Toronto Shopping Tips by Paul2001 Top 5 Page for this destination
Toronto Shopping: 208 reviews and 252 photos
World's Biggest Bookstore
The World's Biggest Bookstore is part of the Chapter's/Indigo. It may have been the largest bookstore in the world when it was founded in 1980 but this claim is now made by a Barnes and Noble outlet in New York. Still it is probably the largest bookstore in Canada.
The store has a very wide selection of books that is much broader than other stores in the Chapter's/Indigo chain. However if it is atmosphere that you are looking for, then you will not find it here. The books are displayed on a orange steel shelves and there is rarely helpful staff to assist you nearby.
Egads, another casualty in the decline of the book. Have we just stopped reading or are books too expensive. The World's Biggest Bookstore has just closed down too. I can remember my Mother telling me how excited I will get about visiting this store back when I was just 17 years of age.
What to buy: The store has a wonderful history/politics section which is why I still come here. The magazine section is unrivaled in Toronto.
Address: 20 Edwards Street
Directions: One block north of Yonge Street. It is not a pleasant location as the street is often full of panhandlers, and worse, drug dealers. Still there is rarely any violent crime.
Phone: (416) 977-7009
Nicholas Hoare is perhaps my favourite bookstore in Toronto. Located in a lovely 19th century building, the bookstore is decorated with high wooden shelves, big fluffy couches and fireplaces. This is actually what a bookstore should look like instead of a shopping market or bowling alley full of books. Nicholas Hoare is well known for its large availablility of British titles, biographies, travel books and children books. Above all, Nicholas Hoare has a superb collection of art books that are hard to find in other bookstores. The staff here is very knowledgable if a little snobby.
Perhaps they were a little too snobby as this bookstore like so many others has just closed down. This is the sign of the time I guess.
Address: 45 Front Street East
Directions: Just east of the business district.
Phone: (416) 777 BOOK (2665)
Sam the Record Man
A Toronto institution for years, Sam the Record Man used to be the favourite haunt of every young person who eagerly collected music. I used to make almost daily visits, but then again I worked and lived nearby for years(I worked in that ugly building to the right in this picture).
Sam's used to claim to have any record you could think of in stock and its collection even today is still very impressive. It had fallen on hard times a few years ago because of the downloading of music over the internet and from other superstore competition nearby but for me it is still the place to go (even if they fired my cousin). I think that there has been a resurgence of sorts these days because of the sales of DVD's and computer games.
It is fun to walk through the large store, especially in it's original core, to see all the memorabilia and autographs from visiting recording artists.
Sadly Sam the Record Man will be closing down for good on June 30, 2007. Personally I saw the writing on the wall as it seemed that every time I entered the store, that customers were scares. It is a disappointment to lose a store that you have been visiting frequently for much of your adult life but alas the times they are a changing.
What to buy: Sam the Record Man's is best for rock music. There is an excellent Jazz section too. Before CD's this was the place to go for classical music but curiously enough this has fallen off considerably recently.
Address: 347 Yonge Street
Directions: At Yonge and Gould just north of the Eaton Centre.
The Eaton Centre and the Flight Stop.
For many tourists (and I pity those who actually are like this) the Eaton Centre is the primary reason for a trip to Toronto. The is the shopaholics Mecca as there are seemingly countless stores that will appeal to all ages and all bank accounts.
The Eaton Centre was designed by Eberhard Zeidler and Bregman + Hamann Architects and was meant to resemble Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II located in Milan, Italy. I have always liked this design for the top floor is very bright with sunlight. Throughout the years there have been many additions and redesigns of the mall. Probably the biggest change is the fact that there is no longer a "Eaton's" who went bankrupt twice. No loss as I thought that the store was dreary. They have also pulled down the Cineplex theatre, at one time the largest multi-screen theatre is the world. Additions have included a H&M store. There are now 330 stores in the complex and more will be added in 2006. There is also one notable piece of art that being the "Flight Stop" a sculpture by Michael Snow. It represents a flock of Canadian geese landing from the galleria ceiling and is located near the south entrance to the mall on the top floor.
Originally when the mall was opened back in 1977, The Eaton Centre had three shopping levels where the most expensive stores, like Harry Rosen, were located on the top floor while the cheapest places where located on the bottom floor. Today these remains the plan however I have noticed that the result of this is that the bottom floor is full of teenagers while the top floor sees little pedestrian traffic. Another problem I have with the mall is the fact that in recent years the south entrance off of Queen as become the focal point of assorted riffraff, panhandling, cruising for sex and selling drugs.
What to buy: Indigo Books is a very good bookstore, similar to Barnes and Nobles. All the other usual chains that you might find in malls from California to Poland are here. Uniquely Canadian is Harry Rosen, which is a men's clothing store. The mall is open Monday to Friday from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Saturday from 9:30 AM to 7:00 PM and Sunday from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Directions: It is bordered by Queen to the south and Dundas to the north and stretches along the west side of Yonge Street.
St. Lawrence Market
St. Lawrence Market has been called one of the ten best markets in the World. While that claim is very debatable, it is certainly worth visiting for its wonderful atmosphere and for its wide range of produce.
Historically there has been a market on this location since 1796. The market is presently held in a large, grande building that dates from the 19th century. In fact the facade was actually part of second city hall, built in 1850. It was turned into a market in 1899 when a serious renovation was undertaken. It was more recently restored again in the 1970's. Today it little resembles the market that I visited with my family as a boy in the 1960's. When it was restored back in the 70's, a Market Gallery was included where there are frequently changing exhibitions featuring the history of Toronto. The Market Gallery is located on the second floor of the South Market Building. Today there are more than fifty vendors located in the St. Lawrence Market. They sell a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat products, all very fresh and of high quality.
St. Lawrence Market is actually two buildings. What most people think of as the market itself, is in fact the South Building. The north building on the other side of Front Street is in a modern building that has far less character than the south building. Still in Sundays there is a good flea market held in the north building. The South Market is open on the following days and hours:
Tues-Thurs 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Fridays 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
Saturdays 5 a.m.-5 p.m.
It is free to enter.
Address: 95 Front Street East.
Directions: Downtown Toronto on Front Street east of Yonge Street. The nearest subway stations are King and Union
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