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Great Places to Shop in Toronto
I have lived in Toronto now for the past 25 years. As Canada's largest city, Toronto is full of many cozy colourful ethnic neighborhoods, and more places to shop than you can imagine, so here are 5 great places to shop in Toronto. This list, of course, is totally subjective--they are places I go to regularly. Some of them are for bargain hunters and some of them are more upscale.
Honest Ed's is a world famous discount shopping emporium and Toronto landmark. Founded by the late Ed Mirvish in 1948, it cuts a colorful presence on a huge downtown Toronto block at Bloor and Bathurst Street and lights up the area with it's 23,000 little lights and huge movie theater marquee. On the marquee are some tacky slogans that Ed once wrote for his newspaper ads. "Come in and get lost!" and "Only the floors are crooked!" "Honest Ed is nuts but look at all the cashew save".
You can buy just about anything at Honest Ed's, and I mean anything: housewares, knickknacks underwear, and alarm clocks to name just a few things. As a university student, my friends and I would head there to get items for our dorm rooms, whether it be a cheap lamp or dishes and cutlery. I think everyone had plastic cups and plates from Honest Ed's
Meanwhile, a plethora of celebrity posters line the walls of Honest Ed's. These are the entertainment legends that Ed Mirvish met while he was alive. Not content with a discount store, Ed became a Toronto entrepreneurial legend and also ventured into show business bringing many shows to theaters in Toronto and London England.
St Lawrence Market
St. Lawrence Market, located on Front Street in downtown Toronto right at the lake shore, is a place of markets, merchants and farmers. So you'll find some of the same kinds of things as you would in a farmer's market--great deals on fruits and vegetables and you'll find other types of vendors. For example you can get fresh fish, meat and poultry. Or you could buy specialty coffee or chocolate sold in bulk, or Manuka honey from New Zealand, or second hand books for $1 a piece or cooking appliances or even accessories.
When I worked at George Brown College up the street, I would pop in for lunch for a cheap schnitzel on a bun or a smoked meat sandwich in the food court. St. Lawrence Market is truly one of the great places to shop in Toronto.
Chinatown is another favorite place of mine to shop in Toronto. It goes without saying that there are a lot of great restaurants there where the food is great and the prices are reasonable.
Toronto also has one of the world's largest Chinatowns,where you can pick up some bargains from import shops scattered along Spadina Avenue and in Kensington Market. I just bought a laptop case there for my 17 " laptop for $30. Also you will find electronics vendors in Computer Alley which runs along college just west of Spadina where you can buy some reasonably good no-name parts for your computer.
You can also buy cheap Chinese greens from the fruit and vegetable stands, or medicinal herbs from narrow packed little shops and tucked away between the luggage stores and Chinese restaurants or even hats (a throwback earlier era of the area when Spadina Avenue was known as the garment district). Perhaps you'd like cheap sun glasses or or special bowls and spoons for eating your won ton soup. You can find these in the shops scattered along Spadina and Dundas.
Once upon a time ago, Yorkville Avenue was the home of Toronto hippies. Since then, the downtown area went upscale, and many million dollar condos replaced the old Victorian houses on the street and on the surrounding side streets,. So the shopping and the restaurants in the area are fairly pricey. But if you want designer fashions Prada, Hermes and Gucci, to name a few) , then Yorkville is the place for you.The area is often compared to New York's Fifth Avenue and Rodeo Drive , Los Angeles, and Magnificent Mile in Chicago. And if you're sipping something tall and cold in one of the cafe's or bistros, you may just catch a glimpse of a Canadian celebrity or two.
Pacific Mall is located in Toronto's north east end at Steeles and Woodbine Avenues and is the largest North American Asian mail. It's even an official tourist attraction in Toronto, and it looks like an Asian Pacific style market shopping mall with 450 stores crowded together. On the main floor you'll find corridors named after Hong Kong streets.Many of the stores sell electronics (cell phone handsets), CDs, DVDs, audio equipment, Chinese herbs, jewelry and appliancse. Not surprisingly, I got a good deal on a rice cooker there.