Earlier this week, I went once again in search of Toronto’s most unique, appealing and desirable stores. Now as we all know, Queen St. is one of those places where you can find anything and everything. Whether its fashionable clothing, eye-catching homemade jewelry, professionally brewed beer or the high market cosmetic ranges…this stretch of Downtown has it all.
But as Toronto becomes more modernized by the day, I find that the city is at risk of loosing its character and its much-loved architectural links to the past. I remember as a young child back home in Ireland, there were several retail stores that when you entered their doors, you were greeted by a whole new world inside. The proprietors still used the old-fashioned lead scales and sometimes school desks with inkwells from bygone days, were used for product display purposes. Despite necessity being the reason for this, rather than fashion…it always made me feel like this is what a store should aim to be.
And finally I have found the ultimate example of this style, hidden right here, in the big city. At 253 Queen St W, you will find a building, whose dark painted exterior, Greek pillared entrance and wide-span windows will catch your eye immediately. As I walked through its period-style wooden doors, I was warmly welcomed into the treasure trove that is Lavish & Squalor.
And this is where your adventure begins. With stunning exposed brick walls, and rustic wooden beams and support pillars, I felt like I had been transported back in time to a Wild West saloon. From the low, warm lighting to the fantastic antique furniture and service counters, I quickly forgot about the bustling city that lay beyond its doors.
But what about what’s on sale? From the beautiful, handmade necklaces that would make anyone’s eyes twinkle to the woolen shawls and stylish jackets that would make you the envy of all your friends. From the natural cosmetic products for both men and women (homemade in Canada) to the stunning glassware, cutlery and ornaments that would give your home that much-needed lift. It has it all.
As a person who plans to build their own house at some point, this store gave me wonderful ideas for not only decorating it, but the character I aim to achieve. I went in looking to purchase a gift and came out with a newfound creative outlook. But not only does this gem sell apparel gifts for all, but it has on display a wide range of food products and treats that are enjoyed by all. Teas, sweets, honeys, jams, ginger beer and tonic, as well as highly sought-after spices and flavorings, are only a small glimpse into what is on offer in the food-beverage department.
But, in all honesty, what topped the whole experience off for me was something that lay at the rear of the shop. As I sailed through the different spaces filled with unique gifts and clothing, and ran my fingers along the neat collection of shelved literature, I started to get the caffeine urge.
But how was I going to get a coffee fix in here? Well, I quickly took that statement back. For as I traveled to the back of the store; following the familiar smell of coffee beans and brewing whistles, I soon realized Lavish & Squalor has its own in-store espresso bar. And believe me…its damn good coffee. With an extensive range of coffee and hot tea choices, as well as a selection of baked goods, this store is the reason why I still believe in creativity and retail progression.
I have many friends; both who enjoy retail therapy and the instant pleasure of coffee…so this is the perfect combination of both. And even if you have that partner, spouse, family member or friend who doesn’t like shopping, all you need to do is park them up at the coffee bar with a nice brew in their hand, as you explore the treasures that surround you. With friendly staff, helpful baristas, affordable prices and an unforgettable array of locally sourced products (which you will never find in the big-name chains), this is a place I will come back to, time and time again.
With my family coming to visit me from the Emerald Isle in May, what better place to show them than the delights of Lavish & Squalor.
The premises describes itself as “A Shop where Nostalgia meets Today’s Lifestyle,” and in truth, I couldn’t put it better myself. So get down now and see what all the buzz is about!!! I’m sure you will love it, just as much as I do.
For more information on the store and its range of products, please click HERE.
Opening Hours are as follows:
Mon to Wed: 11am-7:30pm