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Design Stores

Likely General

Posted by Sarah Ratchford / Posted on July 19, 2013

Likely General TorontoLikely General opened yesterday in Roncesvalles, and I knew it was a winner before I even stepped in the door. How, you ask? Owner Brooke Manning has a chalkboard sign propped up outside, and on it, she wrote "Opening day. Sorta like the first day of school. Wanna be friends?"

Likely General TorontoWith that, my hopes are up, and the shop doesn't disappoint. Manning says "hi" to me when I step in, and I take the time to browse around. There are picnic baskets and bike baskets propped up on the windowsill and along the floor. There's a beautifully crafted, industrial chic pipe shelving unit holding everything from Mason jar sippy cups made by Manning ($8) to local honey, chips and preserves. Everything on her shelves is handmade and "responsibly built, with integrity," by which she means the production process is kind to both humans and the environment.

Likely General TorontoThe other side of the room feels like your coolest girlfriend's bedroom. There are two vanity table-esque setups with so many beautiful goodies spread out, from perfumes by Mermaid ($44) to tinted lip conditioner by Ilia in a range of colours ($24) and Baggu pouches with little faces ($27).

Likely General TorontoManning went to OCAD for photography, and though she finished her program, it wasn't her thing. Then she toured as a musician for a bit, but that wasn't it, either. That's when she decided to open Likely General. What she's doing now is definitely one of her callings in this life, if her current collection is any indication.

Likely General TorontoThis is a true general store, with items ranging from children's toys to kitchen stuff to beauty products and screen prints made by Manning's friends. Everything is pulled together and seems cohesive, despite the huge range of stuff on offer. I think it's the whimsical, imaginative nature of the treasures she's collected. We have a jokey chat about "curating," which just has to be made fun of sometimes, but there's no question that's what Manning has done here, and skillfully.

As I chill in the store scoping out the ever-so-lovely collection, Julie Clark, the creator of Province Apothecary, pops in to say hi. Manning introduces us, and I get a personal rundown of the line's clearly and unabashedly named sex oil ($28) from its creator. It's made from coconut oil, but doesn't smell! It doesn't harden up (haha) either, and it won't stain the sheets.

Likely General TorontoI've saved one of the most exciting things about Likely General for last. On certain special Sundays, Manning is going to invite artists who have made some of the creations in her store to conduct DIY workshops. Crafty mavens can pay about $40 to $60 to take book binding classes, beauty product tutorials, and other fun activities Manning's got up her sleeve. Fees go toward supplies, the artist's time, and cocktails. "I just want to have a cozy time," she tells me.

Sign. Me. Up.

Likely General TorontoPhotos by Andrew Williamson.



4ChanApologist / July 19, 2013 at 09:26 am
I want to give them money for whatever that bear thing is in the headline picture.

Unfortunately trying to navigate their website to find a specific item is just brutal. I understand wanting to have a unique feel for the website, but c'mon... usability.
WitDickman / July 19, 2013 at 10:23 am
Wow...hipster overload.
Syd / July 19, 2013 at 10:44 am
What's that big turd thing in the first picture?
goldenkiwi / July 19, 2013 at 11:07 am
So her calling in life was to...enjoy nice-looking commodities? So do thousands of people with decent Pinterest accounts. We'd all be making a living off filling a room with pretty things (or what most people call a hobby) if our parents decided to unload a heap of money on us too.
theoadorno / July 19, 2013 at 11:53 am
Jesus - the lady appreciates well designed products and has created a venue to share them with others. give her a break!

what I wouldn't give to have a truckload of lye dumped on the BlogTo troll pit.
Joey replying to a comment from Syd / July 19, 2013 at 12:08 pm
It's not a turd (although it looks like it), it's a sleeping bear. I think it's supposed to be "art".
KB / July 19, 2013 at 01:21 pm
@GoldenKiwi The difference between Brooke and the "millions of Pinterest users" is that she worked hard, did her research and gathered her resources to actually make a brick-and-mortar shop, which is a feat in itself. The fact that everything is sourced locally, sustainable and beautiful makes it even more impressive. If her choices bother you so much, maybe stop trolling the Internet and making massive assumptions that everyone doing something creative, artsy or out of the box got money from their parents. It just makes you look incredibly unhappy.
Annie / July 19, 2013 at 01:33 pm
This is a beautiful store and Brooke is one of the most genuine people I know. She worked very hard and saved up to create her dream of supporting herself and other artists. I don't usually buy into BlogTO garbage but as a friend, I had to post.
amy / July 19, 2013 at 01:42 pm
this shop is gorgeous and perfectly curated. so excited to see more local, handmade goods available in the west end!
MrsPotato replying to a comment from Joey / July 19, 2013 at 03:12 pm
i thought it was a severely obese potbellied pig with really bad skin. GROSS.
Tim replying to a comment from goldenkiwi / July 19, 2013 at 03:24 pm
typical kind of comment from people who will never amount to anything crapping on people who work hard and give it a go. Goldenkiwi - do go fuck yourself.
Laxton replying to a comment from MrsPotato / July 19, 2013 at 03:43 pm
I thought it was a pig at first too, but now I think it's a bear.
J-Dana / July 19, 2013 at 03:55 pm
Yesss! Another great addition to the neighbourhood.
MindFlayer / July 19, 2013 at 04:20 pm

How to Make Your Own Likely General!

- Smear a non-stick pan with gobs of "industrial chic"
- Add 12 pounds of Magic Pony merchandise and designers
- Rework the name "Drake General"

Ta-Da! thought it'd be hard, but it's actually super easy to start up a business like this, and way cheaper than buying into a franchise. For more cliche recipe-formatted reviews, buy my book "cliche recipe-formatted reviews of derivative businesses"
craftygirl / July 19, 2013 at 04:46 pm
@mindflayer...if its just so easy to start up an original store with curated and great items why hasn't everyone else done it? why haven't you? why be so negative?
theoadorno replying to a comment from MindFlayer / July 19, 2013 at 04:50 pm
How to Write a Spiteful Blogto Comment!

- have a WiFi connection
- be a c*nt

yum replying to a comment from 4ChanApologist / July 19, 2013 at 05:47 pm
I want to give them money for the bear in the second photo

(sorry i had to)
Mind Flayer / July 19, 2013 at 06:10 pm
@craftygirl missed it's not easy to start up an original store - it's easy to start up a derivative store.

remember, you must follow the recipe instructions. no substitutions. @theoadorno clearly understands this.

Also! hav you looked out the window? I am seriously distracted by the weather at the moment. Apologies if the wifi cuts out and i cannot reply in a timely manner.

Laura / July 19, 2013 at 06:44 pm
I'm a little sad about this. There are already so many shops on Roncey selling pillows, design gee gaws, organic products and condiments - those stores, coffee shops, and trendy restaurants. Enough already! What the street NEEDS is a good stationary shop, in my opinion.
E. Toby Coke / July 19, 2013 at 07:08 pm
I have no snark for this girl and her store.

But that dude in the striped undershirt should at least TRY to look disinterested and disgusted at having been dragged in there by his girlfriend. He looks like he actually gives a damn! How emasculating.
Franny / July 19, 2013 at 07:30 pm
HAHAHAHAHAHA at the person who expressed sadness over this shop because they really want a local stationary shop. I think the shop looks wonderful and I love seeing people do what they love! If you want to snark it just means that you're unhappy with your own choices. Open up your own shop!
PS / July 19, 2013 at 10:12 pm
Another stuff store.

PS / July 19, 2013 at 10:14 pm
..and how much is that turd-bear in the first photo?

kipik / July 20, 2013 at 08:27 am
Charming, well thought out and owner seem adorable. Love the stuff and those woven basket cat carrier (?) are an awesome idea!
Cory replying to a comment from Laura / July 20, 2013 at 09:34 am
A new stationery shop? Move to Milton, please!
Anne / July 20, 2013 at 11:42 am
This store is perfect. To all the snarkers: have you even been in it? Not a "stuff store" at all. Everything is useful, beautiful, responsibly made, and intentional. You won't see a basket of 8 dollar door knobs or stupid crap that other modern "general" stores have. Speaking with the owner yesterday, she comes from a small town and has always wanted to have a community shop that reminded her of that. This store is completely unpretentious and welcoming and I love it. I'm looking forward to the workshops!

@Mindflayer Maybe Urban Outfitters is a derivative business, but what is that term anyway? Is a coffee shop a derivative business? Is a bookstore? How about an organic food store? Or a bakery? Or a stationary shop? You seem to be forgetting that General Stores have been around forever, and so has everything else. At least this store is unique.
Donna / July 20, 2013 at 03:04 pm
@Anne are you seriously asking if Toronto coffee shops are a derivative business? This store may be cute, but it is not unique in any way. Looking at their selection of goods, the majority can be found in other similar businesses in the surrounding area which is too bad because it just adds to the duplication and staleness of small businesses in Toronto. The owner has tapped into that middle of the road perfectly nice safe twee style that Toronto loves supporting so I'm sure she'll do fine...yawn. Whatever we do Toronto, let's not try anything new.
Laura / July 20, 2013 at 06:11 pm
Franny: 'If you want to snark it just means you're unhappy with your own choices." YES! Exactly! I'm unhappy with the choices on Roncesvalles. I'm unhappy that if I need to buy any paper or cards or office or art supplies I have to get in my car and drive to some place like Staples, which is a Mitt Romney-funded mega corporation that I'm loath to support. If there were such a store on Roncy I would go in and buy something every week. On the other hand, pretty gift shops like this one, or Scout, or Eco-Tique or the Mercantile, or The Green Light District, only draw gift trade.
Roncesvalles isn't a tourist strip for travellers who need to find unique momentos to bring back to their home towns - it's a neighbourhood high street, and ought to have a variety of stores and businesses. I sincerely hope that Likely General is amazing and maybe the owner is so lovely that she'll build a loyal customer base. But I am worried for all these duplicate stores.
As for Cory who says "move to Milton" as far as I know, Milton has no Town (see Shelly Town's very urbane card shop at Bloor and Brock), or Valhalla, or Above Ground. And neither does Roncey. I'm just suggesting to all the people who are reading this thread and are concerned about the neighbourhood, and seem to either run businesses or are very friendly with local merchants, to think about what's missing. Not what's already here.
Suzie Queen / July 20, 2013 at 07:30 pm
Laura....has the heat gotten to you?! Roncey Village is fantastic and you can bet that it is full of neighbourhood folk who like to shop locally and YES, tourists, afterall, it's Toronto and it's July in case you haven't noticed!! If you are so hell bent on stationary, head on up to Staples or find a dollar store in your hood and buy your paper there! You are too quick to snark.
Laura / July 20, 2013 at 09:41 pm
Oh fuck off. My hood is Roncey, I explained why I don't like Staples, I have A/C, Dollar Stores sell cheap junk and I have my share of carefully curated baskets and pillows.
cjg / July 21, 2013 at 01:39 am
Some of the comments on this thread are thoroughly idiotic! ('Turds' and 'snarking'. Use your words people.) I hate all of these discouraging, unfair and borderline bullying remarks. Leave her alone. She is a first time business owner who sources products that aren't available in other shops or even in Canada yet.

Since when is being innovative a prerequisite to starting a business? So she didn't invent The LongPen, big whoop. It's a beautiful store that sells beautiful things and will make money doing so.

Dear Laura (imagine I am writing this to you on hand marbled tissue),

First world problems: I have too many baskets and pillows. There are too many gift shops and book stores and bakeries within arms reach. Damn all of my access.

A stationary shop in an 1100 square foot space in a village that mostly serves the people who live in it (except maybe on weekends) isn't a lucrative business (unless the Roncey mom's are planning to unleash their inner Virginia Woolf and start a revival in the dying art of letter writing). The Bead Junction vanished in the middle of the night (literally) because like paper, beads is a niche interest. Hop on your scooter and roll down to the Paper Place, you'll be there in fifteen minutes tops.

cathie / July 21, 2013 at 12:24 pm
Well good luck to her. And give her some credit for pushing forward and making her dream happen. Hope it is very successful for her. (And Laura, telling someone to f-off is rude. Try to be a better person, please).
Lauren / July 21, 2013 at 06:36 pm
I've been in twice since it opened and bought three items already. Fantastic store and the girl behind the counter is super sweet. Best of luck!
Mai / July 21, 2013 at 08:28 pm
Came back today with a pack of girls. This store is a breath of fresh air and although it seems to always be packed, the owner is incredibly sweet and attentive. I watched her say hello and have little conversations with everyone! She even knew the returning customers names (including mine). Perfect shop, thank you thank you thank you.
Mandy / July 22, 2013 at 12:27 am
Looka nice, but....same old same old. General stores existed becaus they carried necessities user one roof for a low price. Essentially, convenience stores of the past. A general store that carries "pretty, handmade, etc" items only reinforces the fact that they mythology of the past is more attractive than its reality.
K replying to a comment from MindFlayer / July 22, 2013 at 01:22 am
There is nothing "Magic Pony" about this shop at all. It's not cutesy and doesn't carry cartoon kitsch. It's quite refined and most of the items aren't available in other Toronto shops. I encourage you to visit before preaching a recipe that will fall the minute it's out of the oven.
Nik / July 22, 2013 at 04:23 am
I don't really understand the sincere flack this shop is getting. The easy thing to say is "if you don't like it, don't visit". However, that's a bit dismissive and silly. If I was a sculptor, jeweler, magazine publisher, etc I'd love to have my products alongside the stuff in this shop. Ronces is a great area, and I'll definitely pop in next time I'm nearby. It's not a big deal. No harm.

Quick tip though: if you don't drink, then you might not be impressed with the opening of a new bar in your neighborhood. You might eve think "another fuckin bar, herpaderp". You might even type a lot of unprovoked nonsense. It still doesn't mean there's is anything inherently wrong about a person who has always wanted to own their own bar, and proceeds to open one.

I know that last paragraph was a bit douchey, but this isn't the end of the world.
Rick / July 22, 2013 at 10:10 am
This hipster nonsense has to stop, do these iditos realize how absolutly retarded they all look?

Now there is a store that sells this junk????

Gaurenteed this place is deadpool in 3-6 months. Hipsters dont spent money because they dont have any!!!!!!!
CM replying to a comment from Laura / July 22, 2013 at 10:41 am
What is your deal? Hop on a bus or walk up to the junction from Roncy and get art supplies and stationary at either Articulations or Above Ground and the best flippin card store in the city is Scout. I live in the junction and I pop over to Roncy for various things that don't exist up here. You can venture outside your neighborhood without having to drive to staples. Seriously - why is it this store's fault you can't buy stationary 5 minutes from your house? Is this really the end of the world? You live in a great hood. Stop being so entitled.
Likely General / July 22, 2013 at 02:22 pm
(I suppose it's about time to chime in... my nerves)

So.. hello!
I am not one for confrontation and reading these comments (after a long while of resisting) has proved interesting. I've received such a wonderful response in person, from my community and beyond, and I truly appreciate each supportive comment listed here. It's a shame when a few angry commenters momentarily squash something good before even taking the time to understand what it is. I believe that in order to make accurate assumptions about a person or thing, you must know the person or thing quite well- and so I can sigh some relief that these few posters must not know me (or the shop) at all. Everyone tries a few things before they realize what could build a happy and fulfilling career for themselves. Music is my passion, but the shop, the daily interactions and the sense of community so excites me. I worked very hard to make this a possibility for myself and others. I would like to support friends and artists making amazing work. It's as simple as that.

I grew up in a small city that had a wonderful music/art support system, and so perhaps Likely General is a small extension of that. I have a personal relationship with the majority of the artists and designers in my shop. I love their work, their ideas, and their passion, and I want to support them by giving them a home in a different community that would appreciate some new-to-them ideas and designers. Most of the artists and designers featured in the shop have yet to establish themselves in Roncesvalles and I do offer many products that aren't available in other shops or even in Canada.

I thought it was perhaps obvious but maybe not: The title "general" stems from the fact that I simply do not wish to pigeon hole myself by limiting opportunities for growth within the business. I am very excited about the potential of the space. The upcoming and ongoing workshops offer a chance to connect and bring closeness between designer and consumer, and I think this is incredibly important (plus, it's always nice to learn something new while meeting a few new faces).

Laura- I do understand your frustration. I'd love an art supply store in the neighbourhood! I am always willing to research customer requests and I could surely bring in more stationary supplies. I'm not sure if you are looking for art supplies in general, or specifically stationary, but Scout is on North Roncesvalles too and they have a insanely wonderful card selection. Also, maybe you'd like to partake in a workshop at the store? I know it's not the same, but the first is bookbinding and you might find it interesting. Upon customer requests, I've begun the process of bringing in specialized inks and notebooks, so please check back or feel free to email me personally.

I'm not trying to change the world here, I am just trying to create a new space to learn and grow within the community that I have lived and worked in for years, the community that I really love and consider "home". If you still have a problem, maybe I can try to articulately squash them in person- come and have a popsicle on my stoop, anytime, my treat.
Likely General replying to a comment from E. Toby Coke / July 22, 2013 at 03:17 pm
He does give a damn. He actually built nearly every fixture in the shop along with another strapping fellow- not to mention a 3 day refinish of the floors. Your comment is incredibly uncalled for, in more ways than one.
maash / July 22, 2013 at 03:31 pm
Wooowww... so many terrible comments! People are so insecure.

Unlike all the complainers and haters, I actually visited the store yesterday. And it was lovely!

A nice balance between home necessities and gifts, all at a lower price points than you would find at other similar stores. Light, airy, friendly.

And I'm totally eyeing that bear poof!
carolyn replying to a comment from Rick / July 22, 2013 at 04:46 pm
1. Check your spelling. (I'd call you a retard but I'm more apt to use words like philistine or ignoramus). 2. The products in Likely General aren't just for "hipsters" (whatever that even means). And isn't true, by popular thought, that "hipsters" do have money -- their parents'. She's going to make a killing. Plus, I'd rather spend $44 at Likely General to smell like oak moss than spend another minute reading posts written by people like you, who I imagine smell like considerably old eggs. You reek, buddy.
Lauren / July 22, 2013 at 11:34 pm
I just want to extend a big thank you to Likely General (Brooke) for supporting artists like myself. As an emerging water colour painter, I can truly attest to how difficult it is to get your name out there and it's people like Brooke who's honest intentions and considerate devotion gives people like me a chance to keep doing what matters most.

Furthermore, like the majority of artists, I do not create to be cool but to express myself in hopes that the end result inspires my community and makes them feel good.

Anyways, STAY HAPPY people and always try to be a nice person no matter what.

Clara replying to a comment from Lauren / July 22, 2013 at 11:46 pm
A store with taste, quality and imagination thrills me to no end. Welcome to the neighborhood Likely General! Can't wait for your book binding class!

Heidi / July 23, 2013 at 08:02 am
Guys!!! It's STATIONERY not stationary.
Likely General replying to a comment from Heidi / July 23, 2013 at 11:31 am
Ah! Best post yet :)
Sarah Magwood / August 21, 2013 at 01:07 am
Unlike every one of these unjustifiably negative critics, I know what it’s like to be a young business owner and I think Brooke is doing a great job. It takes an incredible amount of bravery and determination to open a retail store, especially without a business partner; it’s a huge financial and emotional risk. Likely General is welcoming, beautifully edited, and wonderfully supportive of local creativity. Brooke carries fantastic Toronto brands – some I already supported and many others that I’m excited to have now discovered – as well as a rounded selection of international lines. Not only that, every one of the brands she carries is ethically produced and that makes her shop more unique than most. You have no idea how few business owners care about sustainability as much as the bottom line. I chatted with Brooke today and she totally impressed me. If you people invested nearly as much time in your curiosity and your cruelty – if you actually visited the shop – you’d be embarrassed.
Angela / April 28, 2014 at 02:10 pm
This store is lovely. I've just moved to the neighbourhood and I cannot wait to check this place out!

P.S. I can't understand what ever brings me to read the comment section of this website. It's utterly disgusting how awful and shameless people are. If you don't like something, then don't go there, don't give it your business and move on. How pathetic is it to leave nasty comments about a shop and make snide remarks and assumptions about the owner.
Amit khurana / September 20, 2014 at 03:54 pm
I visited this store today and it was ok. Not awful but the merchandise is quite weak and lacklustre. I find these kinds of stores honestly generic and find it quite amusing how such store owners and customers alike feel they themselves have such unique and sophisticated taste! Eye roll!
This is the type of store that can be readily found in places such as Williamsburg, Hudson Valley, Portland etc etc. This store is perfectly acceptable on the retail scene but there isn't that extra special bite that separates it from the others!

I work in the design industry and have built an international design company so I think I know what I am talking about.

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