Today’s opening of the One of a Kind Show and Sale marks the unofficial kick-off of the holiday shopping season. We are officially in binge territory here: the exhibition hall takes ten minutes to walk from end to end and is stuffed to the rafters with every imaginable kind of artisan. It’s the ultimate in one-stop shopping for the indie set. As you’d expect, a wander through the stalls yields a mix of the fantastic and the just plain weird. The show is juried, which keeps the overall quality of the work pleasingly high, and we found lots of eminently covet-worthy things.
Each year the show has a themed exhibition—this year’s is “holiday windows.” If you ever pressed your nose up against the Eaton’s or Bay store window displays as a kid, ogling the doll-houses and mechanical elves, you’ll appreciate the sentiment behind that. The windows at the One of a Kind Show are comparatively small, but they offer a cute showcase for some of the artisans’ work. There is also a section devoted to first-time exhibitors: these smaller, lower-cost booths are one of the ways the show is trying to keep itself accessible and refresh its talent pool.
The One of a Kind Show is, for many of Canada’s far-flung artisans, exciting enough to warrant a plane trip. Torontoist chatted with one vendor who came all the way from Pemberton B.C., for instance, who gave a glowing report of her experiences. We asked if the economic downturn had her worried but she, like most of the other artisans we spoke with, was relatively upbeat. Though many customers are spending less than in previous years, buying local and hand-crafted items is becoming a higher priority. Said Ulla: “Whatever money people are spending, they’re spending at places like this.”
The crowds at the show can be daunting—several hundred eager beavers were lined up by the time doors opened this morning. We recommend going on a weekday if at all possible, and giving yourself plenty of time to browse. This is shopping as an endurance sport. If you’re lucky though, you’ll leave with everybody on your list taken care of, and possibly a few goodies for yourself to boot.
The One of a Kind Show and Sale runs from November 27 to December 7 at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place.
All photos by Hamutal Dotan/Torontoist.