The top 5 shops in Mimico and Long Branch
Ask anyone on the strip of Lake Shore West between Mimico and Long Branch - the area is swiftly changing. Once primarily industrial, the area is becoming increasingly residential, and Humber's recent expansion (and addition of student residences) has added a younger element to the neighbourhood. Some of the businesses flourishing in the area capitalize on their far-flung location by catering directly to the community, while others offer products so specialized and unusual, folks will come from all corners of the city (and even the province) to shop there.
Here are 5 shops on Lake Shore West between Mimico and Long Branch that are worth seeking out.
This combination cafe/record store offers the best of both worlds. The locals come for coffee, pastries, and a good chat; the collectors come for the racks and racks of new and used CDs and vinyl, and stick around for the drinks. The rock-centric atmosphere is amped up by the selection of music memorabilia (check out the Ronnie Wood self-portrait and wire sculpture of John Lennon), the concert films on the store TVs, and the working jukebox from the late '50s that greets customers at the entrance. Local musicians play live on Sunday afternoons.
Community Roots Bookstore
If you've ever wanted to get lost in a massive pile of books, go for a long browse through this tiny, bursting bookstore. Novels and cookbooks are the top sellers, but owners Mike and Natalie tend to favour stocking non-fiction books about politics and the military There's not much of a filing system, and what doesn't fit on the shelves is piled up in stacks to your knees. There are also used DVDs and video games for sale (and a shelf of used video game systems). Books hover in the $1-$5 range, with newer releases going up to $9 or so - go digging and you're sure to find some treasure.
La Strada Espresso Machines
La Strada's sunny storefront is packed with espresso machines aimed at the home buyer, from brands like Saeco, Gaggia, deLonghi and Jura. They also carry an array of European espresso brands; their claim to fame is their exclusive deal to distribute Ciccho d'Oro, a low-acidity Swiss espresso ($14 for a 500g bag) in Canada. If you splurged on one of those high-end espresso makers back in the day, they'll fix your machine right up - La Strada carries replacement parts dating back years for the brands it sells.
To The Pointe
True to its name, this dancewear store specializes in pointe ballet shoes for dancers of all ages. Owner Kathleen Baillie, who herself danced for 25 years, saw that many vendors didn't have the know-how needed to give customers a perfect fit; now, dancers from all over the region flock to her store. There's also a selection of leotards, skirts and activewear from Canadian brands Ainslie and Karma (young dancers' moms, Baillie says, often end up picking up some yoga pants for themselves).
Pendragon is about as old-school a comic book store as it gets. No T-shirts or merch here: Just shelves and shelves of new comics, vintage titles, graphic novels and trade paperbacks. What draws collectors from miles around are the drawers full of vintage DC and Marvel titles, many priced at around $10-$25 (though a few Holy Grails are locked up behind glass). If you're trying to keep up on newer titles, buy yourself a membership ($10 annually, $30 lifetime) and the staff will set aside whatever you'd like as soon as it comes in.
Even though it's not bike season (for most of us) right now, I couldn't resist including these two shops.
This one-stop bike shop's claim to fame: It's the only bike shop located directly on the Martin Goodman trail, a long-haul cycle route that spans from Niagara Falls to the Quebec border. On summer days, when the garage doors are open, groups of cycle tourists will wheel their rides right on in. The shop focuses mostly on hybrid commuters ($400 to $1500) from brands like Fuji, Devinci, Raleigh and Felt, as well as some road bikes and kids' models; there's also all the accessories you could ever need, including cute Bikecap bike seat covers from Holland ($25).
Oxygen Bike Co.
Oxygen carries a bike for just about everyone, whether you're looking for a mountain or road bike, you're a daily commuter, or you're a kid just hitting the road for the first time. The selection ranges from $400 to $4000 for a higher-end model, and the vast majority of rides are from Canadian companies like Norco, Miele, Opus and Rocky Mountain. As a bonus, they offer a price-matching guarantee and free gear and brake adjustments for the lifetime of your bike. (There's also a spinning studio in the back, with classes five nights a week.)
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