Courage My Love
Kensington Market favourite Courage My Love has been open since the seventies, and has won a loyal following among Torontonians looking for cheap vintage, exotic beads, exquisite jewelry from faraway lands, and off-beat trinkets.
I'd always passed over the place due its hippie vibe, but one loooong visit changed my mind for good. After appraising for the ROM and traveling the world, founder and co-owner Stewart Scriver started the shop in 1975 as an outlet for the treasures he brought back from his travels, and vintage lovelies.
He still travels for a good chunk of the year to Thailand, Mexico, Turkey, India and even Namibia (for its famous bead markets), leaving the management of the store to his daughter and co-owner, Cece. The pair's passion for the offbeat and finding the right item for everyone shines through in the store's diverse, one-of-a-kind offerings.
Jewelry makers can rejoice in the high-end beads, colored hemp, leather cording, and neat buttons that are made specifically for Courage My Love in Indonesia. Beaders can add some copper beads, tangerine grenades, black polka-dotted blue glass beads, African Amazonite, pink quartz, or bone flowers to their next project.
People who don't want to DIY can hit up the shop's jewelry stores--there's cheapie sterling silver rings and pendants, but also a wide variety of pricier pieces, studded with amber, coral, or turquoise. An elaborate, heavy, coral and silver necklace can go for $2400, but there are many more affordable pieces, like rings with chunky blue lapis ($220) or red carnelian ($68).
Vintage clothing is the other main draw here, with excellent prices keeping clientele coming back. One could find a salmon-coloured velvet cocktail dress for $60, or a pale green silk shift with a beaded neckline for only $24. More practical items include men's blazers for $20 to $30, dress pants for $25, plaid skirts for around $14, and sturdy thick silk dresses for around $25.
Such a mishmash wouldn't be complete with some retro home accessories, right? I bypassed the hippie staples of the Balinese offering baskets ($12-$20) and brightly painted coconut masks ($15) and instead looked upward to the high shelves crammed with wacky, gorgeous ceramic lamps.
There are pony lamps and panther lamps, along with many groovy colour combos, like pink with black squiggles, and dark green with gold sparkles. With treasures this awesome, I can see past the hippie vibe - I've seen the light and love Courage My Love.