home I realized it was missing one of its little ball feet. Now what?

Whenever I’m faced with an impossible fix like this, there’s only one place I go, Toronto’s Active Surplus (347 Queen Street West, upstairs). I’ve always wanted to blog about this secret gem and my would-be Noguchi — actually vintage IKEA — gave me a perfect opportunity.

Active is one of those head-scratching, retail mysteries. How does a store that sells bits and bobs worth 25¢ and 50¢ each make the rent on one of the city’s priciest retail strips? I’m just glad they do ’cause Active is a godsend when you’re searching for that impossible little part. Clips, balls, rings, caps, plugs, dowels, wood blocks, plastic tubing, acrylic off-cuts, Active is like the world’s biggest junk box, fish around and with a bit of luck you’ll find what you need to MacGyver your project.

Active provided a few options for my lamp but the best by far were these little rubber feet, pre-drilled and priced at just 25¢ each. The shape’s a bit odd but I sort of like them and they look like they were made for the lamp. When all else fails, get Active.


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Saturday, September 1, 2012 by Chris
This post was written by - who has written 865 posts on styleNorth.

8 Comments For This Post

  1. Kj@letsgoflyakite Says:

    I have always wondered about that spot, I pass by it all of the time. Great post, and thanks for taking us inside. The lamp looks great, nice find.

  2. shezcomeundone Says:

    I remember when their life size gorilla mascot went missing. I think it made the papers.
    I wouldn’t worry about those dudes making ends meet, they’re tough sells and if you pay .50 cents for something, they paid a fraction of a cent for it. Nice chaps tho’.
    Key there is if you find something niche or rare, grab it cause they may not have it in ever again. Once my go-to source for beakers and pipettes now I pay through-the-nose at Efston Science equip.

  3. Raina @ If the Lamp Shade Fits Says:

    That’s a whole lot of awesome for $3 total.

  4. Sue Says:

    SPEAKING OF HARD TO FIND- I’m looking for a mattress cover, preferrably waterproof. Any suggestions? Thanks…

  5. Chris Says:

    Sue, I have it on good authority that Wal-Mart is actually the place to go for mattress protectors.

  6. Lin Says:


    Dollarama is mattress-cover heaven.


  7. Pmac Says:

    Check out the Shoppers Drug Mart HomeHealthCare store at Bathurst and Lawrence. I bought waterproof mattress covers for my cottage beds. I think you can also order online:)

  8. Says:

    Jealous of your awesome slide find (and the slide viewer is too awesome!)I have a modern handheld slide viewer and I'm always on the lookout for vintage slides.

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