honey, the neighborhood’s going to hell

walking down queen west this morning, i came across an unbelievable sight– and it was before i even caught a glimpse of this:

queen west fire

… it was this:

… and then further down the street, this:

so there you go. the store i once dreamed would sell my designs, replaced by the store that mass produces low-quality, high-markup, designer-anonymous hipster and faux vintage designs. there is a transition going on over at queen west, but it’s one i just can’t wrap my head around. on this one “design district” block, a dozen independent stores have closed in the past month, and the same number of generic chains have replaced them.

it’s been said that a neighborhood rejuvenation takes gentrification. first the homeless and derelict are replaced by the artists, then the yuppies and dinkies, then the real estate developers. like new york’s soho and tribeca (and even financial district, so i hear). but what’s happening here isn’t a yuppie rejuvenation. it’s just a switching out of storm with urbn, chocky’s with h&m, and penguin music with hmv. there are still no grocery stores, gas stations, or luxury apartments. just pretentious hipster-ware. it’s becoming the kind of neighborhood where artists complain about starving but shop at american apparel instead of the singer fabric supply store— and claires instead of the beadery.

i hate to say that there is no future in this neighborhood. there is no reason for this– in a postindustrial society, attention must be paid to the handmade and original. sure, you can go to a canadian tire store and buy an entire set of debbie travis white ceramic dishes for pennies, but is that what we should encourage? sure, it will cost a little more to buy craftsman-made items. but in this society where you define yourself by what you buy, shouldn’t more effort than that be placed in material purchases? there is a place for the old navy‘s and banana republic‘s of the world– but not in the design district. the entirety of the garment district on spadina is long gone, must we chase away all creativity? just enlist architect’s alliance to tear down all the historic brownstones and erect the same glass-faced building, over and over. forget floorplans– open concept is in. a toilet against one wall, a kitchenette against the other. as long as it has hardwood floors someone will buy it.

that is all i have to say about that. but i beg of you– anyone reading this– whenever you can, support a local artist or designer (or, of course, there’s always etsy). creativity has a vitally important part to play in enriching our world, and just because it’s not the cheapest way to go doesn’t mean we should close up shop and invite in the cheaper, generic alternative.

i’ll end this entry with a few photos from my walk. thank the god of independent businesses that active surplus and romni wools are still open (if a deserres or curry’s swoops in and replaces my beloved yarn store, i swear i’m moving to canada… oh… wait… nevermind.)

penguin music

chocky's

storm

umbra

h&m

urbn

fire on queen west

fire on queen west

fire on queen west

fire on queen west

on the note of the fire, it is a really awful thing that happened there. my low quality, camera-phone photos can’t even begin to portray the devastation that has occurred. i hope all the shops that were affected can manage to reopen, and soon– i know it will be hard for preloved specifically, since their reconstructed vintage clothes are one of a kind. i’m deeply sorry to anyone affected by this tragedy.

that’s all for now. i’ll post updates on the new double knit hat and pattern when i stop fuming.

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2 thoughts on “honey, the neighborhood’s going to hell

  1. So sad. I’ve never been there, but in college my favorite antique shop burnt down and I was devastated. It was in the heart of downtown Bellingham, WA.

  2. Penguin music relocated because one of those “luxury” condos you dream about is going to replace the long dumpy building penguin used to be in. The architecture is black brick, about 6 stories tall, not to bad looking.

    Preloved is re-opening on Queen West opposite Trinity Bellwoods park, where “Fluff” the cushion shop used to be.

    Urban Outfitters, believe it or not, actually sells local Toronto/Canadian content. I once worked for a supplier…. They sell crap, no doubt about it. But most of Queen West, whether independent shops or chain stores, sells over-priced cloth and thread.:)

    I’m not surprised Chocky’s is closing–once again, they failed to keep up with the competition. Would you buy a Toyota Corolla at a dealership in Brampton for $2000 more than one in Toronto?

    The cool clothing stores in Toronto are moving to Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market, and some out in Parkdale. The Junction/Dundas west could be next…?

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