The Best Card, Paper and Stationery Shops in Toronto
The best card, paper and stationery stores in Toronto keep snail-mail alive in a digital world. When a thank-you is just too big to be expressed on a Facebook wall, or the lyrics to the next masterpiece too profound to be penned on the back of a napkin, or an event too exclusive for fill-in invitations, the city's best paper purveyors have just the right card or journal or custom solution for the occasion.
Is there anything better than a postmarked envelope sliding in through a mail slot? Or maybe your thrill is in the sending, recalling with a tinge of worry a particular Seinfeld episode while you lick the possibly-toxic envelope glue? My correspondence of late has incorporated a few throwback qualities. I've returned to real paper, handwriting, and coil notebooks. I've contemplated monogram mailing seals. I covet high-end refillable pens. Of course, I still waste several hours a day (earmarked for productive activities) messing around in the online social networking space. But, I've embraced sending letters and cards again.
Finding the right sentiment isn't always easy in a Hallmark universe, where card captions are cheesy and forced, conceived by a copywriter who, perhaps, has never actually been in love. Toronto's stationery shops snub emotionless drugstore greetings, carefully editing an assortment of blank art cards (when you know just what to say) and poetically simple messaged cards (when you don't). In addition to cards, the best also stock a curated blend of home office gear, art supplies and unique gifts.
Here are the best card, paper and stationery stores in Toronto, as voted by readers of this site.
Note: This list was previously published on August 8th, 2008. Comments below made up until September 27th, 2009 are in reference to the old list. We've purposely kept the archived comments here because we believe they (mostly) add value to this topic. If you don't want to have to wade through all of them, simply hit the "sort by newest first" link at the top of the thread.
This is DIY paradise. The Paper Place is a one-stop shop for paper, cardstock and invitation-making tools, drawing crafty brides to this West Queen West locale for supplies, inspiration and advice. Japanese papers, how-to books, and adorable stationery necessities fill the rest of the huge colourful space. I love poking through the novelty goodies like the animal-shaped paperclips. Design-challenged? Enroll in one of the shop's many paper-themed workshops, like "Paper Flower Making". More »
The Papery will have the perfect card for any occasion – trust me. The selection is intense, even for such a small space, and it may overwhelm, but it’s worth a browse. Print-it-yourself papers, including recycled styles, are on the menu along with party supplies, frames and paper accessories. The Papery is a good bet for albums and scrapbooks, with some gorgeous hand-bound Japanese-style books. I love the recipe organizers and the full selection of Moleskine notebooks. More »
Essence is a Montreal stationery chain that has made a name in Toronto as a key player in the custom invitation business, offering an impressive library of designers and in-house printing, embossing and cutting. The DIY set will also love the spectrum of fine papers and envelopes, ready for at-home printing. The rest of the shop is dedicated to three main areas – greeting cards and gifting, office supplies, and party supplies – with a smattering of general stationery dotted throughout. Best bets are the cupcake kits, Kate Spade notebooks and the punchy Semikolon office line. More »
The Write Impressions owners pride themselves on carrying the very best in stationery lines. From high-end writing instruments to designer invitation suites like Vera Wang, the assortment is truly breathtaking. During its 30-year life, the business expanded its paper offerings to include gifts, home décor and more recently furniture. Write Impressions stocks paper goods and office doo-dads by Italian company Cavallini, my favourite line of whimsical and retro stationery. More »
I could spend an afternoon giggling over the nasty greeting cards and kitschy B- movie postcards at Valhalla. The narrow West Queen West shop is mostly a paper and party destination, but some great gifts are up for grabs, too. In addition to the usual suspects - Pantone mugs and Wild & Wolf gadgets – expect to find some great retro toys like Mr. Potato Head and Slinky, along with novelty items like the How to be a Villain book and Andy Warhol Inspiration Box. Best bets are MoMA pop-up cards and DIY CD-packaging kits. (moving to 791 Queen West this month) More »
I don’t initially think of Red Pegasus in terms of a paper store. I guess I’m so distracted by the oodles of other offerings, that I had (until now) ignored the great card selection and journal options. The College Street shop is a go-to for quirky kid gifts and affordable costume jewellery, but now I won’t forget to pick up a hilarious card to complement my purchases. Best bets are recycled journals featuring vintage book covers and patterned laptop cases. More »
Midoco might be best known for their understated art supply shop vibe – a welcome respite from the polished two-storey Loomis franchises. But, it’s one of those places that always has just the weird little thing (a pirate hat, a wooden yardstick) I’ve needlessly scoured the city to find. Every time. From impressionist-painting umbrellas to archival paper to book lights, the Bloor shop (and its little sister in the Beaches) carries a rotating mix of oddities and crafty goods to supplement its staple business – quality professional art supplies. Midoco might not have a name in the stationery business, but an eclectic mix of greeting cards, gift wrap and seasonal party supplies fills an entire aisle. More »
Another big gun in the custom invitation biz, Yorkville’s Paper Things welcomes couples and parents-to-be to its rear consultation room to browse wedding and baby announcement options in custom designer catalogs. The retail portion of the store is crammed (neatly) with high-end party supplies (think houndstooth napkins), feminine journals, and home-office supplies like modern floral fabric bulletin boards. Candles and other giftables (somehow) manage to find space on the shelves, too. More »
With The Papery just around the corner, it’s a miracle the St.Clair and Yonge intersection can support so much business in stationery. But while its neighbouring competition make take a slightly more serious approach to snail-mail supplies, Paperboy is doing it with a wink. Humourous cards dominate here, and get along swimmingly with novelty and kitschy giftware. The mix teeters on crazy, with glittery confetti and chocolate and finger puppets mashed into the same display. More »
The newest on our list, Pixel Print joins Kid Icarus on that fine line between printer and paper shop. Kinko’s might have saved your butt during a 2am next-day-thesis-presentation meltdown, but when time is more easy to come by, Pixel Print offers printing services with an attention to design detail. Something the 16-year-old Kinko’s clerk might neglect. In the shop, a bright modern Dundas and Ossington space, pretty notebooks, handmade cards and an in-house designed stationery collection line the shelves with plenty of breathing room. More »
Magic Pony (now it its new location) might not be top of mind when thinking of great stationery stores in the city, but I give it big points for uniqueness and cute-factor in the small selection of paper goods. While the West Queen West gallery/shop seems to do the bulk of its business in “designer toys” (ahem, non-sexy playthings for adults) and gets the most attention for its art exhibitions, it does a healthy little business in stationery, too. I love the library card greetings, Little Otsu day planners, and moustache pencil sets. More »