Shinola is Toronto's destination for built-in-America products that all come from Detroit's manufacturing and retail company of the same name. They specialize in high-end, traditionally crafted watches, bicycles, and leather goods all made by folks who live and work in Detroit.
It's pronounced Shine-ola, kind of like canola or Mazola, named for an old boot shine company. Each product is certainly the definition of a "well-oiled machine."
The first question Shinola always asks is, why not build a watch factory in Detroit? They've set out on a mission to prove that anything really can still be made in America by Americans, even something as precise and luxurious as a fine wristwatch.
The items are pricey, so don't go in with your wallet out unless you're celebrating a serious occasion or have $850 to blow on the best watch you'll ever own. Fortunately, with this comes a limited lifetime guarantee.
Since watches are the star of the show here, Shinola houses a custom watch bar, where you can select your face, band, everything down to the mechanics inside.
The bikes that hang from the ceiling and gleam on high shelves are just as mind-blowingly expensive, retailing for $2950 a pop, but man, are they beautiful. You spend that kind of money on a bike that is entirely handcrafted, from the frame which is made in Wisconsin, to the rest of the bike's assembly in Detroit.
As if you needed more artisanal products in this towering shop to lust after, sumptuous leather goods like bags, laptop cases and phone cases are out of this world.
Even a mini backpack, however, will set you back $795, and the phone cases are $90 - $95. They come in mostly neutral colours like brown, beige, and black.
If you can't even afford a phone case but still want a taste of that Shinola magic, there are always their journals. Hard or soft cover linen journals retail for $14 - $28. Shinola will even monogram your purchase for you for free at their in-house station.
That's what Shinola does best: put the manufacturing of their products and the proud people who do it front and centre. Though the absence of the Sam James Coffee Shop that used to hold court at this corner is deeply felt by the community , they needn't wander far to find the new James location right across from beautiful Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Shinola has displaced the coffee shop as well as designer store Stussy to take up the full space of the building at the corner of Ossington and Queen, joining the increasing number of designer stores in the neighbourhood like Tiger of Sweden and Gravitypope .
Photos by Jesse Milns