Shop around town - Arts Market

As a big fan of the shop local movement, when I first moved back to Toronto it was really important for me to find shops that specialized in locally handmade products, for my own shopping habit and for my company. I thought it would be great to start a blog series and share some of the wonderful shops I discovered. Next on the list is a great East End gem. Daniel Cohen is a wonderfully fun guy who is super eager to bring the arts to you!

Arts Market
1114 Queen Street East
ust east of Pape Avenue

Open Wed to Fri 12:00 - 6:00
           Weekends 11:00 - 6:00

Tell us a bit about your shop 

The Arts Market is a year round artisan market, offering hundreds of one of kind products. Located in the heart Leslieville, we currently have 53 artists who call the Arts Market their home and offer a range of merchandise. From fine art and antiques to jewelry and hand printed T-Shirts, there is always something for everybody at the Arts Market.  

What is your background as a maker/artist

Growing up I did not have any aspirations to be a artist. I always wanted to be an actor. I went to school at Glendon College for Drama Studies. When I attempted to get into the acting field I found it difficult somehow and turned to my other creative side. I began to create “As You See It Art” which I developed and sold while living in Sydney, Australia. I concentrated my efforts on photography, writing and creating collages. My cards turned out to be sought after for their random humour and handmade feel. When returning to Toronto I searched for a similar selling situation as I had in Australia, but didn’t find anything suitable. That is when I decided to open the Arts Market.

TEST member FlowerPot Designs

What lead you to opening up your own shop and to focus mainly on locally made goods

The Arts Market opened out of necessity as I needed a place to sell my own products and not have to compete with products made overseas. While developing the idea it occurred to me that other artists could also benefit from the store. Out of those thoughts the Arts Market was born. At the Market we strive to provide an easy place for artists to set up shop & begin the journey of showcasing their talents and selling their work. 

What are your biggest challenges in running a shop that focuses on local makers?

The biggest challenge with running a shop like the Arts Market is the constant effort required to inform the public that there is value in shopping locally.  Not only does it support your neighbour but it is greener and often more affordable. As a city we have to focus on shopping locally instead of shopping at big box stores, chains, and online. Making the choice to shop local is about giving back to your community and that benefits all of us.

TEST member thunderpeep designs. Arts Market also has a great selection of vintage pieces for sale.

What shops/neighbourhood (other than yours) do you like to shop for locally made goods?

Being a business that specializes in supporting my neighbourhood I try to utilize the places around me like The Doll Factory by Damzels, Nathalie Roze & Co., Pied-a-Terre, Telegramme Prints, as well as a variety of other Leslieville shops & resturants. If I have to leave the ‘ville’ I head towards other up & coming neighborhoods like Roncy, and the Junction. As much as possible I try to spend my money locally. 

Why is the handmade/shop local movement important to you?

I believe strongly that being a successful city/country starts at home. If we stop looking to outside sources to support us we will naturally get stronger and be a more profitable economy. Shopping handmade and local has always been a point of pride for various countries and I think we have strayed away from that in past years. Its time to start being proud of Canadian made products again. 

How do you find items/artists?

Finding the right artists is a team effort both by current artists and customers. We all know a creative soul who wants to get out there and sell their work, and we offer a very unique space for them to be in. We ask our community to help us grow. It’s good for them and good for the market at large.

bags by TEST member Arianne
What do you look for in new products?

Certainly, we look for original ideas crafted by local artists. We look for unique items that provide the customer with a variety of options that, for the most part, are not available anywhere else. 

Best piece of advice you would give new artists looking to get there goods into shops

Retail is a difficult business and takes perseverance, thinking outside the box and flexibility.  The market can always use a product that is original and creative, and the truth is no one person can predict what the success of an item will be. Ideally, it’s best to get your work into as many places as possible and give yourself a chance to get noticed. We have to make it happen for ourselves. That being said, at the Market we do our best to encourage and help the artists to grow and find out what works for them. 

Thanks Daniel!

If you're a team member and want to suggest a shop that you sell in, shop in or own email me

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