Score fashion, decor and musical treasures in this east-end destination for antique lovers, vintage hounds and thrifting enthusiasts.
Brunchy, chill and eminently strollable, Leslieville is a laid-back neighbourhood in Toronto’s east end, bounded by up-and-coming Riverside to its west and the village-like Beaches to its east. Just north is dynamic Little India.
Part bougie, part boho, Leslieville is a mixed residential-commercial neighbourhood, and its main retail drag is situated along Queen Street East between Empire and Coxwell avenues. Queen Street East is home to cafés, tea shops, restaurants and bars, as well as the artfully curated boutiques and farm-to-table food shops that accompany gentrification.
Leslieville is also a destination for vintage and second-hand stores, where you can find everything from curios and antiques to retro clothing and accessories, even classic vinyl and pre-loved guitars. Here’s where to wander if you’ve got an eye for the past.
What this mega-thrift chain lacks in uniqueness, it more than makes up for in selection and pricing. A student and DIYer fave, Value Village has well-priced clothing, accessories, housewares and furniture for every taste. Chances are you won’t stumble across a steal of a Saarinen or a precious antique, but you will find easily navigable aisles holding affordable items ready for you to repurpose, upcycle or otherwise put your own spin on. 924 Queen St. E.
Beginner and expert axe-men and -women alike flock to Cask for pre-loved guitars, basses and performance equipment including amps and speakers, mixers, mics and other recording gear. With a selection ranging from affordable ukuleles (just grab one and head south to the beach!) to high-end collector’s items, there’s something for every musician’s budget. While some of the instruments are second-hand, the shop also carries new strings, straps and other essentials. 1054 Queen St. E.
While diffused in genre and period, this home decor shop offers a little bit of everything for lovers of design eras past. From freshly-painted French provincial side tables to working-condition Smith Corona typewriters, lovingly polished silver trophy cups to mint-condition mid-century modern bar sets, everything here has been selected with a discerning eye and cleaned up so it’s ready for your home. Love kitschy collectibles? Keep your eyes open for Star Trek plates, princess bookends and other porcelain memorabilia. 1120 Queen St. E.
If you’re a vinyl addict, get here quickly! A Toronto staple for classic rock (especially British Invasion and 1960s and ’70s experimental), blues, early R & B and jazz, In the Groove boasts an inventory of more than 40,000 records. Owner Sheldon Draper, who opened the shop nearly two decades ago, has indicated he has plans to close down—though no closing date has been confirmed since his summer 2019 announcement and the shop was still open at press time (January 2021). 1174 Queen St. E.
If you love digging for treasure—vintage Emilio Pucci owl-eye sunglasses or Scout paraphernalia, for instance—Gadabout is the boutique for you. With a focus on clothing, nostalgia, curios and ephemera from the late 1800s to 1970s, this neighbourhood fave is also popular with wardrobe, prop and set designers for local theatre and film productions. (#DYK: the southern end of Leslieville abuts the film studios and production facilities that have taken over the east-end Port Lands of Toronto, a former industrial area.) 1300 Queen St. E.
Getting to Leslieville
- Take the 501 Queen streetcar to Empire Avenue
- Or take the Line 2 Bloor-Danforth subway to Coxwell station, then the 22 bus southbound to Queen Street East