Diva finds a tale of two St. Clairs

Shops closing, others opening mark return to west end shopping strip

An innovative piece of marketing sent me to the St. Clair Ave. West strip recently.

It was a business card tucked into an ad on the subway, which I just happened to see while waiting for the doors to open.

That card was a reminder that I haven’t shopped the street for about a year now, save for going to the new Wychcraft market a few months ago.

And with all the challenges the street’s vendors have been facing with the ongoing construction of the dedicated streetcar line, I figured it was high time I took a gander at the streetscape and see how some of the shops are faring.

It isn’t pretty. Walking west from Vaughan Rd., garbage from the strike is strewn all over the sidewalk. Shops I remember writing about over a year ago have closed. I hear about 30 shops have closed during the construction.

But pluckiness prevails. In spite of the obvious challenges — no street parking and accessibility issues in parts — new businesses are opening on the strip and, judging by appearances, seem to be going strong.

Take Andrew Walti and Sherry Adams of Bead Heaven. They opened their beading studio June 1 and haven’t lost any time marketing the concept to the community — and to the subway.

Andrew managed a bead shop in Toronto for nine years before going out on his own. He even converted his girlfriend Sherry to beading almost a decade ago.

Now the two teach evening beading and wiring classes in their shop, which features rows and rows of semi-precious stone beads and all the hardware you need to put your creations together. There are tables where people can work, and if you’re a novice beader, someone will put the clasp on for you.

For non-crafty types, there’s some beautiful jewellery the owners and employees have made. Sherry’s sterling or plated wire and semi-precious stone rings, around $20–70 depending on the stones and the labour, are lovely.

There are rosaries for $30. Speaking of, one of the more interesting workshops is a rosary making class. As Andrew puts it, there are churches all around them. Turns out it’s one of their more popular classes.

The couple also features works by local artists, and though they don’t sell much jewellery that hasn’t been made by them, Andrew couldn’t resist picking up some mood rings he found while trolling for supplies. They look like good ones — not cheapie deapie — and at $6.95 each, I snag one for me and my twin sis.

569 St. Clair Ave. West, 416-410-0606, www.beadheaven.ca.

A few doors west, a suite of neon chairs in pink and green make me stop in my tracks, not to mention the giant ice cream protruding from the storefront.

Inside I meet Lee-Anne Boyd, a party expert at The Lollipop Club.

The business opened in January after relocating from Yonge and St. Clair. It offers fete hosting for kids in its three themed party rooms. There’s also a candy shop with ice cream and every candy you can imagine.

I wish I was a kid. The Enchanted Parties for gals age 5 look fab. The gals can dress up, play in the enchanted playroom and get their hair and nails done.

There are themed parties for tots age 1–5 and also ones for kids up to 10.

The facility will even do the food for you, all nut-free in the party rooms, or parents can bring their own if it’s nut-free. And if the thought of loot bags makes you break out in hives, they can whip those up for you too. Or the kids can go to the candy shop (not nut-free) and pick out a sweet treat in lieu of a bag.

In the candy store, lollipops hang artfully from icy clear chandeliers. I can’t leave without an ice cream. The Roasted Marshmallow by Greg’s Ice Cream is surprisingly yummy — it has a smoky taste that brings back memories of semi-charred S’mores at Girl Guide camp.

I get a double scoop for $4.80 and it’s humungous.

575–577 St. Clair Ave. West, 416-962-2639, www.thelollipopclub.com.

The sidewalk on the south side of the street looks closed west of Christie, so I pop into one last shop before heading home. In Kosoy & Bouchard, I discover the beautiful works of Michelle Kosoy and Pierre Bouchard.

Alas, neither are in the studio but Kosoy’s assistant kindly lets me poke around. Kosoy’s ceramics are gorgeous, each stamped with pretty leafy and oriental-inspired designs. The collections that come out of the technique are called pressware and they’re like nothing I’ve ever seen.

Kosoy makes platters, bowls and planters in various shapes and sizes, in buttery white to soft sea blues and greens.

A square off-white platter is only $80 and would make a perfectly lovely wedding gift. Meanwhile the blue round planter for about the same price would look great on my balcony.

Kosoy has just started doing ceramic lamps with the same stamping technique, outfitted with custom shades. They’re stunning. They’re so new the prices aren’t out but I imagine they’d run you several hundred dollars.

There isn’t a ton of Bouchard’s fired glass pieces in store as he’s just been picked up by a local gallery, I’m told, but a huge flat bowl of multi-coloured glass, around $800, is a real statement piece.

There are also some blown glass pieces by other artists — the drinking glasses in blue and purple with stubby tentacles emanating from the bases, $30 and $35 respectively, are pure magic.

You can learn the ceramic press technique by enrolling in workshop classes, set to begin mid-September.

651 St. Clair Ave. West, 416-651-4480, www.kosoyandbouchard.com.

The Diva shopped some more! Click here to read about what she bought before and after writing this column.

About this article:

By: Kelly Gadzala
Posted: Aug 6 2009 12:40 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto