The Renew East Danforth Initiative Brings Pop-up Shops to the Danforth
By Kaavya Sivakumaran
‘Tis the season for last-minute budget shopping, and the Danforth East Community Association (DECA) has—for a limited time only—transformed their side of our renowned avenue into the perfect little shopping village equipped with a variety of activities and pop-up retail. The goal of the Renew East Danforth initiative is to eventually rent out the storefronts on a permanent basis in order to increase foot traffic and bring vibrancy, fun, and safety to the East Danforth neighbourhood.
“Everyone refers to the place by the Carrot Common…as the Danforth. If you say you’re going to the Danforth, that’s what people picture,” said DECA volunteer Julia Porter. “We want East Danforth to be the new place that everybody pictures,” she added, and compared a street lined with vibrant local businesses to a smile with a full set of teeth.
With a total of five storefronts playing home to nine different pop-up shops until December 31st, both residents and visitors of the East Danforth community have a vast array of new establishments to check out. Here are just a few of the shops to pop into while strolling down the East Danforth.
1872 Danforth Ave.
Owned and operated by Beth Yarzab, certified Fitness Instructor Specialist and mother of twin girls, this fitness centre is geared towards both new and experienced mothers looking to not only get fit post-pregnancy, but also to set out on a new career path.
On the career-development side, CareerFit Mom provides workshops on résumé-writing and transferring skills. Many of Beth’s clients are new mothers who are on maternity leave and are no longer interested in continuing with their old jobs or mothers who have stayed at home with their kids for a few years and are trying to re-enter the workforce.
On the fitness side, Beth and her team of four moms from the Danforth lead mommy-and-me fitness classes, in-home personal training, and a fitness instructor certification program. Her classes are available year-round at East Lynn Park and at various local dance studios.
“I was meeting so many moms that wanted to get in shape and wanted to change their careers,” explained Beth, “and the idea of bringing both together and getting your life in shape after having a baby was really appealing to a lot of my clients.”
The publicity from the DECA and simply being located on the Danforth have provided great visibility for CareerFit Mom.
“This is my neighbourhood,” said Beth, “and I’m so grateful to be working [here] and to be living here and…all the people who live in this neighbourhood who are so supportive of local businesses and trying to make this community a great place to live for everybody.”
1936 Danforth Ave.
“The crazy thing that didn’t even pop into my head until about a week after we found the space and got all the details was that our address is 1936, and that’s [my dad’s] birth year,” said LEN co-owner David Kravinchuk, whose father is the store’s namesake. “It has been a little serendipitous.”
A spacious art gallery and purveyor of beautiful things, LEN prides itself in sourcing many local, handmade, and organic products for sale from the East Danforth. From pieces by Canadian artists like Ann Shier and Allen Ball, to animal-themed greeting cards, to unique decorative pieces and jewelry, David and co-owner Christal Pshyk make sure to keep their price points down for affordable holiday gifts and home décor.
“[We want to] get people to see that they can have a home that’s their dream-look from a magazine. It’s not totally inaccessible,” said David: “you can actually do it yourself, it’s not that expensive, and you just need to find the right shop to help you do that. We can do it!”
Though David and Christal admit that getting the word out within such a short time-frame has been challenging, their shop has garnered such a great response from the community that at only two weeks, they sold out of their popular votive candles and made a total of three re-orders.
“We’d like to thank DECA more than anything,” Christal said, going on to praise the organization for being more proactive than anyone she’d ever seen, transforming words into action.
The two art connoisseurs are hopeful that their shop will stay on the Danforth throughout the month of January.
Lemon Drop Custom Clothiers
1948 Danforth Ave.
Vowing to “fit every fabulous figure,” Nadine Moffatt and Paulina Zimakas’s pop-up boutique on east Danforth is tailored to women working in the professional world, new moms whose bodies have changed, and any woman who simply wants a dress that fits and flatters her in all the right places.
“We’re not all cookie cutter shapes,” Nadine said. “We’re really trying to help women embrace their shape, feel great about it, and being able to have things that are made to measure.” Their designs incorporate classic lines, she added, allowing for a piece to live in the wardrobe for several years.
Lemon Drop offers about 20 different designs, a girls’ collection with standard sizing (2 to 14), and their Stella & Dot jewelry collection. Their tailors are based in Vietnam and use ecologically friendly materials, and a percentage of Lemon Drop’s proceeds goes toward an orphanage in Thuan An.
“[We’re] creating an opportunity for women to better themselves, not only in empowering them in feeling great with what they’re wearing but also through our business practices,” explained Nadine.
Although the shop is only on the Danforth until Christmas Eve, it often pops up in various Toronto locations for three to four days at a time, and its home offices are open year-round by appointment in Toronto and Niagara. Within the next year, Lemon Drop hopes to complete the transition into e-commerce and make their stunning products available for purchase online.
For more information on the East Danforth pop-ups, visit the DECA.
Photos by Veronica C. Silva and Anoja Muthucumaru