If you’re shopping this weekend Shop Local with some Filipino Flare. Avoid the cluttered and claustrophobic parking lots and malls and head to Dundas Street. From Spadina St. to Dufferin St. you’ll find one of the kind gifts in specialty shops own and curated by Filipino Artist, Designers, Craft-Makers right here in Toronto.

Lets start East and work West. First stop Kensington Market North of Dundas St. on Augusta Ave.

1. Blue Banana Market | 250 Augusta Ave | www.bluebananamarket.com

Ok Ok so it’s closer to College St. and it’s NOT owned by a Filipino BUT Blue Banana gets a special shout out because they recently donated a gift basket valued at $70+ to the Women + Finance + Empowerment  event at Kapisanan Centre for Philippine Arts and Culture. Thank you Blue Banana for the community support.

2. Kapisanan Centre for Philippine Arts and Culture | 167  Augusta Avewww.kapisanancentre.com

Just south of Bellevue Park is the Kapisanan Centre for Philippine Arts and Culture. The paroles in the window are a clear indication you’re in the right place. You can say that I’m biased as CBT’s office is IN Kapisanan but Kapisanan is the place where you will find funky trinkets, yummy treats, and festive Pasko vibes!

Funky trinkets – Hand-crafted waterfall necklace from T’boli tribe in Mindanao ($60)

Yummy treats – Artisinal Preserves by Eric Quebral featuring flavours include Lemon Curd, Apple Butter and Guinness Stout Mustard ($5 ea.)

Pasko (Christmas) Vibes – Block printing Holiday Cards hand made by Clutch Program* participants. ($3 ea. Or 2 for $5)

But wait. There’s more:  Silkscreen Prints and Melissa Clemente Designs!

*CLUTCH is a FREE 5-month arts-based program for young Filipina artists (females aged 17-24 years old) to start a dialogue with each other, get mentorship from professional artists within the community, have access to professional tools to hone their creativity, define their identity, explore their community, and tell their stories on their terms.

3. Pretty Freedom | 165  Augusta Ave www.prettyfreedom.com

Pretty Freedom is my favourite vintage-like store for two reasons 1)   they are affordable 2) they believe in second chances. Everything in the store including the furnishings has been given a second chance.

Pretty Freedom, or “Ilus Malaya”, was named for the owners’ favourite words in their native languages (Estonian and Tagalog). This fabulous store also carries local jewellery designers including  It’s Your Life and WiLD MOON Jewelry.

Every Tuesday they release their new stock (with prices) online via the “Weekly Top 40” and you can ask the store owners via social media to hold items for you. Talk about customer service! And…This Month they’re having a special on  Melissa Clemente Designs.

4.  Miracle Thieves | 249 Crawford Street | www.miraclethieves.com

Say goodbye to Kensington and walk West until you’re facing Trinity Bellwoods Park on Dundas it is here that you’ll find  Miracle Thieves. Miracle Thieves has a viaritey of community activities in addition to their retail store.

Every quarter, Miracle Thieves features local Toronto artists in the main studio space. Ranging from illustrations and handbound books, to jewelry and sui generis garments, Miracle Thieves showcases a wide range of pieces made by prolific local artisans.

Their consignment retail component is curated (by Robin Lacambra one half of theuncarvedblock.ca) to feature world-class talents who live and work in the village/neighbourhood. Some of their featured artists include Tala Kamea, Ilona Fiddy and of course, Melissa Clemente Designs (I’m seeing a theme here).

5. Magiks Home Furnishings | 1499 Dundas Street West | www.magikshome.com

This specialty shop showcases time-old traditions of woodcarving, weaving, lighting and much more.  With its Spanish colonial influences, Islamic sensibilities, and animistic origins, the pieces are unique and outstanding.

Their accent and lighting pieces are stunning.  The concepts are familiar, however the materials and shapes are unique. The result is an outstanding merge of  originality and  functionality. Their table lamps and shell votive candle holders are what originally caught my eye although avoid the Imelda Marcos quote on the main page…it lacks irony.

Why is it IMPORTANT to shop local?
Locally owned businesses tend to purchase from other local businesses, thus owned by people who live locally, and are more invested in the community’s future. For example the majority of the places listed above have active outreach and community programs. Local businesses require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores entering the community. A growing body of economic research shows that entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.