Toronto has always been a city of neighbourhoods, distinct enclaves offering everything from unique architecture and vibrant parks, to diverse dining options, excellent shopping, art galleries and more. One neighbourhood currently gaining acclaim for being a one-stop shop for cool local boutiques is Rosedale. A spate of retailers – focusing on everything from luxury fashion to cannabis — have recently opened their doors and more are likely to follow.
A quick stroll along this stretch of Yonge Street and you’ll find unique items at Tuck Shop Trading Co., adorable gifts for kids at MacPherson Toy House, the most beautiful housewares at Hopson Grace and Artifacts Lifestyle, the top beauty and skincare products at Gee Beauty, and tons of fashion finds at Clementine’s, Narwhal, and Augustina to name a few. James Perse is the newest boutique to join the neighbourhood, replacing WANT Apothecary.
As for the reason why, a lot of that comes down to the welcoming nature of the local residents and the neighbouring business owners.
“Cool concepts attract other unique concepts; it’s a domino effect,” explains Drummond Munro, co-founder and chief brand officer at cannabis store, Superette. He adds that the area once had a false reputation of being a boring neighbourhood lacking culture or interesting businesses, which he notes is wholly untrue. “There has been a significant shift in that perception the last few years, and we see that with the type of businesses that are opening and choosing to locate here.”
Amy Pearson, founder and owner of designer lingerie shop, Stole my Heart adds that in addition to Rosedale welcoming the store with open arms, there is also a sense of community that grows with each new business that comes on the scene.
“When you are looking to open a new shop you want to go where there are already shops around that have similar clientele,” she says. “We also personally loved all the other shops that were in the neighbourhood so knew that we would be in great company!”
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Munro seconds the sense of community Rosedale has fostered. “There are a fair number of independent businesses started by people from the neighbourhood, which ultimately creates a strong community sense.”
Another reason Rosedale is a hub for cool shopping opportunities can be traced further back. Gillian Piltz, co-owner of fashion boutique Thursdays, notes that Yonge Street in the Rosedale area has always been an eclectic street when it comes to independent shops.
“Many aspects of this neighbourhood grew separate and unaffected by the many large chain stores that set up in other neighbourhoods,” she explains. “Unfortunately, as large chain stores enter a neighbourhood it quickly loses its cache and charm. The Rosedale neighbourhood remains one of the few jewels of the city.”
When it comes to how the neighbourhood’s shops have been affected by the pandemic, it’s obviously a challenge, but as Pearson notes, the community has really rallied around the local shops.
“We had clients shopping curbside and ordering online since the first lockdown. When the second lockdown happened our clients realized it was up to them to really make sure we would still be here after this pandemic is over,” she says.
Munro also cites the local business improvement area (BIA), Rosedale Main Street, as doing a great a job of showcasing the businesses in the neighbourhood on social media, which in turn attracts more business – even if that business has to currently be conducted via curbside pickup and online shopping.