Pop-up Shop Wrap Up This Thursday


It was just four years ago when a group of us gathered together and made the decision to take matters into our own hands and do something about the high number of vacant storefronts in the area. It’s hard to believe now, but at the time, the commercial vacancy rate on our strip of the Danforth was 17%. That’s almost 1 in 5 shops empty!  While these were private properties, their empty, dreary spaces left the the public space along Danforth feeling bleak, abandoned and often unsafe. Most of us chose to go elsewhere to shop and socialize. The lack of local foot traffic, in turn, made it more difficult for existing shops to thrive.

The idea was simple. Or crazy, depending on whom you asked. Modeled after a similar project in Newcastle, Australia, we would somehow convince landlords to hand us their empty storefronts so we could place temporary tenants in them. These tenants would beautify the space and drive foot traffic to the area, which in turn would attract more businesses to the area.

Remember when many shops looked like this?
Remember when many shops looked like this?
A pop-up shop transforms the feeling on the street.
A pop-up shop transforms the feeling on the street.

The good news is…

It wasn’t so crazy after all! After 4 years of pop-ups, the vacancy rate in the area is now a healthy 6%.  During the life of the project, 32 Pop-up Shops were hosted; 6 of these businesses were incubated to stay on more permanently, and all 15 of the properties associated with the project obtained long-term leases.  And we continue to see more and more new businesses moving in regularly!

This lower vacancy rate means we’ve run out of spaces to pop into, and it’s time to wrap up the pop-up project. But we won’t go quietly. The project was a success because of all of you. So many of you played a role in its success, whether it was by volunteering, by participating in one of the community consultations or by changing your shopping habits to better support our local businesses.

Come raise a glass…

Please join us for a casual gathering on this Thursday, July 14, 7:30-9:30 pm, at The Shore Leave (1775 Danforth), where we will be raising a glass to all the work that went into this project! There will be light snacks, a cash bar and a chance to celebrate with your neighbours. Details and RSVP here.

Thank you all!

The biggest thank you and congratulations goes to all the volunteers that put their time, energy and expertise into this project. The volume of work that went into it was gargantuan, and over 100 of you played an active hand in its success. We can’t name everyone, but to give a sense of the scope of the work, volunteer project teams included:

  • Developing legal agreements and securing insurance
  • Investigating and recruiting property owners
  • Painting, cleaning and beautifying the pop-up spaces
  • Recruiting and interviewing potential pop-up shop tenants
  • Graphic design of a multitude of posters and brochures
  • Blogging and social media
  • Organizing community consultations like Danforth Dreams
  • Working with urban planning & architecture student group, and showcasing their work at Imagine the Danforth
  • Organizing shop local campaigns with both the pop-ups and existing businesses
  • Conceiving and running the popular Danforth Gems competition

Needless to say, it didn’t take us long to realize this project was not sustainable on a zero budget, 100% volunteer basis. In came WoodGreen Community Services, with whom we partnered to jointly apply for funding from the Metcalf Foundation.  The support from both of these organizations was crucial to the success of the project and our neighbourhood is all the more vibrant for it.

Work crew getting a shop ready for a pop-up
Work crew getting a shop ready for a pop-up.


Receiving funding allowed us to hire a much-needed co-ordinator (in fact, two people who job shared). While volunteers came in and out, as life circumstances dictated, Tina Scherz and Gay Stephenson, our 2 Pop-up Shop Project Co-ordinators were the enthusiastic glue that held the project together (and at times, the sanity of lead volunteers). Their energy and dedication were unmatched and made it all possible. Thank you, Tina and Gay.

This project’s success is also due to the many landlords who took a chance on a new idea, the support of our City Councillors Mary-Margaret McMahon and Janet Davis, and the members of our Advisory Committee, who lent us their expertise to help us set the direction of the project.

Thank you all.

It doesn’t end here…

Our strip of the Danforth is undeniably much busier than it was 4 years ago. But it still needs our help. If we want to see it continue to grow and become more walkable and vibrant, we need to each do our part by continuing to choose to shop, eat and play locally. The more we choose to spend our money in our neighbourhood, the more we support our local businesses and attract new ones to the area.

As we have seen, together we can do great things.

Merrily, merrily Shop Re-opens Saturday

Merrily, merrily Shop Re-opens Saturday

Handmade whale
Handmade whale ready to take home from Merrily, merrily.

Happy news for the parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles of Danforth East! Merrily, merrily is re-opening their pop-up shop – this Saturday, January 10 at 10am – in their new home: 1854 Danforth Ave (right near Oaks ‘n’ Acorns). They’ll be popping up for 6 months (and if we’re lucky, they might just decide to make this their forever home).

The store hours will be 10 to 6, Tuesday – Saturday, and 11 to 4 on Sundays.

If you haven’t checked them out online yet (merrilymerrily.ca), Moxie and Jane carry gently used and very lovely clothing and goods for children, and they sell unique handmade and upcycled pieces by members of our own community. Isn’t the denim whale totally charming? In the upcycled category, they also have reversible, full-body bibs; cool superhero aprons; and neck-cowls made from hockey socks (does it get more Canadian than that kind of cold-weather, artful ingenuity?!).

They’re a consignment shop so your purchases also help out other parents in the neighbhourhood. Jane and Moxie say they are always looking for wooden toys and puzzles, classic books, Padraig slippers, Toms, Converse, Bogs, designer clothing and any other baby and children’s clothing or linens in pristine, like-new condition — so if you have any of those, you have an extra reason to pop in for a visit!

Merrily, merrily pop-up shop
1854 Danforth Ave
10 to 6, Tuesday – Saturday, and 11 to 4 on Sundays

New Pop-up Shop: Merrily, merrily! Only til Dec. 15

There’s a new pop-up shop on the block! Merrily, merrily is open now until Dec. 15 at 1948 Danforth (across from East Lynn Park). Hours are Monday – Saturday from 9am-6pm, Sunday 11am-4pm.
Merrily, merrily provides the very best in original, upcycled & consignment goods for children. Luckily for us, local mums Moxie Garett and Jane McIver have decided to add a bricks and mortar location to their popular online store, Merrilymerrily.ca (named one of the best online consignment stores in Canada by Today’s Parent magazine), starting with a DECA/Woodgreen holiday Pop-up Shop!
Jane and Moxie are excited to meet you and have set up their store to be a warm and welcoming environment for both adults and kids. They’ve even added a nursing station in a quiet space, at the back of the store.
The shop is committed to providing an upscale shopping experience at affordable prices. We love that Moxie and Jane are also helping give back to the neighbourhood by showcasing kid-inspired crafts from local artisans and providing an outlet for families to sell sell their gently used and new items on consignment.
We’ve also just heard they recently received a box full of designer clothes which will be available soon.
The pop-up shop team is looking for a long-term pop-up shop location for Merrily, merrily. Please contact us if you can help: renew@danfortheastcommunityassociation.com

Best Saturday EVER!

Friends, June 7 has the makings to be the perfect Saturday. Here’s why:

#DanforthEast Garage Sale, 8:00am-2:00pm

Our #DanforthEast Garage Sale got a bit of buzz today, thanks to a mention on CBC radio’s Metro Morning and an interview with Bruce (DECA Volunteer who thought up the idea of the big sale) on CBC’s Here and Now.

The MAP for the sale is up! And now the big day is now even bigger & better! (If that link doesn’t work, try clicking here) In addition to over 160 garage sales happening on June 7, 2014, several local retailers will be having sidewalk sales and DECA is hosting the Planet Kid pop-up shop! Snag great deals at:

Follow hashtag #DanforthEast on Twitter to see where the deals are.

Planet Kid 2-Day Pop-up Shop! 9:00am-5:00pm

Exciting news: beloved west-end retailer Planet Kid is bringing their annual studio sale east! Did you check them out today?  If you have or know any kids, there are some SERIOUS deals to be had on high quality stuff.  It’s happening   for 2 days only, and since today was one of them this leaves you only tomorrow to stop in!  See below and our website here for all the details.



Everett Park Opening – 11:00am-1:00pm

In a city where land and space are at a premium, and condos are rising out of every open lot, it’s no small feat to open up a brand new park. And yet, we’re getting one!

Councillor Janet Davis is hosting the official opening of our newest park, located just north of Lumsden running between Oak Park Avenue and Everett Crescent. I’m guessing that the official stuff will happen closer to 11am, but the official Facebook invite says that it goes until 1pm. (And the park lasts forever, so go anytime!)


100 in 1 day – Gledhill School, 2:00-5:00pm

taken from: http://gledhillguardian.com/2014/06/02/100-in-1-day-gledhill-fence-art-saturday-june-7

Looking for a family activity for this Saturday afternoon? Drop by the school yard between 2pm to 5pm and we will be transforming the walkway from the playground to Cedarvale Ave into a work of art! All ages welcome, no sign up required. Valumart is donating some light refreshments to keep us cool!

Gledhill is making a difference!


What is 100 in 1 Day?

On June 7, 2014, for the first time, Toronto will host 100 in 1 Day, a citizen-driven festival that invites individuals, communities and organizations to create acts of urban change (or interventions). Co-presented by Evergreen CityWorks and United Way Toronto, 100 in 1 Day is part of a global initiative where individuals, communities and organizations bring to life 100 interventions that reflect their vision for a better city, neighborhood or community — all on one day. From urban gardens to spontaneous art installations, these interventions have the potential to bring people together, to raise awareness of urban and social issues, to inspire ideas, and to motivate leaders to consider new approaches to old problems.

Channel 64 Photography Exhibit Opening, hosted by LEN, 6:00-8:00pm


LEN would like to invite you to the opening party for neighbourhood local’s (Andrew and Melody Tolson) Channel 64’s photography and encaustic exhibition. Refreshments will be served! 698 Coxwell Avenue (just north of Danforth)

And The Winner Is…

How did last week’s #DreamPopup survey go? In a word: Awesome! As in, the response to our survey, open from Jan. 23-27, 2014, asking what would be your dream pop-up shop, was totally awesome.  A whopping 91 of you took the time to fill in the survey and 44 people battled it out online on Twitter and facebook, creating a truly inspiring conversation about what our ‘hood is lacking (or sometimes appreciating what we already have and introducing your faves to others).

Without further delay, here are the survey results. Drumroll, please…

Question 1: “What kinds of new businesses do you want on Danforth East?” (Note: Results for this question add up to over 100% as respondents suggested multiple businesses.)

# 1. More Restaurants and Pubs – when combined they were the top request (cited by 38% of respondents) with many people specifically citing things like: good quality places, family-friendly, healthy food options
# 2. Bookstore – new or used (cited by 27% of respondents)
#3. Fishmonger (cited by 24% of respondents)
Tie for 4 and 5.
#4. More Coffee shops (cited by 20% of respondents) with some requesting Starbucks
#5. LCBO or Wine shop (cited by 20% of respondents)
Two other top requests were Cheese shop (14%) and Clothing (13%) – boutique, children’s.
The answers we saw on our social media sites were pretty similar, with restaurants/bars/cafes taking the top spot. A bookstore was the next most popular, then a cheese shop (a combined brewery + cheese shop was a particularly popular Tweet, though not the most unusual combo. That honour goes to the suggestion for the lingerie + hardware store. Perhaps we can petition the Home Hardware to start a new side business…).
Other suggestions on Twitter and facebook included clothing (kids’, outdoors), a community hub space (similar to the Centre for Social Innovation; a sewing store; specialized grocers (Korean, Japanese, Mexican); a housewares shop; a “funky” design store; a place to buy really good quality posters you’d want to frame; an art gallery; a water sports store; a food co-op; a music store; a vintage toy shop; a theatre company; large grocery stores like The Big Carrot or Whole Foods and a tea shop.  (Yes, please, to all of these!)
Question 2:  “Why? How would  to convince them to come?”

Answers most commonly talked about changing demographics in the hood, working families, and wanting to walk to shop for all their needs. Some sample replies:
-My own personal goal is to be able to do the majority of my shopping in the neighbourhood. I would much rather support the local economy than big name stores and I would prefer to walk and experience my neighbourhood first hand. I want an opportunity to commit to local businesses – which means they need to take a leap of faith and commit to this community.
-The neighbourhood is changing and supporting more and more quality, specialized businesses.
-We generally have to leave the neighbourhood to go to these places.
-These are the things I most often go outside of our community in order to access. If I could simply walk down the street and purchase these things that are staples in my life, I would be their customer for the duration!
-that young parents looking to stay healthy have moved to the neighbourhood, can no longer get downtown
-the neighborhood is changing. Houses are selling as soon as they go on the market. Lots of young people and young families. It is one of the last neighborhoods right on the subway line that has not “come up” yet!
-All of these things are lacking within walking distance of our neighbourhood. I would way rather walk to do my errands than drive, and I believe that others I’m the neighbourhood share that sentiment.
Question 3: “How often do you shop on Danforth East?”
In total, over 60% (or nearly two thirds) shop 3 or more times per week on Danforth East! (Although those of you who read this blog are arguably more likely to shop locally, we’ll choose to look see this as a good news story.)
Here are the results:
5 times a week or more: 23%
3-4 times a week: 39%
1-2 times a week: 33%
Once in a while: 5%
Not at all: ZERO
So what’s next? Obviously, we won’t be bringing you a pop-up fishmonger anytime soon (Can you imagine the cost of setting up the refrigeration & display units?), but now we’ve got more tools in our belt to take existing businesses, say, Hooked, to petition them to open stores within our stretch of the Danforth. If you want to help try to make these changes a reality, come join our weekly Pop-up Shops lunch meet up or send us an email at Renew(at)DanforthEastCommunityAssociation.com to volunteer.

5 Cool Pop-up Facts & Your #DreamPopup

It’s hard to believe, but it’s only been about a year or so since the first pop-up shops opened in the DECA ‘hood. Since then, all sorts of cool new things that have happened, including an important change we’ve just made to our application process (cool thing #3). Gay Stephenson (cool thing #1), shares 5 things you might not know about the project.

Then we’re turning it over to YOU. Please tell us what kind of businesses you’d like to see in the ‘hood (captain of Team Fishmonger over here…or is that Team Wine Store?). Fill out the survey and shout your ideas from the rooftops on our Facebook page or tweet it using #DreamPopup.

We also want to take this opportunity to send a huge thank you to each and everyone of you. Whether you read this blog for local news, join us for special events, shop locally or lend a hand as a volunteer, THANK YOU – without you, the wonderful things going on in the ‘hood couldn’t happen.


1. We now have two Community Economic Development Coordinators

Working in partnership with DECA’s board, these two share a full-time job at WoodGreen, funded by a grant from the Metcalf Foundation. Tina Scherz and Gay Stephenson, two keen DECA pop-up volunteers were hired in July 2013. Here are some of their goals: filling the empty storefronts, promoting the value of shopping locally and spreading the pop-up shop project to other neighbourhoods.

Congratulations to In This Closet and their landlords Klaas and Mark! This local favourite is now a permanent fixture on the Danforth.

2. Results by numbers

  • 3 pop-up shops are now permanent businesses. Hip, hip hooray! In This Closet,  Fareal Custom Tshirts and  LEN: Democratic purveyors of beautiful things in a new space.

  • 1 pop-up shop applicant skipped becoming a pop-up completely and secured a permanent store of her own. Congratulations to Isabelle of Ankh Yoga at 2017 Danforth.

  • 2 pop-ups shop landlords secured long-term leases after hosting successful pop-ups last year: 1872 Danforth (Canine Social Company) and 1948 Danforth (Canadian Nutrition).

  • In the last six months, 8 new shops have popped up along Danforth East, bringing the grand total participating to 23, since the first launch in October 2012.

  • Nearly 100 volunteers have contributed their talent, labour, expertise, and hundreds of hours to this project.

3. We are changing the way we do things…

Beginning this month, new pop-up tenants can apply at anytime! We’re switching things up a bit so as to have an ongoing intake for tenant applications. The tenant recruitment committee will review applications as they are received. All pop-up shop applicants complete detailed applications, submit business plans and are interviewed by a team which includes local retailers. Find out how to apply for a pop-up shop here.

We are very grateful to all the landlords who participate! We couldn’t operate without you. Building owners receive a minimum of $700 per month in rent to help defray their costs (property taxes, heat, hydro, maintenance and insurance). Tenants also pay a fee of $50 per month to DECA which helps to fund pop-up shop promotions and defray some of the costs. Property owners can find out how to participate here.

4. We’re keeping track

Did you know that pop-up shops keep track of how many people visit each day? They also track their daily sales. This data helps shed light on what’s working well, and what’s not. What have we learned? Shops with beautiful window displays tend to get more foot traffic. When our expert volunteers help pop-ups to beautify their windows, they see immediate results! Saturdays are often the busiest day of the week, and Sundays can be so slow that it’s a good day to close. The south side of Danforth is now attracting far more people than when we first got started.

Eyob outside Cheap Thrills, photo credit Bruce Reeve

4. Fewer vacant storefronts

Have you noticed how many new businesses are moving into the hood? Some recent additions include a beautiful lighting store bella lite, a new yoga studio Ankh Yoga. This week, the Shoe Clearance store opened in their new location at 2000 Danforth, just west of Woodbine. A recent study, conducted by UofT’s graduate Urban Planning students, shows that the percentage vacant stores on Danforth East (within DECA’s borders) has declined from 17% in 2012 to 9% in the fall of 2013. While the number of vacant shops does fluctuate over time, it’s wonderful to see so many new businesses in the hood.

5. A work in progress

Pop up shop are still a relatively new phenomenon, so we keep experimenting, hoping to find out what works best. Some shops come for a month or two, like over the holidays when we hosted  Zilberschmuck Jewellery and Asiri’s Treasures (specializing in alpaca wool fashion from Peru). Other businesses come for six months, hoping to become permanent fixtures in the hood – six month tenancies give these small businesses a better chance to get established than shorter terms.

Are you interested in getting more involved with the pop-up shop project? Click here to join our email list. We’ll send you updates and opportunities to get involved.

Volunteers make this project tick. From expert window dressers, communications professionals, marketing, graphic design, painters, project leaders, handy people, tenant recruiters, landlord recruiters, interviewers, researchers and so much more. We’re learning together and we welcome your involvement.

We’d also like to give a warm welcome to Veritus Pictures at 1801 Danforth Avenue, our newest pop-up shop. Owner James Buffin, a documentary film maker, specializes in “how to” workshops,  and documentary and corporate video production. In January, he’s offering a 50% discount on workshops through Groupon and he also has a store launch special on until the 31st: 10% off everything and 50% off a workshop when you sign up with a friend.

Please stop in and say hello. James is open Tues. & Wed. 1:00-5:30 pm, Thurs. 2:30-6:30 pm, and Fri. & Sat. 1:00-5:30pm.

6. What do you think our neighbourhood is missing?

Now it’s your turn… What do YOU think our neighbourhood is missing? Tell us your wish list and we promise to try and bring those businesses to Danforth East! Don’t be shy, the more responses we receive, the stronger our case for convincing those businesses to come.

Get the conversation going by commenting here on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter (#DreamPopup)- wherever you like to chat. And please fill out this tiny survey.