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Staff Picks: 10 Stores for Unique Gifts

Whether you’re looking for gag gifts or one-of-a kind collectors pieces, these Toronto stores offer creative solutions for the weary holiday shopper.

The Drake Hotel General Store features a bevy of novel products (photo by Connie Tsang)

Bergo Designs
One of the showcase retailers in the Distillery Historic District, Bergo is a hub for the latest and greatest industrial design products—both functional and decorative—for the home, by designers such as Georg Jensen, Alessi, Brothers Dressler and more. 55 Mill St., 416-861-1821.

Blue Banana Market
This eclectic two-storey space in the Kensington Market neighbourhood features a mix of mass-market and artisan-made wares by more than 200 craftspeople and small retailers. You’re not likely to go home empty-handed—everything from area rugs to gourmet food products to musical instruments is available. 250 Augusta Ave., 416-594-6600.

Blending modern and traditional styles, John Booth and Arounna Khounnoraj’s design boutique features their expertly crafted textiles—like bags, pillows and tea towels—wood pieces and wall art, all of which emphasize natural materials. 798 Dundas St. W., 416-203-2549.

Drake Hotel General Store
A re-imagined version of a hotel gift shop, this general store sells contemporary takes on playful and nostalgic items—think fake moustaches, DIY nesting dolls, retro-styled all-sorts jars and many other quirky items. 1144 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042; 1011 Yonge St., 416-966-0553; 82 Bathurst St., 416-703-6518.

The Guild Shop
Since 1932 this Yorkville gallery-boutique has trafficked in the finest art and jewellery handcrafted by Canadian artists. It’s also the city’s oldest retailer of Inuit and Native art, with numerous carvings, prints and tapestries from communities in Canada’s north. 118 Cumberland St., 416-921-1721.

Lomography Store
The Austrian camera manufacturer’s retail boutique is a haven for anyone who’s tired of digital imaging’s calculated perfection. Pick up popular analogue cameras like the Diana and Holga—the photographer in your life will love experimenting to produce spontaneous, dreamlike shots. 536 Queen St. W., 647-352-6700.

Made You Look
Gentrifying—but still appealingly arty—Parkdale is home to this shop one-of-a-kind and handcrafted jewellery. Two Made You Look locations are basically across the street from one another, and each specializes in different styles: the north-side store is for “serious” jewellery and custom pieces, while the south-side features fun, fashion-forward designs and ready-to-wear items. 1338 Queen St. W., 416-463-2136; 1273 Queen St. W., 416-516-9595.

Magic Pony
Star Wars-themed Moleskine journals, cartoon figurines, funky accessories and original art are among the items stocked by Magic Pony, which mixes pop culture touchstones with modern art and design to offer a unique shopping experience. 680 Queen St. W., 416-861-1684.

You’ll find an extensive selection of oddities and trinkets at Rolo’s Yorkville store. Also known as the “Realm Of Ludicrous Objects,” it’s unsurprising that the stock ranges from Hello Kitty USB drives to snowman saltshakers. 24 Bellair St., 416-920-0100.

Studio Brillantine
Award-winning design products mingle with cool novelty items at Studio Brillantine. The stock skews toward products that balance creativity (and a bit of humour) with everyday functionality by the likes of Alessi, Philippe Starck and others. 1518 Queen St. W., 416-536-6521.

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