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Spotlight On: Cabbagetown South (2/5)

Last week I was really impressed to see all the cool boutiques and lounges sprouting up in the formerly unfashionable Dundas St. W. district. So I went looking for similar developments in the Dundas St. E. side of town. Cabbagetown South (the area bordered by Gerrard and Queen, between Church and Parliment) is categorized mainly by seedy restaurants, the equally seedy characters who hang around outside of them, and of course Filmore's. But I figured if Dundas St. W. could change, so could things east of Yonge St.

If you're looking for signs of life on Dundas St. E. it's not hard to spot Mini Bar (107 Mutual St.) with its bright red tented roof top patio. It's definitely an oasis of cool on a strip hurting for any sense of style. And seeing as it seems to be the ONLY place on Dundas St. E. to get a decent martini, it's sure to do well this fall. I definitely enjoyed my expertly-mixed mojito, even if the view from the patio isn't exactly scenic. I understand the place is not without its detractors, however. It seems there have been some noise complaints from the Merchandise lofters who should make up Mini Bar's customer base. Well, I always say, if you wanted things to be quiet, you should have moved to the suburbs.

Unfortunately, so far Mini Bar is the only hip place to take a chance on Dundas St. E., so I moved up to Gerrard to see what was happening there. The gentrification process seems to be moving a bit more quickly on Gerrard, undoubtably due to its proximity to Cabbagetown proper - the "haves" of the Cabbagetown area. I spotted a couple little restaurants, and then stumbled on two really great stores.

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First was Eclectisaurus (249 Gerrard St.), which features an eye-catching window display of vintage kitchenwares and glassware. The store was closed when I went by, perhaps due to the Cabbagetown Festival happening down the street on Parliment, or perhaps because of the rather unorthodox hours it keeps. But through the window I spied embellished vintage jean jackets, antiques and other great gift items.

Right next door is Foxy Boutique (251 Gerrard St.), another vintage store but with its focus on clothes. Foxy Boutique has been open for just over a year and a half, and offers up possibly the best collection of vintage shoes I've ever seen in Toronto stores, all great condition, a variety of sizes and totally up-to-the-minute fashion-wise. The racks are also packed with clothes, purses and other accessories, with jewelry cases featuring all the most-wanted items of the season: cameos, pearls, chuncky plastic beads and sparkly brooches. I caught up with the owner at her kiosk at the Cabbagetown Festival to ask about business on Gerrard St. She admits the summer has been slow, desperately so, after coming off a fairly good winter and spring. The last two weeks have been crazy busy though, and I'm not surprised. From what I saw, her store is a must-stop shop for fall fashion.

As I left Foxy Boutique I noticed two people hard at work in the empty storefront next door - not to be empty for long, I guess. Which is good news for South Cabbagetown. The area still has a long way to go, but redevelopment is definitely happening.


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