Archive for the ‘pop-up shops’ Category

Do you care about making the Danforth safer, more fun and useful for people of all ages (whether you are age 8 or 80 or anywhere in between)? We do too! That’s why DECA is so excited to be partnering with 8 80 Cities, Better Block, and the Danforth Mosaic BIA to create an exciting Danforth Pop-Up Street Makeover!

We’d love to have your input and ideas! Please join us for a presentation and community discussion on Thursday (tomorrow). You’ll meet some neighbours, the folks from 8 80 Cities and Better Blocks who are coming to make this amazing thing happen – and you won’t have to make dinner because Hirut is cooking for everyone. Drinks will be available for purchase.

Where: Hirut Restaurant, 2050 Danforth Ave.

What: Danforth Pop-up Street Makeover Discussion and Free Dinner!

When: Thursday, September 6 from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

If you can, please RSVP here, or just drop by!


Keen to lend a hand or know someone who might be?

We’ll also be needing some pop-up street makeover volunteers who can roll up their sleeves and lend a hand to re-design the street. We’ll be using temporary paint and materials, building and installing wikiblock furniture, and overseeing program activities for neighbours of all ages. The event and prep will take place October 4th – 6th. If you are unable to attend the meeting but would like to be involved, please email gay@deca.to for more information.

Read more about this exciting project here.

Community Meeting Sept 6

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It was just four years ago when a group of us gathered together and made the decision to take matters into our own hands and do something about the high number of vacant storefronts in the area. It’s hard to believe now, but at the time, the commercial vacancy rate on our strip of the Danforth was 17%. That’s almost 1 in 5 shops empty!  While these were private properties, their empty, dreary spaces left the the public space along Danforth feeling bleak, abandoned and often unsafe. Most of us chose to go elsewhere to shop and socialize. The lack of local foot traffic, in turn, made it more difficult for existing shops to thrive.

The idea was simple. Or crazy, depending on whom you asked. Modeled after a similar project in Newcastle, Australia, we would somehow convince landlords to hand us their empty storefronts so we could place temporary tenants in them. These tenants would beautify the space and drive foot traffic to the area, which in turn would attract more businesses to the area.

Remember when many shops looked like this?

Remember when many shops looked like this?

A pop-up shop transforms the feeling on the street.

A pop-up shop transforms the feeling on the street.

The good news is…

It wasn’t so crazy after all! After 4 years of pop-ups, the vacancy rate in the area is now a healthy 6%.  During the life of the project, 32 Pop-up Shops were hosted; 6 of these businesses were incubated to stay on more permanently, and all 15 of the properties associated with the project obtained long-term leases.  And we continue to see more and more new businesses moving in regularly!

This lower vacancy rate means we’ve run out of spaces to pop into, and it’s time to wrap up the pop-up project. But we won’t go quietly. The project was a success because of all of you. So many of you played a role in its success, whether it was by volunteering, by participating in one of the community consultations or by changing your shopping habits to better support our local businesses.

Come raise a glass…

Please join us for a casual gathering on this Thursday, July 14, 7:30-9:30 pm, at The Shore Leave (1775 Danforth), where we will be raising a glass to all the work that went into this project! There will be light snacks, a cash bar and a chance to celebrate with your neighbours. Details and RSVP here.

Thank you all!

The biggest thank you and congratulations goes to all the volunteers that put their time, energy and expertise into this project. The volume of work that went into it was gargantuan, and over 100 of you played an active hand in its success. We can’t name everyone, but to give a sense of the scope of the work, volunteer project teams included:

  • Developing legal agreements and securing insurance
  • Investigating and recruiting property owners
  • Painting, cleaning and beautifying the pop-up spaces
  • Recruiting and interviewing potential pop-up shop tenants
  • Graphic design of a multitude of posters and brochures
  • Blogging and social media
  • Organizing community consultations like Danforth Dreams
  • Working with urban planning & architecture student group, and showcasing their work at Imagine the Danforth
  • Organizing shop local campaigns with both the pop-ups and existing businesses
  • Conceiving and running the popular Danforth Gems competition

Needless to say, it didn’t take us long to realize this project was not sustainable on a zero budget, 100% volunteer basis. In came WoodGreen Community Services, with whom we partnered to jointly apply for funding from the Metcalf Foundation.  The support from both of these organizations was crucial to the success of the project and our neighbourhood is all the more vibrant for it.

Work crew getting a shop ready for a pop-up

Work crew getting a shop ready for a pop-up.


Receiving funding allowed us to hire a much-needed co-ordinator (in fact, two people who job shared). While volunteers came in and out, as life circumstances dictated, Tina Scherz and Gay Stephenson, our 2 Pop-up Shop Project Co-ordinators were the enthusiastic glue that held the project together (and at times, the sanity of lead volunteers). Their energy and dedication were unmatched and made it all possible. Thank you, Tina and Gay.

This project’s success is also due to the many landlords who took a chance on a new idea, the support of our City Councillors Mary-Margaret McMahon and Janet Davis, and the members of our Advisory Committee, who lent us their expertise to help us set the direction of the project.

Thank you all.

It doesn’t end here…

Our strip of the Danforth is undeniably much busier than it was 4 years ago. But it still needs our help. If we want to see it continue to grow and become more walkable and vibrant, we need to each do our part by continuing to choose to shop, eat and play locally. The more we choose to spend our money in our neighbourhood, the more we support our local businesses and attract new ones to the area.

As we have seen, together we can do great things.

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DECA seeks a videographer–proposals due March 21

We’re ready for our close-up! The DECA/Woodgreen pop-up team is hiring a videographer to produce wrap-up videos for the pop-up shop project. Our grant is ending, but have no fear, we’ll still be working at filling the (increasingly fewer) empty storefronts with pop-up shops on a strictly volunteer basis.

We’d love to hire someone local to make the videos, but anyone can apply, so please spread the word. Proposals are due March 21. Check out the official Request For Proposal for all the details (plus a great summary and links to the fabulous work the Pop-up group has done).


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Thanks to guest blogger Gay Stephenson, Community Economic Development Coordinator at Woodgreen who is also a DECA Volunteer Extraordinaire. Follow Gay on twitter at @gaystephenson for a master class in community-building and loving your neighbourhood.

Our little neighbourhood is part of the friendliest, most welcoming commercial strip in Toronto, and we love our shops and businesses more than any other neighbourhood in the city. Heck, our little pocket has given birth to 32 pop-up shops in 3 years, helped launch a SWAP Alternative Gift pop-up for the holidays, AND turned out in droves to support refugees through the ETF4Syria Pop-up Hub! We understand that most small biz owners work long hours, pouring their heart and soul into creating a delightful place for us to shop, eat or play. So when a local business closes, we miss them and wonder what went wrong. Some stories are happy, some are sad.

This ebb and flow along Danforth East gives rise to some incredible opportunities for businesses ready to take the plunge. Our past wish lists have included a fish market (did you know we can buy fish at Stock-in-Trade?) Other requests included book store, more coffee shops (and now we have Press), and more restaurants/pubs (in 2015 Local 1794 & Fourth Avenue Kitchen and Bar, and The Shore Leave tiki bar opened). Our neighbourhood is coming of age! What more could we ask for? You tell us… as you read on, think about what else you dream of, then send us a tweet or post to our Facebook page. The pop-up shop team would love to hear from you!

used appliances

Congratulations and best wishes to Gus who closed his used appliance shop and retired after more than 30 years in business. He sold the building at 1841 Danforth and the store is currently available for lease. It’s just one door away from the new Fresh Paint Studio & Cafe and an opportunity for some lucky business owner.


Farewell to Justin and Hannah of Signature Sushi at 1524 Danforth who sold their business in December to another young couple. The new owners have added a stunning new sign. This was a much loved local spot, and the new owners are receiving rave reviews. Have you tried it yet?! A warm welcome to Yanagi Sushi.


This year we also said goodbye to much loved, Danforth Sandwich, Almanqal Shawarma, East Lynn Antiques, Kind Exchange and Bellalite. We’ll miss you! (Although, a new sign up at Danforth Sandwich says it is under new management and will reopen soon! Stay tuned.)

On the other hand, if you know a business looking to move east, these are super locations: 1989 Danforth is currently for sale and 1912, 2116, & 2038 Danforth are available for lease. Who knows what spring will bring to #DanforthEast.

New Store Alert! We love sharing these messages on Facebook and Twitter to celebrate the new additions. Every new business opening causes a stir of excitement in our neighbourhood.


coal mine

In December we welcomed the fabulous new Hollandaise Diner to 2321 Danforth Ave between Woodbine and Main.

We can now add theatre, yes THEATRE to the list of fabulous things to do in our ‘hood! Welcome to the Coal Mine Theatre at 1454 Danforth near Monarch Park. Tickets to A Winter’s Tale are on sale until Feb. 20th, $25-35, or on Sundays pay what you can.

Fresh Paint Studio and Cafe’s opening on Feb 6th was a great success! Find them at 1849 Danforth Ave, Tues – Saturday, 11am-9pm and Sunday, 12-5pm.


Broad, a new lingerie and swimsuit shop is a specialty shop for women with fuller busts is set to open in March at 1763 Danforth beside In This Closet. Sam Conover, owner of Broad says that she always knew she wanted to be in the east end. Why bras? “It’s something most women wear every day. I want to make sure people have access to something that fits and feels good”. With ten years experience as a bra fitter at In My Sister’s Closet, Sam plans to keep prices as accessible as she can with a good selection under $100.



Vilnes Aveda Salon is now open. Located at 1436 Danforth Ave beside The Pillow Shoppe. Dalia moved east from Pape and Danforth and her customers are following her here! A new sign is on the way and you can reach her at 416-421-1932.

**This just in: The Firkin On Danforth opened yesterday in the condo at Woodbine & Danforth!**


Check out our list of extraordinary past and present pop-up shops here. We’re proud of our contributions to the revitalization of Danforth East. In 2015, three of our pop-ups became permanent fixtures and the vacancy rate on our strip has gone from 17% down to less than 9% since we started this project. Yippee! (By the way, not only does this make our strip more appealing for shopping/dining, it also increases safety in our neighbourhood by increasing foot traffic.)

And that’s not all… the Danforth Mosaic BIA is rolling out their marketing plans for local businesses, with the theme: “You’ll love what you find here!”

We sure do. Don’t be shy, why not recommend some of our local businesses to your friends? Word of mouth and social media will help our small, original locals grow & flourish, in a digital world.



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Thanks to guest blogger, Tina Schertz, Community Economic Development Co-ordinator with Woodgreen, member of DECA’s pop-up shop team and all-around neighbourhood superhero (that last part isn’t part of her official title, but it should be!)

Back in the fall we sent out a survey asking you about the Danforth Gems event, and your local shopping habits. Thank you to the over 200 of you who responded! Janette P. was randomly selected from the responses and was the lucky winner of a $50 gift certificate to Silly Goose (the local business of her choice.) Based on the results, we were able to see some interesting local shopping patterns, which have been shared with the local BIA – who appreciated the input. We also realized we should be sharing the results with you, our neighbours, and supporters of all things local. So without further ado *drumroll please*

Overwhelmingly (and not too surprisingly!) respondents indicated that they shop locally – over 80% of you pop into local establishments at least 3 times a week. This is up since the last time we asked this question back in January 2014, when  62% of you shopped locally at least 3 times per week. The surge of new businesses in the area must have something to do with that increase.  Big nod to all the businesses in the area that provide these offerings right in our ‘hood!

Based on this latest survey, the majority of these local trips are for groceries but you are eating out locally and generally keeping more of your dollars in the neighbourhood:

  • 69% of of you buy groceries locally at least 5 times a month.
  • 78% of you visit a local restaurant at least once a month.
  • 53% of you visit a local coffee shop at least 3 times a month.
  • 74% reported they spend at least $150 per month at local businesses overall.

local shopping spent

We were also interested to know whether DECA’s Danforth Gems competition had an impact on people’s shopping habits, and it seems it did! 67% of respondents agreed with the statement “I now shop in places I hadn’t before [Danforth Gems]” 

Many of you had lots of positive things to say about Danforth Gems, especially the stories and profiles of different business owners we shared with you on DECA Diaries throughout the competition. Check out the word cloud we generated based on all the comments:

Word Cloud 2

Initiatives like Danforth Gems only happen because of amazing volunteers, which is true for all DECA events and initiatives, such as the Pop-Up Shops, East Lynn Park Farmers’ Market and Danforth East Community Arts Fair (and so many others), all of which which contribute to the vibrancy of our neighbourhood.

This survey showed us that a lot of you are supporting the local economy. Thank you!

Help keep the momentum going. Share your love of the neighbourhood with others, whether it’s a great deal on a pantry staple or a local class that gets you moving and shaking – let’s keep spreading the word about how easy it is to find everything we need right here in this neighbourhood!

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Have you seen our latest pop-up shop, East Toronto Families for Syria Hub? It’s a place where the community can gather and be a part of welcoming families to Danforth East. It also operates as a donation drop off/pick up location for household goods. The Hub is located at 1803 Danforth Avenue above the Tool Library. Their Grand Opening Event is on Saturday January 23, 12-6pm and everyone is welcome!  The Hub will be popping up in the neighbourhood until March 31 and is open Saturdays and Sundays from 12-6pm, or by appointment during the week.

How can you help?

They are accepting donations of household goods and small furniture in good to excellent condition. Please note that due to the large number of items already donated, The Hub is only accepting donations for specific items. Please check their Facebook page to see what items they are looking for.

How can you help even more?

The Hub is a grassroots volunteer effort and is counting on volunteers to help staff the space. Right now they need volunteers through March 31st on Saturdays and Sundays between 12-6pm. Volunteering will likely involve some sorting, organizing and display of donations, and children and babies are welcome and encouraged to come along. Use the links below to get in touch with them if you can spare some of your time to help.

Volunteers at the hub are also creating welcome baskets and organizing activities to connect sponsoring families. Everyone is welcome at the Grand Opening Event on January 23, noon to 6pm. The following Saturday, January 30, they are hosting a Syrian Refugee Sponsor Group Mixer.


ET4Syria Hub wishes to thank Remax Hallmark Realty for their generosity with this initiative, and is thrilled to be part of DECA/ WoodGreen’s Pop-Up Shop program.

If you want to get in touch with questions, please email info.easttorontofamilies4syria@gmail.com
You can also check them out online at:
Twitter: @eastTO4Syria

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Our newest pop-up shop is a collaboration with the Tool Library! Thanks to Ryan Dyment, Executive Director of the Tool Library, for this post with all the details.

The Holiday Season has arrived which means lots of parties, Christmas carols and of course, a massive dose of consumerism whose hangover will only be felt in January when your credit card bill arrives. A closer look at this bill will reveal purchases of gifts that George Monbiot describes as “amusing on the first day of Christmas, daft on the second, embarrassing on the third. By the twelfth they’re in landfill. For 30 seconds of dubious entertainment, or a hedonic stimulus that lasts no longer than a nicotine hit, we commission the use of materials whose impacts will ramify for generations.”

How often have you received a gift that you didn’t need or didn’t even want? How many plastic trinkets have you found in your stocking that give you a fleeting 3-second laugh only to be discarded and left to decompose over the next 1,000 years?

For the past two years the Toronto Tool Library has been proud to host Toronto’s only ‘Alternative Gift Fair’ at our Danforth location. The Fair is a community swap event where anyone can come and swap giftable items with their community rather than buying more stuff that often has no practical purpose whatsoever. Hundreds of lightly used or new items have been exchanged, the media has covered the story and credit card debt has been cut down for those who’ve come out. This event represents a distinct anomaly in our society: money is not permitted and existing abundance in our community is shared.

tool lib 2

This year’s event will be even bigger. After some fortunate negotiations with our landlord and support from DECA, Woodgreen, community organizer Stephanie Nakitsas and the team at the Tool Library, we are excited to announce Toronto’s first ever ‘Alternative Gift Shop‘. This storefront shop at 1803 Danforth will be the only gift shop in Toronto where money is not accepted; just bring any lightly used or new items, or even an item like a cooking or ukulele lesson and swap up to 10 of these items with others.  The shop will kick off with a Grand Opening on Thursday December 17th from 7-10pm with free beverages provided by Left Field Brewery and snacks from the Toronto Tool Library. The Alternative Gift Shop will also be open to all from FridaySunday for the following hours:

Friday, December 18th: 12pm-8pm

Saturday, December 19th: 10am-5pm

Sunday, December 20th: 10am-5pm

You can help us spread the word by inviting your friends to our Facebook event 

tool lib 3

How can you participate?

We’ll begin accepting items for early donation on Sunday Dec. 13th between noon and 5pm. You can gift items to the shop or get a ticket for each item you bring (up to 10). Tickets can then be exchanged for another item when the shop opens. If you’d like to lend a hand, we’re also looking for volunteers to set up and help run the shop. We’re meeting on Dec. 9 at 7:30pm – please email Stephanie to join the team effort! stephanie.nakitsas@gmail.com.




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