Explore this dynamic west-end Toronto neighbourhood for unique fashion, lifestyle and foodie finds.

The College Street stretch from Bathurst to Ossington streets is a pedestrian-friendly strip with some of the city’s best cafés and restos. Nestled between an endless selection of places to dine are some of Toronto’s best independently owned stores. 

In spite of one or two forays into the hood by chain stores, Little Italy remains a “shop local” haven, where indie store owners greet their regulars, and you can find everything you need in just a few blocks. 

On a snowy winter’s day, bundle up and bring your reusable tote to check a few items off your holiday gift list — or kick off the new year with well-deserved splurges. Check out these eight great local shops for distinctive mementos, wellness goods and more! 

Shop local (really local)

Red Pegasus is your one-stop shop-Toronto hotspot, packed with cards, homewares, bath and body products, jewelry and other accessories. Pretty much anything you can dream of can be found on the shelves of this little store! And by supporting this independent shop, you also support local companies like Lisbeth Jewelry and Skipping Stone Soap. 682 College St.

Curate your life

Arguably the most sartorial shopping spot in Little Italy, Monocle Shop, Toronto brings the magazine’s style to life. The quaint yet curated storefront showcases the full range of Monocle products and the magazine-cum-lifestyle-brand’s latest collabs reflecting its latest edition and aesthetic. Readers should pick up one of their guides to far-off destinations and “gentle living.” 776 College St.

Feather your nest

Ranging from small accessories and soaps to statement furniture, Ziggy’s at Home offers a fresh look at home decor and design. This contemporary store has calming scents, colourful glassware and accessories to help you create a functional yet dapper home. This store’s green offerings include home fragrance product refills. 794 College St.

Go into full bloom

Add a bit of colour to your home on even the coldest winter days at Botany Floral Studio. Show someone you care by giving them fresh blooms, a small succulent or a tabletop terrarium chosen from Botany’s selection of flowers, plants and gifts. Or treat your own #cozycorner with an everlasting bouquet of dried bunny tail grass in hues like soft mauve and raspberry. 626 College St.

Tip your hat 

Karyn Ruiz of Lilliput Hats is one of Canada’s finest milliners. Drop by Ruiz’s showroom and atelier to learn how each Lilliput hat is handmade using precise traditional techniques. Most famously, Ruiz’s intricate feather-trimmed leather designs were worn by Gord Downie during The Tragically Hip’s final tour. Trade your toque this winter for a classic wool beret. 462 College St.

Treat your BFF

Shop locally for the furriest members of your family. College Street’s Pet Uno stocks a selection of accessories, food and treats for dogs, cats, birds and rabbits. Gone a bit too wild frolicking in the park? Get your four-legged friend fresh and fancy again by booking them into the Pet Uno Grooming Spa. 675 College St.

Engage and inform

Open from Tuesday to Saturday, The Gorilla Store focuses on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) educational items, including gifts, books and learning kits. The store also offers curated product and book guides based on grade level and curriculum, to encourage independent scientific learning and to supplement school study. 609 College St.

Treat yourself

Step out of the cold and into the warmth, peace and tranquillity of Health Hut. This luxurious little boutique makes it easy to shop for products that are good for both you and the environment. Wellness and self-care are at the heart of every item in the store, from adroitly curated books on personal growth to locally crafted silk eye masks and skincare. 786 College St.


Getting to Little Italy:

Take the Line 1 Yonge-University subway to Queen’s Park station, then catch the 506 College streetcar westbound to Bathurst Street.