My reason to create this discussion is because we have lived in this community for the past 3 years and have not seen much improvement in the business that surround us.

We walk by the stores on Lakeshore, between first and 13th, and feel the owners of 90% of them are not proud of what they have, they look so dirty and disorganized, you'd rather take your car and go and walk, and buy somewhere else.

I think we should do something about it, a meeting maybe? so we can express our concerns to the owners so they can help us in achieving a better looking Lakeshore.

cause not only we got to deal with litter everywhere, also, drunk people, addicts, prostitutes and the councillor will not move a finger to change this as they say if you see any suspicious movement call the 22 division, plus they will not contact the business owners and tell them to improve their appearance.

I do not know if it's just me or you feel the same?? I do like living here and it's not about discrimination, its about having a nice community that you can "brag" about.

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I feel the same way.  Its so shabby and tired-looking, and downmarket and nothing to be proud of (with a few exceptions, such as the Loot Lady, Ember, Delicia Bakery, Sweet Olenkas among a very few others).  It is not a pleasure to walk on the Lakeshore between the streets you describe.  And yay, with the warmer weather approaching we will also have to deal with idiots who ride their bikes at top speed on the sidewalk.  I can't help but contrast the Lakeshore to Bloor West Village, which is like comparing night and day.  You see well dressed people up there who have some pride in their appearance and their neighbourhood, and it shows. The lakeshore seems so uncared for.  Like the poor hillbilly cousin of the better, smarter looking neighbourhoods.  Why is every male on the lakeshore in a hoodie and sweatpants?  Gentlemen, take some pride in your appearance! Must you look like you don't have two dimes to rub together?? But back to the storefronts.  While the media touts the "independent" shops of Toronto, down here on the lakeshore "independent" often means "couldn't care less about our dusty window displays cluttered with faded old junk in a mishmash jumble of hideosity".  It's depressing. It screams "Welcome to the Ghetto!"  Perhaps the merchants of Lakeshore could be rounded up and forced to attend a slide show presentation of window displays and storefronts of Paris or Brussels or any European capital who's window displays bedazzle and are often photographed by tourists, so beautiful and tempting are they! Have a look at some shop windows I photographed on my last trip to Europe...a bakery, a confectionary and a tea shop.


that' right!!! We always compare it to Bloor West Village and they do have tons of independent retailers but they do take pride of what they have.

I think we have to get together with the BIA and see if they can help with this.

The Star ran a recent article about a similar situation on the far east end of Danforth.  Lots of vacant storefronts and grotty looking store windows. The residents got together and formed a sort of task force.  They took a multi-pronged approach.  They went to each and every store and offered to jazz up their windows and clean up the storefronts, plus, they did this  "pop up store" idea in vacant stores.  The gist of that is, they approached the landlords of these vacant shops and asked for a month or two of free rent, in exchange, people with shop ideas went in, cleaned the place up and set up their 'pop up shops'.  It took a lot of time and work and effort but it seems to be successful.  I believe it was in the weekend Star of a week or two ago. I'm sure you can google and find it.  One thing you are right about, AV, is that Mark Grimes couldn't care less. Has anyone ever seen him shopping on the Lakeshore? Patronizing the shops he claims he promotes?  Didn't think so... As for the BIA, seems to be not much competence there, since there's been practically zero improvement over the years, and the few ventures they undertake wind up a disaster.  Such as the grotesquely painted flower boxes and the pathetic caricature of a 'fountain' at the corner of Fifth and Lakeshore. 

read the article, checked out their website and it looks like it has been a success.

wonder if our BIA would be interested in such a thing or at least making a plan to make things better

I fully agree but on the other hand do we want it to become as gentrified as BWV (where I lived for 7 years)? 

It is sad to see that new businesses are junk stores and tattoo parlours. It appears that Sense Appeal (coffee and really nice food) has packed up shop. Along with TD moving, that entire block is just hurting.  

We do try to support all the local businesses as much as possible. Some of the retailers along the Shore have great deals and good stuff but they lack marketing expertise and resources. As a consultant working from home ( as I assume many of us do) I am not able to join the BIA. I have a Masters in Management and an undergrad degree focused on marketing and strategic planning. They want me to serve popcorn.

I have become friends with a number of the retailers in the hood and they are all frustrated. The BIA is not representative of the community. Placebo space is a member of the BIA yet I have never seen the place open or advertising for shows in the 2 years I have been here.. There are a number of great businesses but none of them can just close down their shops to attend a BIA meeting in the middle of the day. 

Clearly, the demographic is changing in the hood. My belief is that there is a real divide between North and South of the Lakeshore. I read the community paper the other day and there was a "lovely" picture of Mark Grimes, no article, no updates. Just a 1/4 page ad of his head. 

Enough said. I really love this neighbourhood with it's working class roots and links to the past. I also believe in the future and would love other people to engage in this discussion and action. 



Here are some more alluring storefronts and interiors from my last trip to Europe. I was so bowled over by the gorgeous displays, the spic and span state of the shops....it was not uncommon to see chandeliers as the main lighting in stores, as opposed to hideous fluorescent. As well, even on a cold day, shop doors were wide open so no one had to struggle to open a heavy door.  Take a look a this unique shop in Belgium, it sold nothing but champagne! The selection was amazing and the bottles were hung against one entire wall.  (Of course here in Ontario this would be impossible as champagne is sold only at LCBO outlets, but the creativity of the idea is worth a look). There is also an outdoor display of tempting seafood outside a seafood restaurant and some unique and lovely chairs outside a cafe.


here's the seafood display outside the restaurant. I post these pictures to illustrate that with artistic creativity, attractiveness and better sales results....


AV, I thought the same as well but it looks like there is improvement that's slowly happening and people are starting to make an investment into our community. As Nico pointed out Loot Lady, Ember, Delicia Bakery, Sweet Olenkas are great spots as well as Grace's TASTE restaurant, the NTB lounge has some great live music, the Albatross is also a fantastic pub with incredible polish cuisine. Plus the improvements to the RABBA's was a nice touch. As I mentioned there are some new spots opening up soon which I'll be looking forward to:

Goodlake restaurant (formerly Lee Thai's on 8th): http://www.goodlake.ca

Sense Appeal (a new coffee shop across from little big guys opening in May): http://senseappeal.ca

The Cellar Door (formerly Pizza E Pazzi on 8th, goodlake pointed out the new owners on their twitter feed)

So it's not all doom and gloom (granted it's taken a while) but change for the better is coming. So our role is to support these businesses in hopes that they will remain a while and serve as a model of success for our community.  

Eighth Crazy Nights, we have been hearing the "slowly...improving" line for many years. Those of us who have lived here a number of years recognize that not only is "slowly" an understatement, but also that some of the new places that open.....do not stay open and fold up and close before too long.  They show promise, but then they disappear.  Look at Lee's Thai, at Longrain, and Pizza e Pazze.....they all looked good, opened with buzz, but then they didn't last long.  Whatever happened to painty mcgees?  I heard they went bankrupt.  They opened with a lot of buzz, made a big deal out of being lgbt friendly....well we see where that got them. They closed up within a year a so. Now its a thrift shop in that location.  And Pizza e Pazze was often packed...thats a big mystery there, how it went belly up in less than three months....But perhaps the real mystery is, why some worthwhile businesses do not go the distance and are here today and gone tomorrow on the Lakeshore....

I know we've all heard that our area is 'in transition' for the longest time but at least we should be a bit optimistic that people are willing to invest in the area.. we just hope they can survive which I believe they can. Pazze is a bit of an odd case as to what happened but it appears to be re-opening under a new name (as mentioned before). I find it hard to believe that they would sink all that money (as well as import a pizza oven from Italy) to be only open a few months without having some sort of long term plan. But what I want to point out is that at least people are willing to make a go of it (despite the turnover) and I'm grateful that it's not another money mart popping up in that space. Hopefully this will serve as momentum for more changes to come.   

That's true, some momentum is needed.  In view of that, measure do need to be taken to make the Lakeshore Boulevard a more attractive place, which in turn will lure people out of their houses and onto it.  Improving the look of the lakeshore has a lot to do with improving the storefronts and the appearance of the street in general. Nice benches, other street furniture that is attractive, instead of what we are served up now.  I also wish that the store on the north west corner of lakeshore and Islington would undergo a very badly needed face-lift.  I've no idea how the majority of the folks on the lakeshore are in need of a World War II era combat helmet or a Desert Storm camouflage knapsack that is bigger than the average person!  Those window displays in that store predate the war of 1812!  And its a major "corner anchor" in that tons of people get off the Islington stop right outside their doorstep and its their first glimpse of the Lakeshore.  Have the owners ever been approached with the idea of a rehaul of their window displays?

Ha.. that I can agree with. The lock-up place did an excellent job cleaning up their storefront a few years back (SW corner on 8th).. maybe TNT should get some styling tips to upgrade to 'chic cammo'! Regardless cleaning up the main drag would be a bonus.


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