The concept of Toronto Designers Market began as an idea between two friends. Marcus Kan recalls his friend telling him about this space in Parkdale and what he wanted to do with it. It was meant to be a space where local entrepreneurs could set up their business to reach consumers in a collective way. Kan thought it was a great way to help support local designers and artisans and offered to not only help manage the overall space but he also had the connections to bring in talented designers by offering them affordable, clean booth space to rent. A year later, he took over the 3000 square-foot store and became the owner of the Toronto Designers Market.
Each of the booths is distinct in what they offer from clothing to accessories to interior decor and vintage pieces. But it’s worth going there every few months as the occupants change. Kan also acts as a curator ensuring that each space is filled with goods with meaning and inspiration. Walking through the spaces with him and you’ll hear some great fun facts and stories behind each one.
Who are some of the designers and artisans there? “There are many great designers at the store and I love the current roster we have. Out of all the great designers and artists, the following two are definitely on the Toronto Designers Market Hall of Fame!” says Kan.
Krane is one of the brands Kan says he is most proud to have at Toronto Designers Market. “I have been a fan of Ken’s products since 2009 and he has been with us since we opened the store. Every fall and winter, I see many customers coming in just for his jackets. If you haven’t owned one yet, I highly recommend you to pop by the store in the fall to check them out,” says Kan.
Another stand out brand is the jewellery brand Monoxide. Kan explains that Tyler has also been with the core group since they opened the store and he’s so proud of featuring her creations. “Her brand has evolved a lot and now she has gained a lot of loyal customers to buy her products. I have seen some of the new products she is going to release next year and you definitely will not want to miss out.”
If a designer wants to show there, what should the know initially? Kan tells us that they need to first and foremost understand how to operate a business. “Even though they don’t need to be at the store all the time, they need to understand that the booth they are renting is their own store. Just like a regular operation, they need to know how to attract their customers to come and buy their products. They also need to come and edit their booth from time to time. Recently, I find the customers are really looking forward to an experience when they visit the store. I find that if the vendor is here to talk to the customers, they will usually get the sales.”
What he realized early on is a lot of vendors think once they have space here, they believe he would manage the entire business for them. The space is there and he helps with the end sale. It’s not a consignment shop but rather a more direct way to get the designer goods into the hands of the consumers while allowing the vendor to maintain control of pricing and marketing. It’s a great way to help get those sometimes harder-to-find products into the hands of the consumer without large retail mark-ups.
How does he decide who is featured in the space? Kan tells us he always thinks what customers would like to see when they come into the store. “Based on my experience, they are looking for unique products. Therefore, I am looking for products that you can’t easily find in the malls. I will also give priorities to products that are handcrafted and made in Canada,” says Kan.
In addition to the market being open for daily basis, the Toronto Designers Market hosts various events.
In the past 4 years, he’s had vendors hosting parties. They would bring their own food vendors and DJs for the events. “I really enjoyed these events because the vendors have an idea of what kind of party they would like to put on that’s fitting to their core values and shows their creativity. Okay, and I also enjoy the food they bring in — people who know me know I am a foodie!”
They’ve also have done a few pop-ups in the city to expand our market and raise awareness. Kan tells us he really enjoys the experience of chatting with new customers and seeing their response to the lines they feature.
What else is coming up? Every 2nd Saturday of the month Parkdale Flea uses the event space next to them to have their monthly flea market. Usually, there will be another 30+ vendors in the building. So, he highly recommends people who want to explore the shops and the area to pop by at that time because you will get to see 70+ vendors. Also, they are gearing up for the Holiday Season and will have one special shopping night in November. Keep an eye on Toronto Designers Market’s Instagram account for all the information.
Having wandered around the area, and noticed how pet-friendly the shops were we had to ask. And yes, the Toronto Designers Market is definitely pet-friendly and encouraged. There are a few fun wall murals within the block by Toronto artist Emily May Rose currently up for the ‘gram or whatever, they make for cute photos.
The Toronto Designers Market is located at 1605 Queen Street West in Toronto. For more information visit www.torontodesignersmarket.com