Born and raised in Toronto, Desiree Girlato is the owner of local Dundas West jewelry shop, Armed. With five-and-a-half years of business under her belt, her outpost has remained one of the constants on the ever-changing strip in the span of those years. And with her apartment located just above, it’s safe to say, she knows a thing or two about the ‘hood.
Whether you’re new in town or exploring the area, take these tips from a local on how to spend a day on Dundas West. Here’s how Desiree Girlato suggests spending your day:
Rise and Shine
Every good morning starts with a relaxed stroll to your favourite coffee shop. I’m not the most loyal coffee drinker, so I like to mix up where I stop based on the day of the week. My usual go-to is The Tampered Press (256 Crawford St.). They make the most amazing ciders and chais, but the best is the Chaider, which is a fusion of both. BLESS (best of both worlds). If I’m really taking my stroll seriously, I’ll head to Jimmy’s on Ossington (15 Ossington Ave.) for regular coffee or a Medium Medium (medium blend and size).
Once you get a good caffeine fix, it’s time to take to the streets. Dundas West is low key some of the best shopping in the city. It’s the kind of shopping a local would have to tour you through, because it’s less obvious than the Queen West strip just south of us. If I had to start from west to east (west is the best), this is how I’d spend my money accordingly.
1575 Dundas St. West
In a perfect world, I’d stop in to get my hair done everyday before hitting up stores. Luckily, my go-to salon on Queen West has found a home on Dundas West and it’s a dream come true (I never have to leave my street!). I have yet to be by the new salon, but the opening party in April is going to be one hell of an opener. A little secret about the new space is the marble full service bar – you heard it here first.
1518 Dundas St. West
Yes, you’ve heard about them and probably not here first; but Province Apothecary has some of the best facials in the city and some of the best skin care I have ever used. My next buy from them is going to be the eyebrow serum, which will hopefully turn my barely there brows into something that are #goals-worthy (everything is for the ‘gram).
1410 Dundas St. West
It’s too much that I willingly follow them on Instagram, because I don’t think they have ever posted anything that I don’t end up obsessively coveting immediately after. They have some of the best pieces in high fashion at a price I can actually save for. In reality, I’ll never have the self-control necessary to save for a brand spanking new Gucci, but VSP comes in for the save with bags that range for around almost half the price. A necessary mention is also the beautiful store layout. As a store owner myself, I really appreciate boutiques that create a unique and inviting space, while carefully merchandising all that good good
Shaw Flowers & Gifts
1068 Dundas St. West
Just in case you missed it, people are obsessed with plants, and you’re probably one of them (I am too). The woman who runs Shaw Flowers & Gifts, along with the rest of her family, is truly a spiritual being, completely connected to all the plants she grows and sells. I go in frequently and we have rather long chats about what goes into growing the perfect plant (hint: it’s not water or sunlight), and how the technique of spreading love and good vibes in your environment is really the key ingredient for anything to thrive. Go get some green in your life and shower it with love, and I promise you, you’ll have NO BAD DAYS.
1024 Dundas St. West
Which brings me to my store...Not only is it next in line, but we have a newly installed sign in-store that reads NO BAD DAYS. It’s fresh from the recent renovation, and I think it’s worth checking out. Okay, maybe I’m biased because it’s my store, but in all fairness, we do have some pretty sweet jewelry and some NEW NEW collections for Spring and Summer that I just made. If it’s not the jewelry that brings you through our doors, it’s likely the selection of shades lining the front window that caught your attention. We have been known to bring in some of the flyest shades on the block, with new shipments arriving weekly.
So now you’re starving and you need a mid-afternoon pick me up. It’s time to stop for some food
244 Claremont St.
I’m well aware my navigation has steered us a block north of Dundas, but California Sandwiches is not to be missed. The classic veal sandwich is basically heaven on a bun or if you’re Italian, an accurate homage to Nonna’s home cooking. I always forget that this gem is only a few blocks away from me, but when it does cross my radar, it’s like hitting a mini lottery.
Naked Beauty Bar
889 Dundas St. West
Your belly is full, you’ve got a good outfit, and your face is fresh as *bleep*. Time to get your nails did at Naked Beauty Bar. This place is no frills, straight to the point with some of the best playlists I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to while getting my nails polished. The ladies that run the shop are awesome and so are all of the talented staff that work there. They have monthly nail design specials and usually have walk-in space available, which makes it even harder to just walk by.