Spacing, the Canadian magazine that celebrates our cities, is extending its retail reach, opening a bricks-and-mortar store at 401 Richmond. The new shop features a vast and varied book selection, Toronto-centric clothing and housewares, and locally made goods.
The magazine has been selling some of these goods from its online store for the past year and a half, but most of the in-store offerings are new, crafted by artists that Spacing has sought out, or vice versa. Here, you’ll find products that are well-designed—nothing turned out on a conveyer belt. The plan is to keep the selection fresh by having new items—by local artists—constantly rotated into and out of the shop.
Spacing’s publisher, Matthew Blackett, says that the shop caters to Toronto’s local pride. “I think what we were missing in this city was a city store that’s just dedicated to Toronto,” he says. “Specifically to urban issues—or urban topics that are related to urbanism—and living in the city.” Michael Bulko, Spacing’s director of retail, echoes this sentiment. “A lot of big cities around the world all have city stores—New York City Store, London Underground Museum, even Detroit…” he says, “and Toronto doesn’t have anything.”
The shop’s aesthetic is smart and clean. Most impressive is the book selection—arranged by the front door, in the shop’s reading nook—which includes works by celebrated urban planner Jane Jacobs and Mark Osbaldeston, author of Unbuilt Toronto. Moving further into the shop, you’ll find hand-printed streetcar pillows, repurposed metal sculptures, and too many buttons to count.
The shop’s varied selection owes itself to Spacing’s wide readership base. “We tried to get beyond the normal merchandise—posters, T-shirts, and stuff like that,” Bulko says. He points at a collection of candles sitting in the shop window. “We have candles by a company called Smells Like Canada. She does two Toronto [scents], Toronto Smoke and Hogtown Peameal. You don’t have to be a transit geek or hardcore cyclist to want a candle that smells like bacon.”