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Fashion Stores

Common Sort (Parkdale)

Posted by Staff / Posted on September 29, 2010

Common Sort TorontoCommon Sort, a two-and-a-half year Leslieville staple, welcomed a West-end sister to the family this month. The second-hand clothing shop expanded to a second location in Parkdale just two weeks ago. Near-new gingham men's shirts, designer denim, flawless silk scarves and vintage leather pencil skirts neatly line the walls of the massive space.

Common Sort TorontoBut Common Sort isn't a vintage shop. "We keep getting called vintage", laments owner Nicole Babin. Nicole and I sit in the new location on a vintage couch overlooking a wall of shoes, many of which are also vintage. I can see how people can make the mistake. But on closer inspection, a large percentage of the up-for-grabs goods are just great barely-used items with high-end labels.

Common Sort TorontoI spot white Escada jeans for $50 and near-mint Miu Miu suede peep-toe pumps at a steal. An immaculate emerald Liz Claiborne shift dress ($28) has my name all over it. Nicole insists, however, that she's not overly caught up on labels. The criteria? She has to love it, and of course the items need to be in excellent condition (I don't spot a single sweater with pills). "We'll even take H&M," she adds. The racks are neatly stocked with wearable styles and fabrics (not the usual over-abundance of polyester), and even a few "fun" pieces. A Creamsicle-orange jumpsuit has the makings of a really bitchin' Halloween costume.

Common Sort TorontoClothes and accessories are gleaned the usual way, by combing thrift stores for great finds. Nicole earmarks Mondays (her only day off) for this task. Common Sort operates a fairly unique Buy-Sell-Trade business, too. Customers can sell clothing to the store for straight-up cash on the spot or store credit. Approximately 40% of the Leslieville stock is derived from this channel, but the concept hasn't quite caught on in Parkdale yet.

Common Sort TorontoThe space is huge, by Queen Street retail standards, approximately four times the size of the first location. With so much more space to work with, Nicole envisions greater possibilities for the store. She and her staff brainstorm event ideas, from art installations to clothing swap parties. "We have the space to carry more basics, too," she says, referring to ample racks of tees and simple sweaters.

Common Sort TorontoWhile I don't mind a good scavenge, many feel overwhelmed by the tediousness of thrift shopping. So for my friends who don't share my love for the thrill of the hunt? Common Sort has done the dirty work, eliminating the junk and even sorting pieces by size and colour. The clothes are also steamed. A girl after my own heart, Nicole obviously believes that presentation is paramount in retail success.

Common Sort TorontoWriting by Dayna Winter. Photos by Dennis Marciniak.



EM / September 30, 2010 at 10:18 am
I viewed this entry when it was just the first photo. It looked like the Grinch's wardrobe!
cityslicker / September 30, 2010 at 12:50 pm
love the title of the link. 'A new place to shop in PARKDALE?'!?! OMG OMG OMG OMG
will be checking it out though... i love vintage shopping in the 'ghetto' parts of town.
Trops / September 30, 2010 at 02:49 pm
Does anyone in Parkdale wear new clothes?
Mir / September 30, 2010 at 03:15 pm
bed bugs?
middle management / September 30, 2010 at 03:30 pm
I think steam kills bed bugs no?

baba boo ie!
Common Sort / September 30, 2010 at 03:36 pm
@Mir We steam all clothing that comes in the store and always have. We are pretty vigilant about it.
Bed bugs have made their appearance in new clothing retail locations such as Abercrombie and Nike. It isn't only a second-hand clothing issue.
LuminousFlux / May 10, 2011 at 09:43 am
I hope this store does well because Parkdale would benefit
'COMMON SORT' is a brilliant name; love the sparse interiors
Keep it that way! Less is more... It does not exclude which is key to bringing in a new community- inspired enterprise.
Trying for a Canadian 'Buffalo Exchange'(US chain of stores that buy and sell used clothing). Unfortunately, there just doesn't seem to be enough 'trendy youngsters' or mid-aged folk looking for that certain vintage bag to wear with their Club Monaco black and white outfit- not in T.O (yet)
Can't say it was worth attempting to sell my near new brand name clothing and a couple vintage items; Refused most, offered VERY little cash. They encourage trade as it is obviously more beneficial to them.
Until they are able to buy less conservatively; they will not acquire the traffic needed to keep the word of mouth going about this merchandising concept that will hopefully take off.
I will continue to visit this store and hope they start selling some sports wear (like vintage track jackets).
Good Luck Common Ground!
LuminousFlux / May 10, 2011 at 09:45 am
I mean 'Common Sort'! LOL
(good luck to 'Common Ground' as well)
whateves / December 12, 2011 at 10:12 pm
Horrific selection and rude staff and what's with the funky smell in this place?
uluminous / January 9, 2012 at 06:35 pm
Kudos for trying but not all that original. BUFFALO EXCHANGE in the US seems to be the chain of stores they are trying to mimic but I'm not sure Parkdale will have the market let alone Toronto.
Staff are a bit arrogant.
gardengnomesrus / September 1, 2012 at 02:01 pm
The Common Sort store is a great idea especially in our poor economy. To Trops, about people wearing "new clothes in Parkdale". What's with the "mightier than thou" attitude?
Try and dismount from your high horse. If you have not noticed, Toronto is still in the middle of a recession.
In 1970, the middle class composed approx. 76% of the Toronto population, now the middle class makes up about 24%. We had only a few "ghetto" areas and now we have very many. People like you should walk in well used shoes. There is obviously no empathy in your small minded and uninformed opinion. What comes around, goes around. So, in time, this could happen to you financially.
parkdale daisy replying to a comment from whateves / September 13, 2012 at 11:05 pm
Ann / April 28, 2013 at 06:18 pm
I stopped by today and found the staff rather rude, with a condescending attitude.
prism / April 25, 2014 at 06:39 pm
horribly. curated. period.

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