By ANA TAVEIRA & STEPHANIE YOUNG
What is a Toronto gift? In a city this diverse, it could be anything and there’s a Toronto gift shop to cater to any taste. Finding that perfect item can be a challenge, so we’ve compiled this list of Toronto gift shops that will take the guesswork out of your shopping experience. With their precisely curated stock of unique and amazing housewares, jewellery, toys, stationery and more, these Toronto gift shops will help you bring home the perfect present every time.
BEST TORONTO GIFT SHOP FOR AFFORDABLE VISUALS
You needn’t break the bank to delve into Toronto’s vibrant art market. Known for offering a no-pressure, non-elitist browsing experience, Art Interiors features hundreds of paintings, photographs, prints and more by emerging Canadian creators, priced between $25 and $6,500. Pre-Christmas, check out the gallery’s annual Festival of Smalls, which highlights smaller pieces by 50-plus artists for no more than $250.
BEST TORONTO GIFT SHOP FOR COOL DESIGN PIECES
Owned by interior designer Robyn Berman, this Toronto gift shop in the houses a huge selection of industrial design products from top international brands. Looking for a posh watch? There are many by the likes of Frank Gehry and Philippe Starck. Or perhaps you’re in the market for some chic cookware from Alessi? You’ll find it here. At the higher end of the price scale are Bergo’s range of home furnishings and even designer fireplaces.
BEST TORONTO GIFT SHOP FOR VINTAGE CURIOSITIES
BLACKBIRD VINTAGE FINDS
The weathered architecture of the Distillery Historic District is perfect for this shop, which is stacked to the rafters with antique and vintage-inspired items that are sure to be conversation starters in any home. Globes from the 1930s share shelf space with salvaged door handle wine stoppers and old-school chemistry beakers that can easily transform into a modish vase for a brace of posies. Among the more contemporary stock: handmade shea butter soaps, kaleidoscope necklaces, natural beeswax crayons and much more. Also in the Distillery, Blackbird Tea Shop offers lovely loose-leaf tea medleys and chic accessories.
BEST TORONTO GIFT SHOP FOR VARIETY
BLUE BANANA MARKET
In the heart of Kensington Market sits this two-level Toronto gift shop featuring one-of-a-kind products from more than 200 artists, artisans and importers. The prices run the gamut from cheap to dear, and the knowledgeable staff ensure you’ll find something for any occasion. Choose from the vast assemblage of home accessories, art pieces, vintage goods, toys, stationery and much more.
BEST TORONTO GIFT SHOP FOR SLICK HOUSEWARES
Located near the Art Gallery of Ontario (which has its own great gift shop) and OCAD University, this minimalist nook traffics in high-quality goods—home decor, entertainment products, office supplies—with distinct cultural aesthetics from Asia, Europe and North America. We recommend the trove of unique Japanese housewares, including evocative clocks, bag hangers and lamps.
BEST TORONTO GIFT SHOP FOR CANADIANA ITEMS
DRAKE GENERAL STORE
The store associated with the trendy Drake Hotel takes the idea of the classic hotel gift shop, and turns it on its head. The curators behind this hip trio of boutiques deliver an eclectic mix of utility and kitsch, from thermal travel flasks to nudie glassware. There’s also a fantastic selection of Canadiana products, including retro CBC Radio bags, Mountie cocktail napkins and mason jars etched with the map of Canada. Prices here cover a huge range, but deals can always be found.
BEST TORONTO GIFT SHOP FOR DARLING HOSTESS PRESENTS
EVEN AND ODD
Winnie Yip and Carmen Tsang’s Corktown shop boasts an array of whimsical everyday items sourced from around the globe and here at home. Lining the shelves are unique little knickknacks like handmade forest-animal holiday ornaments and dainty floral-print coin purses. Accessories for dining and drinking are similarly precious: check out serving platters made from salvaged apple wood and recycled wine bottles.
• Even and Odd, 356 Queen St. East, 647-748-3800; shop.evenandodd.ca
• Map and reviews
BEST TORONTO GIFT SHOP FOR FOODIE-FRIENDLY FINDS
This well curated Kensington Market boutique is a combination cookbook store and cheeky kitchen emporium. After perusing the stock of high-quality culinary tomes (and magazines, including Lucky Peach, Fire and Knives and more) why not pick up, say, some Italian-made gold cutlery for the host with the most? Or, for the eager new chef in your life, spy the “Splendiferous Array of Culinary Tools” print, which provides helpful hints about choosing the right tool for every job in the kitchen.
BEST TORONTO GIFT SHOP FOR LUXURY BEAUTY PRODUCTS
JACOB & SEBASTIAN
A trip to this Queen West boutique that specializes in luxurious bath, body and beauty products offers endless indulgence for the senses. Inside the serene space you’ll find a wide range of exclusive lines, including Tata Harper Organic Skincare, Cup Cake bath bombs, ironically named scent maker I Hate Perfume and many others.
BEST TORONTO GIFT SHOP FOR CARDS AND STATIONERY
Although this cozy Little Italy outpost stocks everything from bath products to housewares to kids’ toys, it’s particularly notable for its creative and colorful greeting cards, stationery and journals, as well as affordable, locally crafted jewellery.
BEST TORONTO GIFT SHOP FOR THE DOWNRIGHT WEIRD
If your tastes tend toward the wackier side of things, you won’t want to miss an opportunity to visit this “realm of ludicrous objects.” An oasis of the unconventional in the midst of demure Yorkville, the shop is stuffed with offbeat interpretations of jewellery, watches, toys, bags, kitchen accessories and more, plus even zanier novelties like bacon-flavored air freshener and anime eyeglasses.
BEST TORONTO GIFT SHOP FOR QUIRKY NOVELTIES
You’ll understand Studio Brillantine’s unique appeal as soon as you walk into its funky Parkdale space. A sizeable selection of quirky products line every wall without particular order or logic—which, of course, makes searching for that perfect gift all the more interesting. Look closely and you find all manner of colourful housewares, chic dining accessories, items for the home office and even fun figurines featuring the likes of Tintin and Godzilla.
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