Featured Shop : Blue Banana in Kensington Market

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In my previous post (here) I wrote about a nice afternoon spent shopping and eating in Kensington Market with my old friend Stella.

I showed her one shop that I especially like called Blue Banana Market, located at 250 Augusta Avenue (just south of College on the west side).

I can’t think of another place that is quite like this store. Basically, it is a huge hall divided into many small booths, and each booth is set up like its own little shop. You’re welcome to just go from booth to booth and chose what you want. Then you pay for everything at one central check-out desk. I have been to a similar type of place before, but only for vintage/secondhand things, but in this case the things for sale are new.

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Something that makes the shopping experience particularly enjoyable at Blue Banana, (aside from the extremely wide variety of things to choose from), is that since each booth is not individually staffed, you can look around without that awkward moment when you walk away without buying something. I always feel uncomfortable giving a vendor false hope for a sale at more traditional Farmers’ or Craft Markets, where the person selling the goods is standing right there. I had to do it last weekend at a Flea Market after looking at some jewellery handmade by a teenage girl — I felt so badly looking at all her things laid out in front of her and then leaving without buying something. I’m sure I have no reason to feel like that though because, of course, you can’t buy everything, but still, I find the lack of individual shopkeepers for me to disappoint to be a plus when browsing around this place.

Stella liked it too, and ended up finding a nice pair of jeans and a new purse.

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I picked up some beeswax tealight candles by Cheeky Bee Candle Company. I’d been looking for these since we only burn beeswax candles inside nowadays, after I read that they purify the air as they burn instead of polluting it like more common paraffin candles do. They’re quite a bit more expensive – I got these 10 tealights for just under $20 with tax – but being the allergic type, I’d rather pay more for good air and light a candle less often. That said, we burn a lot of candles outside but I’m not so picky about those.

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While we bought things for ourselves, a walk through this emporium of interesting goods will undoubtedly give you lots of gift ideas. There are so many fun and useful things on offer.

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^ Only in Canada? ^

Thanks very much for checking out my post. Hope you had a great weekend (albeit an extremely wet one if you’re here in Toronto).
xo loulou

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Posted in Kensington Market, Shopping in Toronto | 4 Comments

Hanging Out with Stella from the ‘hood

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I recently got to spend some time with my oldest friend, Stella. She and I go back a long way, having grown up in the same neighbourhood, (which was just outside Toronto).

I first met her when she began dating my brother in high school. They split up, but, with my brother’s good wishes, Stella and I remained close. Aside from Nick and my parents, she is probably the person who knows me the best. And what I always see in her eyes is warmth and love. I feel the same way about her.

Over the years, we have had many adventures together, including a trip on a lifetime travelling throughout Greece and to Amsterdam. Until about three years ago, when she and her husband moved out of the city, we used to see each other all the time. We often went to the movies together, and her moving away is probably the main reason I’ve only been to the cinema a few times in recent years.

I’ve certainly missed having her an easy subway trip away, and was happy for the chance to get together with her when she was in town on Tuesday last week.

At her request we went to Kensington Market. Regular readers will know that I spend a lot of time in this area since Nick and I do much of our fresh food shopping there, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to go there with Stella. There is so much more to do in the market than shop for food!

We walked the many small colourful streets, popping in and out of the clothing and gift shops and talking all the while.

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We went to one shop that was so good that I’m going to do a follow-up post about it. You can see us carrying bags from it, in these pictures.

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We knew we wanted fish tacos for lunch, but the place we had on eyes on, El Trompo, was packed.

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We could have waited for the crowd to clear, but we moved along, remembering having seen another place advertising the dish. We did end up eating delicious fish tacos, but in a place that was more cafeteria than quaint restaurant, so I skipped taking pictures.

After lunch, we continued shopping. We both found gifts for people in this place.

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Before it was time for Stella to go, we stopped in at Dolce Gelato, for a cold sweet treat. The extent of choices of gelato was almost overwhelming … everything sounded so good. We both went with a cup that contained two kinds – caramel and mango for me, and blueberry cheesecake and pink grapefruit for Stella.

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Following goodbye hugs, I walked home happy to have seen my good friend. By the time I arrived there was an email waiting for me, vowing that next time it could not leave it so long between visits.

Thank you for reading. I hope you’re having a great week so far.
xo loulou

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Posted in Kensington Market, Streets of Toronto | 2 Comments