Back in February of last year, I did a little blog about a new kitchen boutique that had recently opened in the St. Clair west neighbourhood of Toronto. Called Clay, the place had (as I put it) a "neat indie aesthetic" and that hasn't changed. It's still a very cute place, and it seems it's doing quite well. One of the owners got in touch awhile back asked me to pop in again to see how it had changed and grown over the past couple of years and I finally got around to it this week. My verdict: the shop is a success.
When I first wrote about Clay, I said that it felt a little sparse and very IKEA-y. Sparse is definitely no longer accurate. The store is now very well stocked -- not packed -- but there's plenty to see. It's definitely handy to have a place like this in the 'hood. I feel like I can shop for a wedding or for a last minute gift without going out of my favoured 5 block area, and that's big for me.
Clay is a place where you can get both big ticket items and small stuff. In other words, it's very option-friendly. For example, if you want to splurge, Clay has a good selection of Le Crueset:
At the same time, the shop stocks cool and quirky stuff like this adorable squirrel nut cracker, for about $26. (Push down on the tail and the mouth opens. Put the nut in the squirrels mouth and press down on the tail to crack. Fun! It was hard to resist buying this little guy.) 
I also love that the shop has a warm, neighbourhood vibe. Since it's a neighbourhood store, that seems appropriate. Check out the mantle on the back wall:
Finally, check out this interesting line of cookware Clay has stocked:
A little research tells me that while this line looks new, it's actually been around since the early part of the 20th Century. Since the line is imported from France, a lot of the information about it is in French, so I can't tell you much more except that it seems super eco friendly and it can go from stovetop to oven, which is always handy. Maybe it'll be the next old-to-new boom like the aforementioned Le Crueset? Who knows. Clay is one of the only places I've EVER seen carrying it. 

Anyway. Yay for Clay! That should be the title of this post. Having to go to a mall or a big box store makes me want to shoot myself in the face. It's places like Clay that let me avoid that sort of thing, and that's why I love it.

Congratulations, Clay. Keep on truckin'. 
 
 
Aw, man. It's been way too long between reviews posts. Time to get back to it. 

And with that, I bring you a little piece on a new vintage shop that opened recently in my hood (St. Clair West/Hilcrest Village). 

The shop's called Gypsy and it's FABULOUS.
Gypsy is located in the same space as another local store that died recently (always a bummer). If you live in the neighbourhood, you might have noticed the recent changes to the facade. It used to be beige/tan. Now it's a wine/plum/burgundy colour. 

Initially, this change made me nervous. Burgundy brings back memories of my 9th grade fetish for crushed velvet baby-doll dresses. 
I was wrong to worry. The building's colour, and the romantic signage perfectly suit the moody, eclectic interior. The shop is dark and sumptuous, like a Parisian boutique you found hidden in a neighbourhood you only visited by accident. (In other words: it's awesomesauce and full of personality.)

On the day when I was there, I didn't have my camera, so I will rely on shots pilfered from the shop's own Tumbler page (linked via the shop name above).
What I love about it? It's PACKED with stock. This is one of the most well-stocked vintage shops I've ever visited, in fact. It's a little overwhelming. Though the space is not enormous, every square inch is filled with treasures, from boho dresses to leather boots, to jewellery, to collectibles to oddities. My friend and I stayed for two full hours and I don't think we managed to see everything.

And in general, stuff at Gypsy is well priced. It's a mid-range pre-loved kind of place. Here's a quote from the shop's Tumbler, describing the prices for some of the pieces in a recent window display: 

"The jean dungarees on the tall model go for $30, which is a bit higher than the average for our jean shorts. Her 100% silk peasant blouse top is $38, and all the silk ties she’s adorned with (for belts and roses) - as well as all the silk ties in the store - are $24 each."

All those prices are fair, I'd say. Well below mall-range retail, but pricier than Goodwill, which makes complete sense when you factor in the work it takes to curate a nice vintage collection.

The shop's owner, Donnetta Galloway, seems like a lovely lady, with lots of experience. She told me she used to do custom bridal back in the day. (Her partner apparently owns one of the newish cafe's in the 'hood as well - NOIR - so shopping at Gypsy makes me feel like I'm supporting TWO small local businesses, which gives me the warm fuzzies.) 

I didn't buy any clothing (not that I wasn't tempted), but I did snag a decorative piece that I absolutely love: a brass, moroccan-style pendant that I could easily convert into a light fixture. For the time being, it's hanging from the ceiling in my office. 
Look past the bad lighting. It's great, right?

Anyway. Do check out Gypsy if you're in the hood. I couldn't be happier to see such a cool little shop making a go of it. 

GYPSY (found objects)
762 St. Clair Ave. W.
Toronto, ON m6C 1B5
647-346-1205