Jse-Che Lam is
a Toronto-based writer who is on a one year sabbatical from her
teaching job so that she can Explore, Travel, and Play. We're
delighted to have her in our Journeywoman Network and feel she
is the perfect person to ask about (will finish this once article
* * *
Whether you live
in Toronto and are travelling abroad or you are a visitor looking
for souvenirs to bring home for your pals I have several personal
shopping guidelines to offer other JourneyWomen.
I prefer to source
out items that are locally made, preferably something small, unique,
and useful. Bookmarks, fridge magnets, jewellery, or well-packaged
snack items are wonderful choices. During tourist season, you
can also find special items at farmers’ markets, street
festivals, or outdoor events.
Need a lot of souvenirs?
Stretch your dollars by checking the store’s clearance section.
Dollar stores always have an area for tourists.
Always check your
airline’s weight restriction on luggage as well as the quarantine
restrictions at your destination. If you have a fragile item,
ask the shopkeeper to package your item appropriately or ask if
it can be shipped home for you instead.
I know that as a
traveller, my souvenir shopping is usually done at the last minute.
Unless I have found something not to be missed, I don’t
want to be carrying around too much stuff. I also want to comparison
shop since this is one of the most important rituals of retail
Here’s a rundown
of ten of my favourite local finds. These aren’t tourist
traps but places that local Torontonians frequent.
1. If are not particularly concerned with the
birthright of your souvenir, Spadina Avenue has numerous vendors
selling logoed t-shirts that you can buy in bulk. Look out for
(378 Spadina Avenue), an awesome spot that is chock full of Asian
keepsakes, housewares, handmade paper, and last minute gifts.
It’s like an Asian themed dollar store but better!
2. University of
Toronto Bookstore (214 College Street): University
swag is certainly cheaper than tuition for a four-year undergraduate
degree. Find licensed U of T giftware and clothing here (don’t
forget to check the clearance section on the lower level). The
back to school rush in September is to be avoided unless you want
to feel the surge of students as they converge to buy textbooks.
3. Peach Berserk
(507 Queen Street West): Other arbiters of cool have left Queen
Street West due to high rents or fashionista fickleness but not
this designer. Peach Berserk is for those who believe in vibrant
colours and in statement clothing. Lots of teens sign up for their
silk-screening workshops so they can design something one-of-a-kind
for their high school prom. Click
4. Nicholas Hoare
Bookshop (45 Front Street East): Imagine that
charming, genteel bookstore that every bookworm wants in her neighbourhood.
My favourite detail in this shop is the sliding ladder, giving
this welcoming shop a touch of elegance and glamour. This is the
bookseller to visit if you are seeking exceptional customer service
and advice about quality Canadian literature. Website: www.nicholashoare.com
Go home with a selection of buttons to remind you of the city’s
subway system! Each adorable little button was designed to match
its corresponding subway station. Sold by the set and wildly popular
with civic-minded Torontonians. Check the Spacing website for
shop locations. Website: www.spacing.ca/store/buttons
6. Good Egg
(267 Augusta Avenue): This is a cookbook store that carries whimsical
kitchen giftware as well as cookware. Entering this specialty
boutique induces giddiness. As with most Kensington shopkeepers,
the owner and her staff are approachable and knowledgeable. The
store’s inventory reflects the thoughtful touches of a curator
who has chosen quality items that will appeal to foodies. A Canadian
cookbook would be a lovely reminder of your travels. Website:
(York Quay Centre, 235 Queens Quay West): This is a contemporary
art and design shop that showcases some of the most innovative
finds in Canadian Craft – in fact, you can watch the artisans
creating these pieces in the adjoining open workshops. Note that
the shop also includes work from internationally renowned artisans.
The selections available at Bounty have a playful, funky vibe.
Anyone who appreciates functional art and design will enjoy this
8. The Guild Shop
(118 Cumberland Avenue): Various artists and different types of
mediums are represented at the Guild Shop. This is the place for
a special art collectible or sophisticated keepsake for that splurge
purchase. Different price points are represented but this is definitely
the destination for the discerning shopper. Website: http://www.theguildshop.ca
Bakery and Café (787 Queen Street West)
as well as other several locations: Come for a coffee and a slice
of yummy cake. Take home some of Dufflet’s pre-packaged
indulgences for a sweet-toothed friend who will no doubt be happy
and grateful that you chose such a thoughtful and delicious gift.
10. CBC Shop
(250 Front Street West): The Canadian Broadcasting Company is
the country’s national network. After exploring the radio
and television museum in this flagship building, seek out the
boutique. Lots of DVDs, CDs, books, and clothes are for available
sale. The top best-sellers include the Hockey Night in Canada
line of merchandise. Remember that we, Canadians are most passionate
about our hockey! Website: www.cbcshop.ca
for 100 yen shops in Tokyo...
shopping in Tokyo, hit the 100 yen shops. Everything
in the store is 100 yen and there is an amazing assortment
to chose from. Some shops - Harajuku, Shinjuku, Ikebukero
are multi-levels and the items are divided into sections
– kitchen, home, beauty, etc. The selection is endless
– dishes, napkins, chopsticks, washi paper, snacks,
charms, hair accessories, slippers, etc. This is also the
place to pick up things for your trip – travel-size
shampoo bottles, extra toothbrushes, mesh bags for dirty
laundry, socks, locks for backpacks, and also places for
souvenirs and gifts – funny stationary with Engrish
on it, kimono print notebooks, lanterns, etc. You can go
crazy inside – everything is just about a dollar.
(Laura, Toronto, Canada)
found a great way to acquire inexpensive and beautiful souvenirs
of my trips without packing, storing or shipping problems
of any kind. I have collected close to 100 gorgeous bookmarks.
They are available in every museum shop, church store and
in the beautiful paper shops in Venice, Florence, and Seoul.
And the best part is I love using them myself and also giving
them away as gifts. Bookmarks are great reminders of the
wonderful places I've had the privilege to visit.
(Harriet, California, USA)
perfect travel souvenir...
I travel I love to spend time looking for the perfect souvenir
in all the towns I pass through. I'm always making mental
notes about what I want to bring back with me that will
remind me of this place or that. I also like to buy something
new to wear like earrings or a scarf really early during
my holiday so I can wear them and spruce up my not-so-new
travel outfits. These items often become treasured souvenirs
that bring back memories of where I bought and wore them
(Astrid in New York City, USA)
bring back memories...
is my passion and over the years I've collected an assortment
of wonderful 'stuff', juicy souvenirs of the many, many
crazy adventures I've had along the way. I love 'my stuff'
because it reminds me of the places I've been, the people
I've met, and the shopping scenarios that led to my purchases.
Each has its very own story. To read
(Evelyn Hannon, Journeywoman Editor)