Help for holiday Midtown shopping

Avoid shopping malls and hit your local shops for all your gifts

There’s a solution to surviving holiday shopping this year at malls: don’t go.

Unless you’re a shopping masochist who gets a thrill out of half an hour wait lines and finds joy in getting trampled over as eager customers race to the sale section, opt for local shops and boutiques rather than heading to the congested shopping malls.

Jane Martin said you don’t have to go to the mall to experience great shopping. The retail expert — who launched a website called Toronto Shopoholic — said there are other areas that offer just as many shops as malls, if not more.

“Depending on what you’re looking for, the top three neighbourhoods to shop in are: Yonge and Eglinton, Leslieville and Queen St. West,” Martin said. “With Yonge and Eglinton, you get a mix of mall stores and boutiques so you get the best of both worlds.

Meanwhile, Leslieville has cool independent designers — vintage fashion shops and local Toronto designers, and with Queen West, you have a lot of shopping stores in one area.”

But if you still remain a little skeptical, opt for online shopping. Martin said this will make for a quick, easy and enjoyable shopping experience for anyone.

Though online deals will be rampant, be conscious of delivery dates, Martin said.

“Depending on the retailer, many will have on their website of when you have to shop by,” she said. “Usually you can pay for an express shipping – it’s just a lot more expensive. Read what the retailer says, because you can receive your shipment within two business days or two weeks later.”

Knowing where to shop is not the only weapon against Christmas shopping. It’s also important to keep in mind what to shop for.

Tamika Auwai — creator of the website Shop Socials — said if you’re looking for something in particular, ask someone, especially if you’re shopping in local boutiques.

“(Boutique shops are) smaller and don’t have the mall to support them and so they will help you,” the shopping specialist said. “They’ll give you their undying support in finding that perfect gift because they value your business.”

Indeed, being prepared and knowing what to purchase in advance can contribute to making your shopping experience a pleasant one. Part of this means doing your research and making a list.

“Make sure you know what they want beforehand because it speeds up the whole process compared to if you’re just wandering around aimlessly,” Martin said. “And know what types of stores they shop at, because if all else fails you can get them a gift card.”

If you’re strapped for cash however, Martin suggests other alternatives such as baking or hand-making a gift. And for parents — who she said are the most difficult to shop for — giving them a professionally snapped photo of the family is a great idea.

With any gift, Auwai said it may not always be about what they want but what you desire as well.

“It may be bold to say that everybody likes what you like, but sometimes friends and family appreciate the things that you might have tried and liked,” she said. “You can expose them to different products that they might not be aware of but may develop a liking to.”

No matter where we end up shopping and what we end up buying — or making — for our loved ones this holiday, Auwai said take pleasure in it.

“Keep your stamina up, pop into a café, have yourself a hot chocolate and enjoy your shopping experience instead of getting stressed out.”

About this article:

By: Sharon Ko
Posted: Dec 21 2010 2:31 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto