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Fashion & Style

Toronto malls in need of makeovers: Lawrence Square

Posted by Robyn Urback / May 10, 2011

Lawrence Square TorontoI knew I'd meet you along this journey, Lawrence Square. Your shiny blue exterior was luring me in, like a hummingbird drawn to sweet, sweet nectar. Of course, your nectar is discount makeup and affordable footwear, but delicious all the same.

To get to the bounty, however, one has to somehow navigate the seemingly impenetrable Lawrence Square Parking lot. Equally dangerous for both cars and pedestrians, this innocuous-looking lot can easily prove perilous for those failing to look both ways. This time, though, I made it inside.

Lawrence Square MallBeing in such close proximity to Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Lawrence Square must distinguish itself in some functional way. It does that through its anchor stores (Zellers, Canadian Tire, and Fortino's), which offer necessity shopping instead of just luxury. But that doesn't mean, however, that you can't get yourself something nice while stopping in to buy some milk.

There's Turquoise on the main floor, a ladies boutique offering the best in flowy, frilly, '90s brown blouses on sale for $9.99. And Boardwalk Shoes, also on the main floor, selling a table's worth of brown men's loafers for $19.99. Yes, a whole lot of the merchandise is displayed on tables.

2011510-lp-shoes.jpgA quick ride up the escalators, past the woman reading Romans by the salmon pink railing, and you'll be at Lawrence Times Square, where you can pick out a watch from an assortment of different collections. If memory serves me correctly, this shop used to neighbour a designer socks outlet (yet, designer socks), but that space has since been boarded up. Fear not, though, Dollarama is poised to take over the space.

If you're in the market for makeup, Cosmetics Warehouse Perfumery is right next door. Among the haul offered there is $1 nail polish, $2.99 Maybelline lipstick, and a variety of products by a company called Kleancolor, proving once again that literacy is not necessary to run a successful business.

Last stop is the food court, complete with flicking fluorescents, a remarkable McDonald's lineup, and a curious juice bar/Jamaican beef patty hybrid stand called Juicy King.

LAWRENCE SQUARE ROUNDUP

  • Anchor store: Zellers, Canadian Tire, Fortino's
  • Quality of shops: Like Orfus Road meets sidewalk sale
  • Most unique feature: Consistently working escalators
  • Average age of patrons: Patrons?
  • Quality of food court: Avoid if seizure prone
  • Need for makeover: About 20 years ago

2011510-lp-coming-soon.jpg2011510-lp-empty.jpg2011510-lp-fashion-city.jpgPreviously in this series:

Discussion

53 Comments

laurie / May 10, 2011 at 09:40 am
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nothing i have seen here is remotely as bad as the galleria mall at dufferin and dupont.
Chinatown Fried Rice / May 10, 2011 at 09:41 am
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I knew you were gonna pick Lawrence SQ for your next visit. Where else are you gonna go? honeydale mall and Gerrard SQ keep being mentioned. If you are willing to go to Honeydale, why not go to the ultimate ghetto mall, Central Parkway Mall and Rockwood Mall in Mississagau, its only a few minutes more of a drive.
Chinatown Fried Rice replying to a comment from laurie / May 10, 2011 at 09:44 am
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gallaria mall is bad, its like so far from the road with the enterance to the parking lot being a zoo and then mcdonalds just blocks the view from the street
Al / May 10, 2011 at 09:49 am
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It is in dire need of a makeover but won't get it because it is in limbo pending the Lawrence Heights renovation plans. The current plan calls for extending Marlee through the area and demolishing the mall. The owners have not yet agreed.

As for getting in and out, it's easier to enter from Blossomfield and drive to the back.
YouLost / May 10, 2011 at 09:55 am
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Why would anyone ever be on Lawrence Ave. W. to begin with.

Parker / May 10, 2011 at 10:01 am
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I used to live a bit south of this mall, and only went there to shop at Fortino's. Lawrence Square is unspeakably depressing. I called it a loser mall then...it's still a loser mall now.

Woodbine Centre should be on this list. If it wasn't for the indoor kiddie amusement park, it'd be toast, I bet.
Lawrence West / May 10, 2011 at 10:02 am
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Si Vous Play Sports! Is that still there?

I look forward to this new series on malls. However, if you look on the bright side, it's that these spaces offer a chance for entrepreneurs (often immigrants to Canada) to open retail businesses. I remember seeing a CBC news feature on strip malls in North York. They may not be eye-pleasing or provide the most appealing shopping environment, but many of these malls contain stores providing unique services with loyal customers and ties to the community. Not sure if Board Walk Shoes or the warehouse perfume stores fit into that description, but maybe there are other stores that do (like Si Vous Play!).
Saurabh / May 10, 2011 at 10:04 am
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Cloverdale mall on Dundas/East Mall & Centrepoint mall @ Yonge/Steeles also need a makeover.
fattest replying to a comment from YouLost / May 10, 2011 at 10:04 am
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I know right? nothing goes on north of Bloor anyways
Janet / May 10, 2011 at 10:04 am
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This mall makes me sad, and the only time I go there is to have a watch repaired at Times Square. The owner is an expert watch maker, repair prices are good, and he'll negotiate on prices on the new ones!
True! replying to a comment from fattest / May 10, 2011 at 10:07 am
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Nothing of consequence, thats for sure.

Amen, brother.
zxc / May 10, 2011 at 10:09 am
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I went by this mall twice a day everyday on my way to the subway for 9 years and not once have I ever stopped and gone inside.
jake / May 10, 2011 at 10:17 am
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Although the mall does suck, Zellers, Canadian Tire, and Fortino's are nothing to sneeze at. They are convenient stores in a mostly residential area which is nice.

Sheridan Mall, (Jane Street and Wilson Avenue) is pretty bad, and then you have the ones at jane/finch.


Xavier replying to a comment from Lawrence West / May 10, 2011 at 10:19 am
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Yup, its still there
oKoK / May 10, 2011 at 10:38 am
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Not to mention the horrible pet store "Pet Time" at Lawrence Square...seriously that place needs to be raided or condemned or something, it is awful. Before I decided never to shop there, I once saw a sickly baby dwarf hamster (way too young to be sold, btw) just laying ON A SHELF. It had escaped the tiny glass aquarium it shared with 10 other hamsters, and looked like it was about to die of dehydration.
Ryan L. replying to a comment from Chinatown Fried Rice / May 10, 2011 at 10:39 am
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Honeydale mall isn't worth making over. It's dead. Someone just needs to put it out of its misery. You can also add the Golden Mile mall to the dying list now that they've lost Zellers as their main anchor.

Rule of thumb: A mall can't survive with a grocery store as its only anchor. (While Walmarts and Zellers can also be damaging depending on the neighbourhood)

Anchors are supposed to draw people in and get them shopping at the other stores. How many people grab a load of groceries then feel comfortable trying on a pair of shoes while their raw chicken starts breeding all sorts of nasty things. In areas where people treat department stores (Walmart/Zellers) as their one stop shop for groceries and household goods, the effect is the same. In some extreme cases Walmart (though, for some reason not Zellers that I've seen - perhaps a lack of an adequate grocery section?) can speed up a mall's demise by drawing people out of the mall and into the Walmart.

It doesn't help that Walmart has a nasty habit of abandoning mall locations for larger superstores. A one-two punch of damaging the mall then pouring salt in the wound. With the damage done, it would be tough for any mall to lure a new anchor to replace the Walmart.





Pawel / May 10, 2011 at 10:45 am
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Lol! I grew up loitering at Lawrence Square. Lots of terrible mems. Also make sure not to miss the Parkway Mall - it makes Lawrence Square look classy!
Simon / May 10, 2011 at 10:46 am
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From some angles, it reminds me of Pickering Town Centre.
Ryan L. replying to a comment from Parker / May 10, 2011 at 10:47 am
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Woodbine mall seems relatively healthy. It has three large anchors, lots of chain stores and few vacancies. The amusement park part of it seems to be the least healthy. That's a lot of square footage that sits mostly unused for most of the week.
Sanches Abravanel / May 10, 2011 at 11:08 am
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The malls here are so nasty. Compare this to Westfield in White City in London. Blows chunks at mall in Canada. It's sad. They are so ugly here....even the upscale malls like Yorkdale. Sherway is nothing special.
J*town / May 10, 2011 at 11:25 am
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Who remembers Warden Woods?
stanthemanchan / May 10, 2011 at 11:25 am
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Why don't you guys visit Malvern Town Centre for the next one? You can get some cool pics from the ambulance and hospital after you get mugged when you pull out your camera.
Z replying to a comment from Saurabh / May 10, 2011 at 11:42 am
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When's the last time you went to cloverdale? It's not perfect, but they've made some big changes over the last few years. I take my grandma from time to time and it really isn't half bad.
Adrienne replying to a comment from laurie / May 10, 2011 at 11:48 am
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laurie,
I totally agree with you. Galleria is by far the worst eyesore of a mall in Toronto (besides Honeydale).
Darcy / May 10, 2011 at 01:08 pm
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I wonder if the Traviso Condos going in at Dufferin + Lawrence will help boost this malls patronage? I may so tho, we need more Fortino's in this city. What a great supermarket.
Michelle / May 10, 2011 at 02:02 pm
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I lived on Marlee for a few years, and that mall serves the area nicely. You can get all necessities there and it's across the street from the subway. I don't remember having problems in the parking lot though.
concreteheart / May 10, 2011 at 03:52 pm
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Consider checking out East York Town Centre. I worked there for about a year and it was one of the most bizarre malls I've ever seen. Also, do not eat in the food court. It's infested with mice.
Parker replying to a comment from J*town / May 10, 2011 at 04:08 pm
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J*town, you're dating yourself, remembering Warden Woods! I remember it too.

The big problem there was poor proximity to the subway station. You had to walk through Warden station, through an open-to-the-weather overpass, across two big parking lots to get to the mall. No wonder it folded.
Daniel / May 10, 2011 at 05:44 pm
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This mall is actually not that old....i remember when it was built. fortinos is good, but everything else is depressing.

hands down for galleria though...worst mall by far.

i think any mall with a zellers sucks.
Mike W replying to a comment from Michelle / May 10, 2011 at 06:29 pm
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+1 The Canadian Tire becomes a frequent place to visit once you start doing home or auto work. I'm glad it's there.
Sara replying to a comment from J*town / May 10, 2011 at 11:42 pm
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I LOVE that you remembered Warden Woods!
That mall was very depressing, not even the seniors who did their morning power walks around the mall could put life into it. May it rest in peace.
v79 / May 11, 2011 at 01:09 am
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Definitely a depressing place to visit. Si Vous Play Sports is the one and only reason to shop here. Cheap name brand sporting goods, with often ridiculously low priced clearance footwear. Occasionally other products like baseball caps can go for less than half the price of downtown retailers. The rest of the mall is pointless (although if you live nearby I suppose the Fortino's is convenient, although expensive). I always feel like I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere once I'm done at SVPS. Nothing to see or do, and forget about finding anything else of quality there.

P.S. Another deadbeat mall to check out (which I had the misfortune of visiting today): "The Shops on Steeles and 404"
brad / May 11, 2011 at 01:56 am
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The parking lot is always full, but the mall is always empty, 75% of the cars are the employees from the neighboring CIBC complex.
Chinatown Fried Rice / May 11, 2011 at 06:35 am
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all this talk about deserted malls. No one ever thought about Hazelton Lanes? Sure it's in yorkville but its just badly designed and always empty? How can this be in the richest shopping area in T.O.?
Ian / May 11, 2011 at 07:57 am
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I second the request for North York Sheridan Mall. I live right near it, and it is a very strange place. Some of its highlights are a salon that never seems to have a customer, a dark unpleasant underground food court, a discount tool store that only sells terrible quality equipment, an unnamed store that sells three things: african movies, necklaces, and inkjet cartridges, and a general air of "not-giving-a-damn" that sees most stores not even open until a half-hour after shopping hours start.

Oh, and it's the most hideous thing from the outside, with the street-facing side designed to have multiple store-front tenants, but it has been re-configured to be windowsless and blank in most places.
Erik / May 11, 2011 at 08:54 am
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If you want to take a trip back to the 80's just visit the Galleria Mall at Dupont and Dufferin. It's grossatating.
Jeremy Wilson / May 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm
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I look forward to the feature on Gerrard Square. Truly a dirt mall.

My rule of thumb is, if it doesn't have a bookstore, it's a dirt mall. Dufferin Mall? No bookstore. Galleria? No bookstore.
Badbhoy / May 12, 2011 at 11:56 am
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BlogTO already did an article on Honeydale a few years ago.

http://www.blogto.com/city/2009/05/nothing_sweet_about_etobicokes_honeydale_mall/

From there Dundas and Burnhamthorpe through Mississauga is the Dead Mall Riviera. Cloverdale, Rockwood, Central Parkway, Wolfdale, South Common, etc.
iSkyscraper / May 13, 2011 at 12:37 pm
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In light of the Target deal, which is going to have a simply massive impact on the Canadian retail landscape, you might want to add a category in your reviews of downtrodden malls along the lines of "Likelihood to be rescued by Target?".

In the case of Lawrence Square, I think this is a near certainty for a Target, as it is the closest existing Zellers to high income neighbourhoods like Lawrence Park. Expect to see plenty of upscale SUV's stopping at a renewed Target-equipped Lawrence Square to do some chic-cheap shopping on the way out to Yorkdale. This mall's future is bright thanks to the big red bulls-eye.
Kaz23 / May 14, 2011 at 08:16 pm
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Such an awful mall!!!

I agree with the comment on the terrible pet store! The first time I went there I walked out of the store crying. The kittens were crying, they were living in filth.
Darren / May 14, 2011 at 09:12 pm
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The pink handrails need a new paintjob. 99% of my visits to this mall involve the Canadian Tire. I wish it had a garden centre.
Nicole / May 18, 2011 at 10:20 am
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hahah I was at this mall once and there was a fire in a garbage can in front of the main doors and NO ONE was doing a thing about it. Sketch..... great for international phone cards though!
Mel / May 18, 2011 at 11:19 am
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I used to go to Bathurst Heights SS in the 80s, and this mall just opened. It used to be Simpson's warehouse..You can tell they just build a mall into warehouse..they didn't tear down the building. I used to walk there for lunch. Went there recently place hasn't changed that much! Still the same..plus the traffic Lawrence & Allan is probably one of the worst in the city. Wouldn't mind if this place got demolished.
Glory / May 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm
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The mall is a joke and the quality of the stores is not the greatest either...the gym is one of the best places in there but the equipment needs to be updated/maintained just like the rest of the mall. Reminds me a a bad flea market!
TT / May 25, 2011 at 11:34 am
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OMG this is hillarious!!!!
I grew up in Dufferin Mall and it nothing pleasing to the eye when I was a kids. Look at it now? Much better!
My grandmother would always take me to Galleria, I can't help but laugh on how ghetto this mall is! lol! I have not idea why its still open?!?!?!
I remember when Lawrence Square opened and it has not changed ONE BIT!!!!Now I work in the mall OMG! Parking is a mess and the place is a dump. You should check out the gym here! YUCK!
North York Sheridan Mall is a complete dump!I use to work by there too!
TT / May 25, 2011 at 11:36 am
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Another places to check out are
1.Cross Ways across of Dundas Subway
2. Shoppers World Brampton
DUMPS! and the people WOW CLASSY!
Cory replying to a comment from TT / May 24, 2012 at 05:24 pm
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The crossways yeah it needs a make over but it has the BEST Korean food I've had at a store called Mr. Yummies but the crossways and Galleria need a make over but i heard there shutting down the galleria for renovations
me / January 5, 2013 at 05:30 pm
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Lawrence Square is a depressing mall. I wish the authorities would rescue the suffering animals in the pet shop. Whenever I pass by those poor animals, I want to cry... Every single store in that mall needs to be renovated.
narrah / January 31, 2013 at 11:35 am
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Well Bramalea City Centre has been declared a "tourist attraction" - I mean, really - that is ridiculous.
But because of it's "special" designation, sanctioned by
Brampton City Council, employees at the stores have to work
on Family Day and at Christmas the stores stayed open until 11pm -
don't want to piss off the buses of tourists offloading in the parking lot - don't you know they come from all over the world to see Bramalea City Centre -
dakywa / March 25, 2013 at 01:46 pm
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Stumbled across this thread by mistake while looking to see if Target had opened here yet. Like some bad cult movie, I read all comments (lol). Si Vous Play is amazing, and about the only reason I go there for anything retail. That said, I have an advisor in the professional offices on the second floor. It doesn't matter how many times I've been there in the past, I get LOST each and every time in this crazy labyrinth of bridges and poor / confusing directional signage that is enough to make this grown man want to burst into tears. Thankfully, someone that works in the building always seems to rescue me before I'm about to lose my marbles. Every mall has its own unique "vibe". This one seems to be to make patrons want to hit a bar or liquor store after they have left it...
Discusted / June 29, 2013 at 11:51 pm
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There is always fido if u life assistant manager and employs hitting on u for sex, and showing u naked pix of girls. Gotta love the ghetto of this mall and the ppl that work in it. Makes women run out instead of run in
Timothyrobisnson99 / January 31, 2014 at 10:45 am
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This mall isn't that bad. I couldn't understand why you gave it such harsh criticism when there are a lot of other malls which could use a harder beating.
Bob replying to a comment from Chinatown Fried Rice / March 12, 2014 at 08:06 am
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Rockwood isn't bad, except for the ghetto Coffee Time which sits patiently while waiting to transmit Salmonella to a nearby patron. Central Parkway, on the other hand, is in a critical need of a makeover.

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