Six degrees on St. Clair

[attach]2786[/attach]This is a column about six degrees of shopping separation, about how one shopping exploit can lead to another when peeps pull together and promote their ’hood.

It all started on a jaunt along St. Clair Avenue West one chilly October afternoon:

Traipsing along in search of something new on the storefront scene, I’m stopped in my tracks by a virtual friend I’ve only corresponded with via email – she’s a regular reader of my thrifty shopping and style [url=]blog[/url] (it’s a shameless plug, but bear with me, there is a shopping connection here), and she just happened to recognize me.

After some chit chat, my thrifty style pal, who lives in the hood, points me toward a hitherto un-shopped terrain pour moi, the relatively new [url=]Shendah’s[/url].

I descend on owner Shendah Davy, whose yellow-hued giftware and accessory store is like manna for November grey-dom, and Davy gives me the lowdown on some of the specialized products she carries since opening just over a year ago.

Totes, purses, jewellery and home accessories by the Marie (that’s Osmond) Lifestyle Collection are lovely and not many shops in the city carry the line, apparently. A black and red poppy lamp would be in my living room at this moment if I had a spare $195 hanging around.

Many of the items are tried and true by Shendah, like the jam by The Stove Kitchen out of Bancroft, Ontario (I know the town well, home of the Bancroft Gem Festival), which comes in funny names like Toe Jam and there are even sugar-free varieties, $5.25-6.25.

Aromocology-based home fragrances by Lampe Berger called Easy Scent are new to the market and can be found here; they’re essential oil-infused discs that can be inserted in these pretty, battery-powered contemporary looking diffusers, $54.99-59.99.

By the time you read this the store will be transformed into a Holiday ornament, accessory and tchotchka paradise. There are also books and toys for kids.

786 St. Clair Ave. W, 416-658-0101, [url=][/url]

Shendah tells me I must check out the pet store across the way, which has been open since May.

[attach]2787[/attach]Inside I meet [url=]Mutts & Cats[/url] owner Rosemary Commisso, a young lady of 25 who was born and raised in the area and decided to open a specialty cat and dog store right in her ’hood.

This is truly a different pet store. Commisso not only tries to stock as many natural and organic pet foods as possible; she also does her best to carry Canadian-made items.

On the food front there’s Orijen, an all-natural product made with fresh regional ingredients; there’s also Healthy Paws raw frozen food that’s good for dogs and cats with allergies.

I’ve never been in a pet store that sells locally made items, but they’re here: the naturally-shed deer antlers by local company This & That range from $12.99-$26.99 and are apparently better for animals than chewing on rawhide. Commisso says she went to high school with the person who developed the product so there’s a hyper community angle to boot.

Meanwhile the Buddy Belt collar and support belt for dogs with weak spines was made by a Queen St. West entrepreneur and Commisso says it’s the best of its kind on the market.

There are heaps of other Canadian-made pet treats along with toys and grooming products, and even lambswool fleece animal blankets that can be fully customized by an artisan based in New Brunswick that Commisso has partnered with.

781 St. Clair Ave. W 416-652-6888, [url=][/url]

Commisso in turn refers me to husband and wife teams Carlos Flores and Sandra DaSilva, and Cristina DaSilva and Enrique Cabezas, whose Cocoa Latte cafe on the strip has been so successful they’ve decided to open a retail store a few doors east.

[url=]Clay[/url] is due to open Dec. 1 and will specialize in kitchenware, housewares and some decorative accessories for the home.

Apparently customers started asking where they could buy the plates the café uses, so the enterprising bunch figured, why not sell the plates?

Flores tells me they’ll also carry some industrial kitchen accessories that they use in the café, like blenders, smoothie makers and knives.

There will also be pretty yet functional pieces. Even a toaster can be beautiful, he says.

We walk over to the gutted space where the store will be and I ask Flores if the shop will truly be ready to open in just a little over a month. I’m told they put Cocoa Latte together in four weeks all by themselves, so if they can do it once, my money’s on the table that they can do it again.

659 St. Clair Ave. West, [url=][/url]

No one but the little voice inside my head told me to go there – but let’s just say I had a feeling about D’Mode.

Though new to me, the shop has been around for about seven years. And if you haven’t been there yet, I would consider heading thither for the best priced scarves of their quality that I have ever seen.

Sure, there are wool hats for $20, and stone necklaces for as little as $10-15. But the scarves are the real gems and best bang for your buck – I mean, who has ever heard of a silk-pashmina blend scarf for six bucks, or a 100 percent cashmere scarf for $11.99? We’re not talking the cheapie “pashmina” scarves you see in the dollar store either.

At that price you can stock up for the holidays, which is exactly my plan. I’m also going back for a few oblong paisley scarves with wool on one side, $39.95, which are made in India.

780 St. Clair Ave. West, 416-652-3397