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Design Stores


Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on May 2, 2012

Homebase TorontoHomebase is a mecca for anyone interested in graffiti culture. The little shop on Camden Street near Queen and Spadina can't be easily classified — it's part gallery, part arts supply, part clothing boutique, and part vintage collectibles.

"Call it a lifestyle shop," Homebase owner and Toronto artist "Skam" tells me on my first visit to the space. "Lifestyle."

Homebase TorontoHomebase opened about a year and a half ago in a century-old home that has been divided into residential units. Skam stumbled upon the space after a friend was looking to move out of the unit, and he had the good fortune of an easy transition from residential to commercial zoning.

Homebase TorontoYou'd never be able to tell that Homebase was actually someone's "home base" (har har) not too long ago, though, since the store now sports new floors, neat shelves, and a wall of meticulously arranged cans of spray paint. Skam sticks with one brand — Montana — which he says is the best of all paints he's tried. The paint comes in regular ($7) and tall ($10) cans, in about every colour imaginable.

Homebase TorontoBut Skam is quick to distinguish his shop from others that simply sell spray paint. Having worked in retail (shoes, specifically) for years before deciding to venture out on his own, Skam wanted his graffiti shop to incorporate clothes and accessories that mesh with the graffiti lifestyle. Some of his shirts ($35) and hoodies ($60), in fact, carry graphics designed by local artists. The shoes, on the other hand, are mostly of familiar brands (Nike and the like), though Skam tries to source hard-to-find styles from overseas or discontinued designs.

Homebase TorontoThen, there's more of the memorabilia items; books, decals, and vintage cans of paint. "I really wouldn't use them," Skam says, picking up 20-year-old can of Rust-Oleum. "People would buy these for their collections." Indeed, it's not the paint collectors would be after, but the discontinued logo and can design. Rust-Oleum, after all, is still in business, but its cans don't look anything like they did in the early 90's.

Homebase TorontoAnd speaking of early 90's, Homebase has rows and rows of snapbacks ($40), many of which are vintage with original tags. "See this," Skam says, pulling a Blue Jays cap off the shelf. He flips over the tag. "No dot-com on the label. This was before the Internet."

Homebase TorontoWhile Homebase could certainly serve as a resource for people looking to repaint their garden fences, to members of Toronto's graffiti scene — those, perhaps, astute enough to notice the significance-laden arrow shape of the shop's front counter — it seems to offer much more. Think, "lifestyle."

Homebase TorontoPhotos by Scott Snider



Paul / May 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm
awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome!!!!!!!
billy / May 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm
What a nice clean exterior. I hope nobody tags it with C_NT or SUCK MY F_CK (like so many garage doors in my neighbourhood) with those big thick markers they surely only sell for poster making.
gr1 / May 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm
pretty stoked on this place, sad i hadnt heard about it before.
wordupp / May 2, 2012 at 12:58 pm
Can we draw on the walls here?
Tagger replying to a comment from billy / May 2, 2012 at 01:03 pm
Why not? The shop obviously knows what it's products are going to be used for, they can suck it up whens someone write "BALLS" in bright pink across their nice building and like it.
Poopdawg / May 2, 2012 at 01:13 pm
I love that desk!
Billy replying to a comment from Tagger / May 2, 2012 at 01:21 pm
ha ha ha right.

Maybe one of the shop's owners could weigh in on how they'd feel if someone tagged their precious little mural on the side of their building or spraypainted C*M GUZZLER on their front window.
mike in parkdale / May 2, 2012 at 01:25 pm
I'm glad toronto has a shop like this. We've come a long way since buy rusto thins from under the counter at No.6. Good luck to the place!

I wonder what their 'bread & butter' products are? Are people buying that much paint? Or maybe it's the shoes?
Jamie replying to a comment from Tagger / May 2, 2012 at 01:26 pm
I think you missed the joke here.

He was referring to the "grafitti" that Rob Ford cleaned up and gave a press conference in front of not too long ago.

Quite well, might I add.
george / May 2, 2012 at 01:48 pm
I am so sick of blogto and the whole grafitti thing!
Jones / May 2, 2012 at 02:00 pm
Maybe I'm naive, but this shop is really, really slick. Maybe too slick to be an independent? Is there some sponsorship going on?
hellebelle / May 2, 2012 at 02:08 pm
i wonder what the shirts and hoodies look like.
TheRealJohnson / May 2, 2012 at 02:18 pm
How convenient. Now the cops tasked with cracking down on graffiti can just sit outside this store and follow the people that come out with their newly purchased paint.

Maybe Rob Ford is the sponsor behind this store...
too ez replying to a comment from TheRealJohnson / May 2, 2012 at 02:22 pm
Rob Ford just sponsors KFCs.
mike in parkdale replying to a comment from TheRealJohnson / May 2, 2012 at 02:50 pm
excpet owning paint is not illegal. Neither is painting permission / sponsored / legal walls (at least not yet).

I'd be willing to bet that most of the high end paint colours sold at this shop end up on permission walls. Some punk kid writing 'fuck' under a bride isn't using quality paint - they're probably using whatever they can steal from grandpa's garage. Cracking down on this store will not change that part of graffiti.
Rizzy / May 2, 2012 at 03:01 pm
why are the so many judemental whiners in toronto, of all places? so many amenities, and things to experience that you might not get the opprotunity to elsewhere. but still - never happy, always having to piss on anothers accomplishments, and belittle culture that doesn't fit into their narrow world view. toronto is hub to many many cultures. Multiculturalism is not just a "buzz term". It's an actual policy that defines us as Canadians. if you want homogenous, maybe you should think about moving, because this city clearly is not for you. bottom line is: if you can't bring yourself to be a little less morally judgemental, and look at things with a little more relatively, you are always going to be an uhappy judgmental whiner. no one likes whiners, espeacially when they are adults.

Congrats to skam on his shop. it looks dope IN MY PERSONAL OPINION.
Johanne replying to a comment from Rizzy / May 2, 2012 at 04:10 pm
To be fair, why are you pissing on other's commenting accomplishments and belittle the culture of sassy comments that don't fit into your narrow world view? BlogTO is hub to many many commenters. Negativism is not just a "buzz term". It's an actual policy that defines us as blogTO commenters.
Andrew / May 2, 2012 at 08:09 pm
Great post by BlogTO shouts to Skam ... It's dope that they're shining a light on local legends!
zingo replying to a comment from Rizzy / May 2, 2012 at 09:32 pm
Says the biggest whiner with the longest whining post.
Rob Ford Dialed 911 A Long Time Ago / May 3, 2012 at 08:20 am
SKAM's ugly tags still exist in this city. How come the police don't crack down on his scribbles by going to his workplace?

Gregory / May 3, 2012 at 08:03 pm
Because SKAM is a legend. / February 19, 2014 at 11:53 am

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