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Fashion & Style

10 "treasures" from Chinatown dollar stores

Posted by Staff / February 19, 2013

Chinatown Dollar Stores TorontoShopping in Chinatown is about dim sum — and then some. There's a lot more on offer than just dumplings and bedazzled Hello Kitty iPhone cases.The neighbourhood is actually a magic wonderland of incredible items, most of which cost $10 or less. A short trip to the spangley enclave can solve virtually any shopping need, with the added bonus of making it possible to avoid the Walmarts and Dollaramas of the world.

Nestled between the area's many fruit stands and restaurants, there are shops specializing in everything at once. From cookware to underwear, there's array of items is, in a word, dazzling. So much so that any attempt at an overview would have to be virtually encyclopedic. Let's not do that. Instead allow me to share 10 random discoveries from last visit to the dollar stores of Chinatown.

Panties (with extras!)
pocketed pantiesPocketed panties. Panties with pockets. The ultimate in stealth undergarments for only $1.50. Use it for keys! Condoms! Contraband! Coins! Whatever! Available at Chinatown Dollar Mart, 490 Dundas St W.

DurianFresh durians can be had for a mere $5.99. Beware though — these hedgehoggy fruits smell like death. They smell so bad, in fact, that they've been outlawed from public transit in Singapore. (You may want to avoid indulging on the TTC.) Available at Lily Fruits Market, 300 Spadina Ave.

Paper products
Chinatown Dollar Stores TorontoPretty paper. Use it to wrap a gift, and the recipient can recycle it into wall art. This stuff is far cheaper than what you'll find at The Paper Place and other similar shops. Available at B&J Trading, 378 Spadina Ave.

Incense galore
Chinatown Dollar Stores TorontoThis is the place to go if you need copious amounts of incense sticks for very little money (read: a few dollars). Potheads, yogis, New Age types, take note! Available at Chinatown Dollar Mart, 490 Dundas St W.

Japanese Dolls
Chinatown Dollar Stores TorontoThese Japanese dolls are painfully adorable. That is all. Available at B&J Trading, 378 Spadina Ave.

Hula hoops
hula hoopAvailable in either stripey-shiny or floral-shiny, there are hula hoops aplenty in this little shop just east of Spadina. Hooping is a summer staple activity, especially in the park (they also make great fort frames, just FYI). Available at Chinatown Dollar Mart, 490 Dundas St W.

Little bottles
Chinatown Dollar Stores TorontoAmazingly tiny bottles. Tiny. Amazing. Starting at $0.59. Make a necklace! Insert a miniscule message! The possibilities are endless. Available at B&J Trading, 378 Spadina Ave.

Chinatown Dollar Stores TorontoNeon + snarling wild animals = optimally ferocious T-shirt. And there's plenty more like this to choose from. Available at S&H T's Inc., 380 Spadina Ave.

Buddha heads
Buddha StatueYou can spread the zen in a multitude of colours by purchasing a porcelain Buddha head. Not to mention the lanterns. Available at B&J Trading, 378 Spadina Ave.

Chinatown Dollar Stores TorontoThis backpack is the kind of thing Urban Outfitters consistently tries to rip off, but is actually authentic (and at a fraction of the cost). Available at B&J Trading, 378 Spadina Ave.

Got a Chinatown dollar store find to share? Let us know in the comments.

Writing and photography by Sarah Ratchford



Paiger / February 19, 2013 at 08:32 am
Fun post!
Rob / February 19, 2013 at 08:44 am
Nice. More like this please.
Steve K / February 19, 2013 at 08:54 am
"The ultimate in stealth undergarments for only $1.00."

Um, it's clearly marked $1.50
Derek replying to a comment from Steve K / February 19, 2013 at 09:10 am
Duly noted and corrected.
Nik / February 19, 2013 at 09:32 am
Um, Steve, it is Chinatown...haggling comes with the territory.
Nina / February 19, 2013 at 10:25 am
Great post! Careful though--the durians are actually 5.99 PER pound, and as they typically weigh a few, the price can wrack up pretty high. Otherwise, indulge the foul stuff!
Sarah / February 19, 2013 at 11:27 am
I haven't been to Chinatown in so long and I only live a couple of blocks away. I should make a trip again sometime soon. Great post!
One Weird Tip From A Mom / February 19, 2013 at 11:47 am
genius inventions like the pocketed underpant is why china has remained strong for millennia
DurianLove / February 19, 2013 at 04:11 pm
Fresh durian certainly cannot be had for a mere $5.99 because they weigh more than a pound usually. Price says $5.99/lb.
Joey replying to a comment from Rob / February 19, 2013 at 06:27 pm
I agree with Rob (and others). More please!
Shteve K replying to a comment from Steve K / February 19, 2013 at 06:40 pm
"The ultimate in stealth anal commenting for everyone."

Um, that would be me: Steve K.
Fig / February 19, 2013 at 07:01 pm
Fun post!
Durian / February 19, 2013 at 11:31 pm
I tried durians before. They're actually not that bad. Some types are pretty good too! Seriously! I went to SEA and tried some of the durians during durian season over there. They barely cost anything. Love it!

-Said no non-Asians ever.
Christine / February 20, 2013 at 12:01 am
I began eating durian at a young age, so I don't really mind the smell or taste of it. Anyways, B&J Trading sounds like a nice little place. I'll definitely visit some time to check out the store; especially those little glass bottles. They could be used to make some crafts at home.
Michelle / February 20, 2013 at 12:38 am
Tap Phong on Spadina is a great choice for household items. Also check out the two malls for clothing basics and handbags. Red Sun Fashion at Spadina and Sullivan for amazing deals on accessories.
ashleigh / February 21, 2013 at 05:06 am
along with the paper products is joss money, burn for good luck. I usually take some at christmas time to burn in the fireplace with the kids at christmas time. Kids+burning things+money = hilarity.
tara / February 25, 2013 at 01:52 pm
Pretty much everything in this post is from one store...
Richard / September 24, 2014 at 09:14 pm
Whenever I pass by the "China Town Dollar Mart", pictured in the first photograph, I can't help but think of the Victory Burlesque Theatre, which operated under a variety of other names over the years, and which I'm sure has been written up in most likely more than one article on BlogTO. The China Town Dollar Mart sits more or less where the backstage of the theatre would have been, and when the theatre operated as a burlesque house, I can always imagine the raincoat types hanging around what is the entrance of the dollar store today, so they could hit up the burlesque dancers who were emerging from the theatre at the end of the shifts.

I've never been to the store, but I'm sure that the contemporary clientele is much more respectable than those gents who might have tried to get into the backstage area of the Victory Burlesque Theatre.
Batman / September 25, 2014 at 12:06 am
Love the name,

S&H T's Inc!

yoche / September 27, 2014 at 10:47 am
This is a great post! Would love to see more fun articles like this!
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