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culture

Get a Piece of Transit History at the TTC’s New Online Store

After a spotty past, the TTC is getting back into the transit collectible game.

Images courtesy of the TTC.


On July 7, the TTC opened an online store, which offers a small selection of TTC swag. This is notable for two reasons. One: This is its first foray into internet sales since getting back into the branded merchandise game last year. And two: unlike previous attempts to hawk TTC-themed wares, this looks as if it could actually succeed.

The collection—sold since March 2013 exclusively at the Customer Service Centre over Davisville station—is built around historic and iconic TTC images. Replicas of posters and subways maps from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s are on offer for $20 each. You can also get a print of the painting that graces the TTC’s new Ride Guide—an impressionism-y depiction of classic Toronto streetcars. And if you want a copy of one of the route maps that graces the remaining older-style subways, you can pick one of those up, too.

Image courtesy of the TTC.

From 2006 to 2010, TTC bric-a-brac was sold at a store in Union Station—one run by a sportswear company with a TTC merchandising deal. It was not a markedly successfully enterprise. As Torontoist reported when the outlet was shuttering, the TTC made only $6,000 off the merchandise in 2009. And the apparel it was hawking was—well, it looked like the sort of gear Guy Fieri might wear on one of his better days.

The new line, particularly because it’s available online, seems as if could be the beginning of a nice little side business for the TTC. It will have to compete with several independent outlets selling local transit-themed tchotchkes. But, in an interview with Metro, TTC chief service officer Chris Upfold hinted at the possibility of partnering with other TTC-merchandise creators in the future.

Images courtesy of the TTC.

For now, the TTC’s online shop has promise. Gambling on Torontonians’ love of classic city iconography and kitschy-cool design seems like a pretty safe move. Torontonians are very good at wishing the TTC were more like other cities’ transit systems. “New York’s subway has more of this, Paris’s Metro gives you more of that, London’s Underground reaches out to there.” But we very rarely appreciate the fact that our city’s transit commission is 94 years old, with a rich, sometimes divisive, history.  The TTC is ours. Now, with conveniently available merchandise, it’s easier than ever to show it.

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