Meet 13 of Yonge Street's Retail All-Stars
A Postcity.com partnership
The Capitol Theatre on Yonge Street.
Post City X Yonge Street
Yonge Street is the main street of our community. Its shops are some of Toronto’s finest and its business owners are some of Toronto’s most exciting entrepreneurs.
Every year Post City Magazine runs a special section dedicated to these local shop owners who are as proud of the services they provide as they are of the community in which they work and live.
Here are their stories...
At a young age Sean McGrath watched his retailer father at the kitchen table buying shoes for his business. “He was a workaholic, respected by his peers and understood the importance of great customer service,” McGrath says. McGrath spent his summers working in retail at his father’s store, learning that proper fitting was equally as important as providing a memorable experience. At University he earned a BCOMM degree with the goal of becoming a retailer. In 1998 New Balance was looking to open concept stores and he jumped at the opportunity…but was denied, too young and inexperienced.
After a promotion within his job at Intrawest he reapplied and opened his first store at Yonge and St.Clair in 2000. New Balance is privately owned by the Davis Family, and like McGrath’s father, they too are customer focused; its about the fit, shoes from 2a-6e, sizes 4-20 and kids widths too. With all those sizes comes serious managing of inventory which initially was daunting.
Luckily with years of experience and a consistent team they have been fortunate to expand to neighborhoods around the city, Oakville, D.C. and soon Ottawa. “I want to thank them for their continued support, passion and candor,” McGrath says.
Paola D. Powell, Owner
3357 Yonge St., 416.322.0430
After graduating from fashion design school, Paola opened Paola Di in 1985, with her mother, Elsa. In a small space in Woodbridge, they began selling their own designs, as well as couture wedding and evening dresses. By 1989 the business grew and moved to the Yonge St. location. There they began selling ready to wear from Europe, as well as Canadian and US designers.
Over 20 years later, they are still here, because their keen sense of style, appeals to a large array of clients. Hand picking interesting pieces, from a vast selection of lines, keeps the store unique, and filled with many hidden treasures. Paola Di carries everything from jeans and tee-shirts, to long evening gowns. Accessories and shoes also play a very important role in finishing the outfit of a Paola Di customer.
They attribute their success to the personal customer service they give to each of their clients, putting together outfits that are appropriate and on the cutting edge of fashion. Canada’s Fashion Guru, Jeanne Becker has included Paola Di in her list of favorite fashion boutiques and Rita Zekas of the Toronto Star wrote “Intermix meets tres chic boutique in the south of France.”
Dr. Martie Gidon is a board certified Dermatologist, specializing in non-surgical facial and body rejuvenation. She is an innovative leader in Cosmetic Dermatology and is constantly searching for new treatments and products to offer her patients. With over 20 years’ experience, she combines her extensive knowledge in medical and cosmetic dermatology to create a natural, youthful appearance for her patients.
Gidon Aesthetics and MediSpa uses an extensive array of state-of-the-art technologies to achieve the best possible results in a caring environment. Lasers such as Fraxel, Clear + Brilliant and CO2 are used in combination with Thermage, IPL, Botox, fillers, Sculptra, or Selphyl PRP. An exciting new treatment is radio frequency microneedling to improve skin texture, laxity, acne scarring and stretch marks.
UltraShape is a popular body contour treatment. Medical grade cosmeceuticals are recommended to complete the comprehensive package. Dr. Gidon and her aesthetic team will create an individualized treatment plan to achieve a natural, refreshed look. The result is healthy, beautiful skin.
Creating slipcovers since 1994, Potato Skins specializes in made-to-order covers for any style and size of furniture. Owner Lisa Buckland recognized a need for quality designed covers to be made using a well-curated selection of fabrics. Everyone has to sit on something – sofas and chairs are definitely the focal point of any comfortable room. The adaptability of slipcovers offer a completely different look while still being easy to take off and wash. Whether your furniture has sentimental value; is tired and has seen better days; or is new and loved and deserves protecting - slipcovers have a place in any setting.
Our success has a lot to do with the great neighbourhood we are located in, and the many loyal clients that continue to come back to us to have more pieces covered. Customers appreciate the low impact on the environment by re-using existing furniture. A wide selection of outdoor fabrics is available to update decks, cottages, boat cushions and wicker furniture. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will help transform your dining chairs, ottomans, wing chairs, sectionals, throw pillows, bench seats, headboards – the possibilities are endless.
Sharon Crawford & daughter Lois, Owners
3236 Yonge St., 416.487 7287
Narnia Boutique is located on the west side of Yonge Street just north of Lawrence. The co-owners of this amazing little women’s boutique are a fantastic mother-daughter duo. Sharon Crawford and daughter Lois MacKenzie, say that the secret to their many years of retail success is caring about every single customer that walks into their store – her attitudes, personality, lifestyle and fashion. Sharon is passionate about both fashion and her clientele and states “It’s not only about what fits her or what the trends are. We follow the trends so that we can help each customer interpret them in her own way.”
From jeans to that little black dress (and everything in between!), Narnia offers an amazing mix of moderate to higher-end fashion, including trend lines like Fidelity, Sanctuary, and Velvet. 50% of their collection is made in Canada. As for the rest, you will find great lines from Europe and the United States. Narnia is your ‘go to’ boutique for great style! “We think buying fashion should be a fun, feel good experience!”
Her name is Angie and that sweet girl on her lap is her daughter, London. Like so many mothers had discovered before her, the arrival of her first born was life changing. London is the inspiration behind MTH, as well as being its number one customer and product tester.
“Shopping for London when she was first born was a real eye opener. Either I found gorgeous clothes that were made with the worst materials, or I found very safe products that were not so pleasing to the eye and London deserved better.” Angie wanted to be able to dress her own daughter & provide her with products that are natural and great quality. And so she embarked on the adventure of opening her own store that could deliver all the things she felt so passionately about: beautiful design, natural products, safe and gentle-to-the-touch clothes and toys — all ethically produced.
“I found a lot of beautiful lines in Canada, but as a traveler, I couldn’t resist in also bringing in the best from Scandinavia, Australia, South America, pretty much the whole world!”. Not stocking anything she wouldn’t have in her own home, it’s quite obvious how personal this store is to her. “I want to create a beautiful experience for customers, every time they visit."
Mike & John Corallo, Owners
3435 Yonge St., 416.544.9944
Brothers John and Mike Corallo bought The Coop, a staple of the Men's clothing industry for over 30 years in north Toronto. Then they moved it. When they decided to move The Coop from its original location to its current home at 3435 Yonge St., it felt like starting over. They got to design and build the new store exactly as they wanted it, to create a local neighbourhood shop that also feels like a destination.
There is no doubt The Coop is an independent shop with a wide product selection but John and Mike want their customers to enjoy every part of The Coop shopping experience. They strive to provide exceptional customer service – which includes free tailoring, wardrobe consultation, drop-off & pickup, coffee and lunch bar. They’ll even park your car for you!
John and Mike believe the secret to The Coop’s success stems from their ability to adapt to the changing times. By tailoring their services to their clients’ evolving needs over the years, the relationships they have maintained with their clientele have flourished. “Meeting new generations of clients, folks who bring in their kids to shop, has been exciting. It also connects us to our father’s barbershop, Corallo’s Hair Care. He has generations of families as clients as well!” says John.
“I remember that very first day when we opened in 1993, standing there behind the counter... I was as nervous as I was excited!” When Signa Computers was just getting started, their initial struggle was trying to convince prospective customers that they would be around long enough to cover their 1 year warranty period -- they managed to win them over, one customer at a time! 25 years later, they're still here and going strong.
“We have a loyal customer-base, and have continued to improve by adding rush service, in-home/in-office visits, remote assistance directly over the Internet, and now even provide help on evenings and weekends!” Back in 1993, Greg never imagined he’d come so far, or have so much fun dealing with the day-to-day challenges of running a small business and keeping up with the ever-changing technology that Signa Computers services and sells. “Doing what we love seems to come naturally, and we must be doing something right as our customers still seem to love us right back.”
Christina & Kelly McDowell, Owners
1260 Yonge St., 416.966.2662
CLEMENTINE’S, the go-to luxury fashion & lifestyle destination, located in the heart of Summerhill/ Rosedale, continues to expand its Concept shop. This atelier-style shop houses beautiful new lines from contemporary brands, including Iro, 3 x 1 Denim, PAIGE, J Brand, and Vince, etc. They also produce their own private label, CLEMENTINE’S x MEROTTO, a capsule collection of chic, modern fashion — all made in Canada.
In their Home/Lifestyle section, you will find that perfect gift, or must-have item- candles from Paris, artisanal wooden bowls from Boston, baby alpaca throws from Peru, and organic creams from Sweden — a refined collection of luxe home décor. CLEMENTINE’S continues to offer a very edited & expertly curated collection of luxury resale. This includes contemporary, New & Like-New designer fashion, handbags and accessories. This shop/ gallery also exhibits & sells contemporary art with rotating installations profiling local & international artists.
CLEMENTINE’S owner, Christina McDowell, and daughter Kelly, credit having a loyal community of costumers to their personalized relationship-based service, and their beautiful selection of products. Customers leave knowing they’ve made the perfect purchase for them.
Richard Librach Architect Inc.
Richard Librach, Owner
3414 Yonge St., 416.482.9224
Richard Librach Architect Inc. has been creating unique architectural solutions since 2000 to home and business owners across the GTA and beyond. RLAI prides itself on its close relationship to clients throughout the design and construction process. Inspiring clients to use a relevant personal starting point quickly leads to interactive three-dimensional simulations so that clients can immediately visualize their project. The firm offers representation at hearings and prepares construction documents to obtain building permits. Interior selections are offered as part of an essential service to provide design consistency.
Richard prides himself on offering a unique collaborative approach allowing his clients to be an integral part of the design process. RLAI takes a hands on approach working closely with the client throughout the many stages of the project and often finds inspiration from his clients and their diverse backgrounds and interests. Following his recent talk at Toronto's Interior Design Show, Richard’s passion for his process is now being translated to an intimate three part talk series from April to June this Spring. The first talk entitled “Designing Your Dream Home From The Inside-Out” kicks off in his Yonge Street Studio on April 4, 2018 at 7.30 pm.
Martha Grace McKimm & Andrea Hopson, Co-founders
1120 Yonge St., 416.926.1120
Founded in 2015, Hopson Grace is a lifestyle concept that focuses on the art of entertaining. Owners Andrea Hopson (formerly Tiffany & Co. VP) and Martha Grace McKimm (a retail + luxury goods PR exec) gave up corporate life to pursue their dream of launching their own business. Venture inside and you'll find a curated selection of items sourced locally and from around the globe for their beauty, craftsmanship and exclusivity.
The duo believes in mixing materials, styles and prices, considering it to be the key ingredient that leads to great style. Whether it's an Italian pewter platter, agate coasters from Brazil or an Ontario walnut salad bowl, one thing's for sure - you'll be hard pressed to find it anywhere else. Since opening, Hopson Grace has received wide acclaim and has become a go-to for anyonelooking to update their home, find a unique gift or register for their wedding. Hopson and McKimm, whose goal is to inspire you as you plan your next celebration or update your home, will be expanding this year, responding to demand from loyal customers as well as couples who are looking for a one-stop-shop wedding registry experience.
Pop Physique (Toronto)
Jody Watson, Owner
1560 Yonge St., 416.975.0123
Entrepreneurs Richard & Jodi brought Pop Physique, a fitness and lifestyle brand from LA to the GTA. Together they opened up Canada’s first Pop Physique in heart of Midtown Toronto. They fell in love with Pop while in LA and knew that their favorite fitness-focused city would too! “It’s our mission to have Pop be a fun place where everyone feels comfortable to try something new. A place that can change your day, so that no matter what happened, you can come to Pop and leave feeling like life is good.” Pop Physique offers an artistic approach to exercise. They offer 1-hour Barre and Pilates inspired classes and pair them with the perfect playlist to keep you moving. “It's hardcore, fat-burning and fun! Full-body muscles get strengthened and toned, while improving posture and core strength.”
New to the Pop Physique line up is Pop Yoga. Pop Yoga, originating in Toronto, is an athletic flow focusing on core engagement and moving with your breath to great music. Richard and Jodi credit their success to their love for the brand, and their amazing community. Customers new to Pop are welcome to try their first Pop Physique and Pop Yoga classes for free!
Alexia von Beck
Alexia von Beck, Owner
1228 Yonge St., 416.975.8615
Known for her unique linen clothing that is always timeless and elegant, Alexia von Beck’s work has always been in a league of its own even when she started to make her own clothing at the age of 13 in Santiago, Chile. At the age of 14, she started modelling and soon found that people showed more interest in the clothes that she came to work in than those she was paid to model.
After coming to Canada at 20 and then starting a family, Alexia opened her first retail location, a small atelier in Kensington Market, where her linen and leather became an instant hit. After one year she moved to the Queen’s Quay Terminal where she would hone her fashion consciousness with innovative textural colour and design exploitations of linen. After 10 years at the Queen's Quay, she closed shop and went back to Chile but returned two years later and the label Alexia von Beck was born at her present location on Yonge Street where she has been for 25 years. Alexia's secret to success is that she never wavered from her aesthetic vision. Over her 35 years in business, she has built a loyal following of customers. And at present Alexia is using linen, silks, cotton, wools and microfabric thus enabling her to cater to both winter and summer fashions.