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Hide your credit cards: Toronto's best shopping experiences



Save some room in your suitcase when you visit Toronto with the intent of going shopping. Maybe even bring a bag entirely for your finds, as Toronto has stores so tempting that it will be hard not to pull out the plastic.

Whether you have a red carpet event to attend (us neither) or just want to load up on the latest fashion, Toronto is filled with stores that will delight you and potentially drain your wallet. 

If you like to kick it old school at a department store, Hudson's Bay and Holt Renfrew will bring out a little Audrey Hepburn in you. If you prefer a specialty shop, we have everything from menswear with a built-in barbershop at Gotstyle to Canadian inspired swag at Drake General Store.

Most of these stores are excellent places to get a souvenir or two if you want to let someone know back home that you were thinking of them. If you think that you would be a more deserving recipient of that souvenir, we completely understand. 


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Gotstyle


We know that when it comes to shopping lists, men often get the short end of the stick. Therefore, we are pleased to welcome you to one of Toronto's leading menswear stores, Gotstyle. Rather than outfitting one portion of a man's lifestyle, Gotstyle addresses the whole man: business, social and casual. With shoes and accessories on offer, they even have a barbershop to provide their customers with a fresh shave to complement their new look. There are a range of price points and styles but all will make a man feel sophisticated and stylish. Let's bring the dapper back, one cuff link at a time.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: International sophisticated menswear that will put a swagger in any man's step.

Courtney's expert tip: There are two locations of Gotstyle. We have directed you to the Distillery, which will outfit both men and women. If you choose to go to 62 Bathurst, you will gain the in-house tailor and barbershop but lose the ladies options.

Read more about Gotstyle →


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High Park/Roncesvalles
Likely General
Photo courtesy of Angela Lewis


Likely General is a design shop in Toronto like no other. Its diverse products involve knitted hats, limited print books and handcrafted room spray. Owner Brooke Manning is on hand to provide her expertise on every product. Brooke is a musician who has her hand directly in the artistic community, and the local, crafted products that make the cut into her store are goods that you won't find displaced to a garage sale in the future. Brooke uses neat cursive on a chalkboard that she places directly in the front to welcome you into her store. Once you enter you are not "likely" to find anything "general" about the space. (Sorry.) Go to browse, to sign up for a craft course held twice a month, or to align with your artistic side.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Handmade work by Canadian designers that will allow you to feel like the one-of-a-kind shopper that you are.

Courtney's expert tip: Every Sunday, there is an opportunity for tarot card readings - book online to focus on "what matters" through cards with Diana Piruzevska.

Read more about Likely General →




Normally food isn't included in a best shopping list, because grocery shopping is often seen as a chore and not pleasure. That is not true at "the world's best food market", in operation since 1803 on what was then "Market Block." It was the first permanent farmer's market, and insightful tours can keep you abreast of this important part of Toronto history. In 1834 it became a temporary office for the local civic government. It was rebuilt after the Great Fire of Toronto but continues to be a hub of Toronto activity. Most importantly, it has everything delicious under one roof, from locally aged cheeses to the best peameal bacon sandwiches in town.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: St. Lawrence Market has all the food you have ever craved under one roof.

Courtney's expert tip: If you can go during the week, do so. You won't miss the Saturday crowd.

Read more about St. Lawrence Market →


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Yorkville Village
Photo courtesy of Courtesy of Yorkville Village


Upscale shopping at its best; this Bloor-Yorkville destination has been at the top of the list for visiting celebs and well-to-do Torontonians since it opened back in the 1970s. Look for shoes, handbags and couture from designers such as Badgley Mischka, Christian Louboutin, Monique Lhuillier, Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and Zac Posen. Shop for organic groceries at Whole Foods (or Whole Paycheque) with the cloth bag-touting elite. Pick up a bottle of wine. Go to Equinox for a sweaty yoga class or spinning session. Whatever you do here, it will be stylish because it's all about location, location, location and Yorkville Village has GOT it.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Yorkville is truly one-of-a-kind in Toronto and the place to go if you are swimming in cash.

Courtney's expert tip: This is a great place to people-watch, especially during the Toronto International Film Festival, when celebrity-spotting is a common occurrence.

Read more about Yorkville Village →


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Queen West
Logan & Finley
Photo courtesy of Logan & Finley


Logan & Finley is the store you go to when the pulse of the city becomes a little too loud. It is also the place you go when you start to crave a canoe more than a coffee. This eco-friendly store is the in heart of downtown Toronto but feels like it is in harmony with nature. You can buy excellent (albeit stereotypical) Canadian products, such as maple syrup, or you can get other handmade products that are unexpected, such as a local skincare line. The clothing is sustainable and local, with designs that don't scream "I'm a hippie!" During the summer months, golf tees and maxi dresses reign with lovely neutral colors that will blend well with your existing closet.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Toronto is working hard to get greener and this eco-friendly store makes environmental choices look trendy.

Courtney's expert tip: For a great money-saving and green gift, buy some Abeego beeswax wrap. This will replace saran wrap and last for years.

Read more about Logan & Finley →




If there is any sport or activity that you have an affinity for, Mountain Equipment Co-op (or MEC) is the place to go. Whether you are trying on a sweat-wicking, toddler holding backpack or rain gear that will support your trek up Kilimanjaro, MEC is filled with affordable and functional clothing that will move you towards your goals. This outdoor-gear brand prides itself on minimizing environmental impact by building products that last. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or a calm crusader, this large store is interested in outfitting your free time. They have preferred parking set aside for hybrid vehicles and car co-ops. Check out their website for their weekly clinics that can teach you anything from how to maintain your bike to how to run barefoot.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: A Canadian institution, you have not shopped north of the border if you haven't set foot in this mecca of sports clothing and gear.

Courtney's expert tip: Become a part-owner in the co-op and buy your $5-lifetime membership at the same time you make your purchase. This is mandatory and it may be the best $5 you have ever spent.

Read more about Mountain Equipment Co-op →


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Even though department stores are going out of style about as quickly as the last version of the iPhone, we would be remiss to not include Hudson's Bay in a Toronto 10 Best Shopping list. Hudson's Bay is as Canadian as Canada goose jackets and long shivering winters. Their signature blankets with thick stripes across a white background can be found in almost every Toronto home. The department store itself was founded in 1670 and is North America's largest continually operated company. Being older than Canada itself means that there is a little nostalgia, but also a lot of amazing goods. Clothing, shoes, accessories, furniture, beauty products and countless other products can be purchased or admired. If you are a visitor to Toronto, get your hands on one of those blankets.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: This Canadian-proud department store is steeped in history and sure to have anything you desire.

Courtney's expert tip: The windows outside of the Queen street location are always worth a look. If you are visiting during the holidays, they get even more lavish and spectacular.

Read more about Hudson's Bay →




Shopping at Holt Renfrew in the Bloor-Yorkville area of Toronto harks back to the time when customer service was all about the customer rather than the commission. There are concierges that roam the store ready to attend to your every need. There are complimentary alterations on all full-priced items. There are an in-house spa and barber. There is a cafe with Pinterest-worthy pastries and the frothiest of cappuccinos. High-end designers present fashion shows in the store. The experience is top-notch, even if your price bracket will only allow you to look longingly at items. Drown your sorrows in one of those cappuccinos before you exit.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: A fashionistas paradise, this high-end shopping experience is filled to the brim with luxurious items to covet.

Courtney's expert tip: If you are a fan of Project Runway, check out Holt's Twitter feed and website to meet the designers of your dreams in person during one of their many events.

Read more about Holt Renfrew →




Torontonians like to believe that they are living in Canada's New York, and when Saks Fifth Avenue landed in Toronto it just added more fuel to our fire. This flagship New York Store opened in the old location of Hudson's Bay, a beloved Canadian landmark. The large space proved that retail therapy is apparently not dead. There are over 1,000 shoes on display at any given time, giving an adult playground to every woman (and man, for that matter) who idolized Carrie Bradshaw. Men's clothing and shoes are also enormous departments, as Saks once declared that "Men are the new women." (We'll see.) In any case, this luxury market will have someone for everyone, even those dedicated to getting most of the items in their life from Amazon.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Remember shopping? In a store? Saks makes it glamorous again.

Courtney's expert tip: There are personal shoppers available to help you to decide what is "just right." But of course.

Read more about Saks Fifth Avenue →


Drake General Store
Photo courtesy of The Drake Hotel


In the market for some ghee and some ironic children's clothing? You can get both at Drake General Store as well as other quirky items, like adult onesies and solid Gold Slinkys. You can also buy onesies for the kids for one heck of a family photo. Originally the hotel gift shop for the Drake, there are now four locations that are part flea market, part museum shop. "We love things that are sensible and things that are not so sensible," they claim. Look for the neon purple cross which may confuse you to thinking you have landed in a pharmacy when you are just in gifting heaven. (And before you ask, no, the store does not belong to the recording artist.)

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Canadian curated gifts that are memorably unique. Canada is cool. We know it and it is time the rest of the world follows suit.

Courtney's expert tip: If you like multitasking, there is also a single-chair barbershop, as well as a coffee shop that serves coffee that was roasted in Canada.

Read more about Drake General Store →


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Meet Courtney Sunday

Courtney Sunday has lived in England, Switzerland, Canada and the US, finding her way into the professions of freelance writing and yoga teaching in between travel opportunities. She learned...  More About Courtney

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