Kid Icarus (Augusta Ave.)
Kid Icarus has moved. But don't worry, no additional treks across town will be needed--they've moved onto Augusta Ave., continuing owner's Michael Viglione 14-year-long tenancy of Kensington Market. "What we do and the vibe of the market really fit," Viglione tells me. "I couldn't see the business anywhere else."
Kid Icarus was originally born out Viglione and wife Bianca Bickmore's own background in custom printing. They had amassed a large enough stock of art prints to necessitate a proper retail space, and they opened up shop in June 2007 on Nassau St.
The couple previously operated out of 400 sq. ft., in which the retail space, Viglione's studio, and Bickmore's office were understandably cramped. In their new 1,700 sq. ft. space, they have room to stretch out--much like their cat does, a temporary visitor on a couch in the back.
The hunt for a larger space began a year and a half ago, and now they've taken over a property that once housed a luggage store, followed by a digital studio and fairly unremarkable office space. They've only been open for two weeks, but the storefront is already polished. The studio space is in slightly more disarray, with tables still needing to be built, and a scatter of unpacked boxes.
However, as before, most of the magic happens behind the scenes. Kid Icarus is much more than a stationery and gift shop--the back is filled with intimidatingly industrial paper cutters, screen-printing set-ups, and stock shelves. "We also have a meeting room and kitchen now," Bickmore tells me.
Here, they undertake custom work--from posters, to cards, to rubber stamps, to wedding invitations, incorporating either their designs or your own. When it comes to cost, "we're in the mid-range for custom wedding invitations," Bickmore tells me. Viglione adds that "people come to [them] for the quality of the paper--rather than going digital, they can say it's limited edition. It becomes a commemorative piece."
The biggest planned change is still in its infancy. They're at the tail-end of an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds for an artist space in the basement, where they hope to host workshops, erect workstations for industry professionals to rent, and generally speaking, take Kid Icarus where it was always meant to go: a space to foster community in the arts. Already on the roster to rent space is Dave Murray, whose simple, elegant, and meteorically-rising-in-popularity neighbourhood maps are available for purchase for $40 (although always in limited supply).
The move has also meant a boom in business. "We're getting 4 times the amount of traffic," Viglione says. The retail space is, if anything, better laid out. Part of the joy of Kid Icarus is wandering slowly through the maze between tables, on which an array of beautiful, hand-crafted items vie for space.
You'll find issues of Worn Journal, Cuppow--the ingenious plastic lid ($3-$10) which easily fits the mouths of canning and mason jars, turning that Owl and Goose smoothie into a perfect to-go option--and the delicate nature-inspired jewellery designs of Old Weston ($32-$120).
"We have dozens and dozens of artists," Viglione says of their stock, with an emphasis on local artists. You can't get much more local than a Dupont studio, where Falcon Wright produces their screen-printed leather pouches ($22-$55, depending on size), or the feminine floral brooches of Toronto-born ceramicist Julie Moon ($25-$45).
Then there are the greeting cards (on average $5-$6)--entire rows of them. Encompassing the store's eponymous line, the focus is on handmade and letter-press cards. I learn that Toronto's curiously devoid of letter-press artists, but they carry Sudbury's Papillon Press and Kingston's Everlovin' Press, as well as a wealth of cards from Chicago.
The posters almost constitute an eccentric gallery onto themselves, and range between $20 and $40. Depending on rarity--such as the Arcade Fire poster from last year's Polaris music prize--you can expect to pay up to $100. You'll also find higher-end art prints from artists such as Melinda Josie and Gary Taxali (up to $300). Since these are not suitable for haphazardly taping onto your bedroom wall (banish the thought), Kid Icarus offers their own standard frames, or they'll refer you to Telegramme for custom framing (with a helpful discount).
Listening to Bickmore and Viglione, you get a sense of their pride at the concrete things they've accomplished in five short years, but also at the more ineffable network they've created between like-minded artists and craftspeople. "It's very community-oriented," Viglione says of Kensington Market, and looking at Kid Icarus' stock, it becomes clear just why they call the Market home.