Shawn Skeir’s self-titled Skeir Studio Gallery opened in 2007, around the same time I started working in Parkdale. I used to text my husband photos of Shawn’s artwork until we finally bought a couple of pieces.
When I came back to work (in Parkdale) after my maternity leave last summer, I was so happy to see a new baby store, with the sweetest name, This Little Piggy.
Faye opened her store for the very reasons that I was excited to have it, so that moms in the Parkdale and surrounding areas could get things that they would have before had to go online to find- hip clothing, new and interesting baby products, even a good nursing bra.
When Contrast Living opened its doors in Parkdale in April 2015 I was ecstatic, finally a super fun (affordable) shop that I can rely on when I need something little for a family or friends’ birthday. When I first went into the store I noticed right away that it was so much more than a cute little gift shop. They also sell vintage/retro furniture and lighting as well as some very cool handmade one-of-a-kind stools.
When we moved to the neighbourhood a few years ago, Forever Interiors was one of the first stores that caught our eye and it was the first store that I thought of when I decide to start this blog. I was really excited to sit down with the owner, Martin, to hear the story of how this unique independent business got started. When I reached out to Martin, and asked to interview him, his response, “Sounds like fun, it would be my pleasure!”, pretty much sums up his laid-back, friendly personality.
Forever Interiors opened its doors 10 years ago last month. Up until then Martin had worked in advertising, but when the company he was working for laid off most of their employees he accepted his brother’s invitation to open a vintage furniture store together. Martin ended up opening the store on his own and quickly realized that he did not want to continue just selling vintage items. After acquiring some old doors he thought he would try his hand at designing furniture. He designed storage benches out of the doors and hired a carpenter to make them a reality.
From there Martin started designing media cabinets as well as coffee and dining room tables. As a result he started doing quite a bit of work with restaurants, “because restaurants need tables” he joked. Many restaurants and stores in the area (and across Toronto) house Forever Interior items (Indie Ale House, Cantina, and Gerhard to name a few).
All the wood he uses is reclaimed. Martin explained that the wood is mostly Douglas Fir from BC, brought to Ontario at the turn of the Century when Vancouver was being developed. At this time trains were taking items to Vancouver and because the trains couldn’t drive back to Ontario at full speed if they were empty, the trains were filled with lumber. “At first it seemed preposterous” Martin said, “why would anyone bring trees to a place already full of trees, but it turned out it made all the sense in the world because one of their tress equaled about 30 of ours, so they were bringing us lumber that we couldn’t possibly have had here”.
Recently Martin bought all the leftover material from an upholstery store that was leaving the area. He partnered with a seamstress, Lola, and together they are making bags, pillows, and their newest item- wine gift bags. “Its again making use of material that otherwise…I don’t know what would be of it”. The purses are really cute and come in different sizes, I may have purchased one as soon as I finished my interview.. and by “may” I mean did. I’m also heading back to buy a cushion or two this weekend.
Hottest items in the store right now are the “pew boards”- chalkboards made from the back of church pews, and the wine racks. You should also head to Forever Interiors if you’re in the market for a kitchen island or cart.
This was my first interview, I hope you enjoyed reading about the store as much as I enjoyed interviewing Martin and writing this story. I am having fun and plan to keep blogging around the Junction and Parkdale. Any feedback whether positive or negative is always welcome and can only help make this blog better for me and you… so please don’t hesitate to comment below.