The Salvage Shop Toronto

Salvage Shop

The Salvage Shop is one of those reclaimed furniture shops where you can find an old toy train alongside a refined wooden mantle with hand-carved lions and accents.

According to owner Roy Clifford, though, hardware is the shop's specialty. While I, personally, don't get as excited about brass knobs as I do about a vintage, dime-operated pinball machine ($695), Roy talks about his hardware projects with great enthusiasm.

"Many people don't realize how expensive new hardware can be," he says as we take a seat on a pair of vintage stools in his Upper Beach showroom. "If they bring us their old pieces we can restore them totally and apply a new finish. They often look just as good--better than new."

Roy opened The Salvage Shop back in 2000 after working as manager of The Door Store in the Castlefield Design District. He wanted to start his own business, so he opened a shop at Queen and Leslie before moving over this way and, coincidentally, much closer to his home. Since then, The Salvage Shop has slowly been taking over this stretch of Kingston Road near Warden, occupying four commercial spaces and still busting at the seams.

The main showroom (or rooms, rather) is stocked with everything from old hooks and hangers, knobs, registers, and doorbells, lighting fixtures, mantelpieces, and beautiful solid wood furniture. Some items that stood out to me were the antique birdcages (stereotypical of most salvage shops, I know), the one-of-a-kind patchwork quilts (each priced in the $40 range), and an old rolltop oak desk with built-in nooks and shelves ($475).

The Salvage Shop's showroom also has planks of restored bowling alley lanes ($400/8ft slab), which is quickly becoming the coveted trendy material de choix for restaurant tables and bars, and a set of three school lockers priced at $1295 for whatever use some creative mind could cook up.

Roy next takes me to his storage space just a few doors west of the showroom, where, among other things, he keeps his collection of mounted butterflies. "Aren't these beautiful?" he says, kneeling down and sliding out a drawer of the colourful creatures. Roy reveals drawer after drawer, estimating he must have at least a few thousand butterflies in his possession. "During Victorian times," he says, "these were used at wall art. So a lot of movie people come and rent them out."

Movie industry folk have discovered The Salvage Shop for more than just its butterflies, though. We move a few doors down again to Roy's workshop where he shows me his assortment of eggshell fluorescent lights that are a favourite choice for horror flicks, and his collection of vintage toys that are often used as props. He then leads me to the back where he's working on his latest project; an old, green cabinet he's fixing up, leveling off, and for which he's adding a new top.

"I'm giving this 100-year-old piece probably another 100 years," he says, inadvertently summing up what The Salvage Shop is all about.

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