Marking our #DECAde, Part 3: Making change 

For this series of blog posts marking our #DECAde, we are looking back on where DECA started, how far we’ve come and where the next 10 years might take us and our neighbourhood. We are including interviews with some of DECA’s founders and other info and tidbits from DECA’s “archives”

2014 DECA Board

Making Change

Parts 1 and 2 of series described what the neighbourhood was like 10 years ago and how a group of people came together to start DECA. This post is about what  happened next. As you know, fair reader, the DECA Diaries blog was our only communication tool for many years before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram helped us expand our reach. Lovingly written by DECA’s founding Chair, Natasha Granatstein from 2008-2011 when every post was written on an actual computer (not on an iPhone like this one) and event posters were still actual pieces of paper and not JPEG files so the words that Natasha wrote had to be crafted carefully – and they were.

In the past nine years of the blog (it began as an email newsletter), we have posted 1160 times. Each post takes anywhere from 20ish minutes to a few hours of someone’s spare time, to help get the word out about our community. More than 1200 people subscribe to the blog and many more read it via Facebook and Twitter. The blog is now managed by a small team of volunteer bloggers and a volunteer editor (yours truly). Turns out, the blog is also our unofficial archive.

Here’s a look back courtesy of the blog at some of what we’ve done to change the neighbourhood over the past #DECAde. 

January 2009: First Store Makeover  

The store did so well after this makeover, the owners bought their own building and moved a bit west where they remain today.

July 2009: Square Dancing at the Market

Our weekly market posts didn’t start until a few years in, but this post was a sweet reminder of a wonderful night at the market (in its third year by 2009) where people of all ages came to square dance! 

September 2009: First Danforth East Arts Fair

November 2009: Our first annual cocktail party (that was secretly also our AGM)  at Melanie’s Bistro. No e-version of the poster back then so the blog post is our only proof!

November 2010: First Pumpkin Parade

December 2012: First Tree Lighting at East Lynn Park 

January 2012blog post about Australian  Marcus Westbury’s innovative “pop-up shop” model to deal with high commercial vacancy

March 7, 2012 – Marcus Westbury was in town so we hosted an event with him!

May 2012 – carrot gets a buddy: the birth of the broccoli costume!

What shows a deeper commitment to improving one’s own community than dressing as vegetables to promote our local farmers’ market during rush hour?!

Veggies promoting our Farmers’ Market

October 2012: First Pop-Up Shops

This was back when it was solely run by a team of DECA volunteers, based on the Renew Newcastle model we learned about earlier that year. Incredible!

June 2013: First #DanforthEast Yard Sale

April 2014: #DanforthEast Dreams event

We asked you what you wanted for our neighbourhood and mapped it and made a video found in this follow-up blog post. (The post also shows our first laneway revitalization effort more than three years ago!)

April 2015: DECA Gems neighbourhood competition

It was a total love-in and so many people learned of new places to shop, eat, play, get their car fixed, hem a skirt, get a haircut, buy flowers and on and on. Search the hashtag #DECAGems on our fb page or blog to look back. Anyone remember who won?

December 2015: First DECA Connects fundraiser – Sleep Out for Syrians

DECA’s social justice group launched with this fundraiser where participants slept outside (in December!) to simulate what Syrian refugees were experiencing for months in camps. The goal was $10k. In the end, we raised $28,500, helping  several Syrian families come to Canada.

June 2016: First DECA Pride LGBTQ+ event 

We have a thriving LGBTQ+ community in the east end but no groups or events. DECA Pride changed that!

June 2016: First Table Tennis for Tuition 

To raise money to support the $2000 DECA Young Leaders Scholarship established in 2016. 

This has been an amazing decade-long experiment in being positive and making changes that many people say have transformed our neighbourhood. 
Want to join us?

DECA memberships are $10/household to support our community initiatives including our weekly Farmers’ Market, Diversity Scholarship, annual Arts Fair, Pumpkin Parade, Tree Lighting Festival, #DanforthEast Yard Sale, DECA Pride LGBTQ+ group and more! Sign up here

If you want to get in touch, send us an email

New Pop-up Shop Alert! Asiri’s Treasures & Avani Creations

Asiri’s Treasures and Avani Creations Pop-up Open Today!

There’s a new pop-up shop opening in the ‘hood as of today, Wednesday March 3rd, at 698 1/2 Coxwell (just north of Danforth)  beside LEN, Democratic Purveyors of Fine Art and Beautiful Things!

Daisy Ojeda, owner of Asiri’s Treasures (remember her and her beautiful knitwear from last winter’s pop-up shop?) and Jessica D’Silva , owner of Avani Creations have joined forces to bring us a collective of hand-made artisan products including organic cotton dresses and alpaca wool sweaters from Peru and vintage style leather bags, and paper journals, handmade locally. They also carry products such as unique hand painted ceramic knobs for vintage furniture, and printed table cloths and napkins.


Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 7pm

Sunday 10am – 5pm

Monday – closed

Stop by and say hello! Doors open Wednesday March 3rd at 10 am. Watch our Facebook page and Twitter for photos of the storefront.

Avani creations AsirisTreasure-sweater

Small Biz Forum, October Pop-up Updates & Help Needed!

Calling all graphic designers!

We’re putting together a fabulous brochure for the holidays (top secret, but watch your mail in November), and we need a little extra help. If you’re an experienced designer and available to volunteer your serivices in the next 2 weeks, please send us an email: renew(at)

Pop-up shops news

We’re happy to report that most of the pop-up shops we launched this summer are still around, going strong and heading into their 5th month in the Danforth East community! Check out our website for the shop locations, hours and details.

Here’s the latest:

Yummy Stuff

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and the fantastic bakers at Yummy Stuff have been busy creating a mouth-watering menu. The flyer will be posted at the shop too so you can place your orders in person, by phone or email, info(at) Apple Ginger Torte, anyone?


Tons of new fall fashions have hit the floor, and all are priced at the amazingly wallet-friendly deals E-Closet specializes in. Natasha has also changed her hours to match the season and is now open Monday-Saturday 11-6.

In This Closet-Thrift For Her

Our favourite bright pink store has also changed up their hours for the season and are now open Monday-Friday 10-8 and Saturday 11-7. Colleen and Christina have also put all jackets and blazers on special this week–all are 20% off!

Cheap Thrills

We’re thrilled that Eyob and Jonathan are extending their pop-up shop for the month of October. They bring in new products every week, so you really do need to pop by to visit again if you’ve only been once. They’ve also done a little reorganization of the store, starting with an awesome new window display.

Krystle Lee

Krystle is back to doing her signature private appointments only, but be sure to follow her on her social media to find out about her seasonal sales and all other Krystle news.

Plus, stay tuned for even more pop-up shops. We’ve been working hard to bring you more stores for local shopping options this holiday season. We’re still accepting applications from potential tenants until Tuesday, Oct. 8!

Succeeding as a Small Business forum

Back by popular demand,  the Toronto Danforth Federal Liberal Riding Association is holding another forum for all interested small businesses on Oct. 15, 2013 at the Estonian House (958 Broadview Ave.), 7-9 pm.

Katherine Roos Manager, Small Business, Economic Development and Culture, City of Toronto, will be speaking and local business owners from LEN and Lazy Daisy Cafe are among the breakout session leaders.

If you run a small business or are interested in starting one, you’ll definitely want to check out this event.

2013 Small Business Forum - Poster - Final

This September, Show Our Locals Some Love

September Shop Local Campaign

Have you seen those beautiful Shop Local posters in store windows lately? Our fabulous Pop-up Shop Project co-ordinators, Tina and Gay, put together the campaign to celebrate our local businesses and remind you to show them some love this September. Details are up on our website. We’ve also started collecting pics of local September features and specials on Pinterest (excuse the orientation–we’ll figure out how to rotate those suckers soon).

Tina explains what it’s all about and gives some reasons why shopping local is important:

If you’re an avid follower of this blog then chances are you already support the local businesses. But did you know research shows that a dollar spent at a locally owned store is usually spent 6 to 15 before it leaves the community? By contrast, a dollar spent at a national chain store results in 80% of that dollar leaving the neighbourhood immediately (cited from Northwest Earth Institute for Sustainable Living.) It’s gotta feel good to know that your hard-earned money is staying within the community several times over when you shop locally!

Throughout the month of September, keep your eyes open for the Shop Local posters throughout the ‘hood. These posters will highlight new products, services, and maybe even a deal or two from the local businesses. And here’s what you can do: spread the word! Snap a photo of a poster and post it on your preferred social media site (but don’t forget to include the name of the store it’s from!)  Word of mouth really is the best way to share all the great things our neighbourhood has to offer.

And if you needed more reasons to shop locally, read on for 10 benefits of shopping locally.


Locally owned businesses create jobs in the neighbourhood and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.


A marketplace of many small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long term.


A multitude of neighbourhood-based small businesses, each selecting products based on their knowledge of the needs of their local customers, not on the decision of some distant executive and a national sales plan, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.


Danforth East offers an eclectic mix of shops — some with a long tradition in the area, some brand new.  By choosing to support locally owned businesses, you help maintain our diversity and distinctive



Dollars spent in locally owned businesses have three times the impact on your community as dollars spent at national chains. When shopping locally, you simultaneously create jobs, fund more city services through property tax, invest in neighbourhood improvement and promote community development.


Locally owned businesses build strong neighbourhoods by sustaining communities, linking neighbours, and by contributing more to local causes.


When the businesses in an area are locally owned, the important decisions are made locally, by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.


Local stores along main streets require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big-box stores and strip malls.


Entrepreneurship fuels North America’s economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of lowwage jobs and into the middle class.


Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable neighbourhoods, which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.

Adapted and reprinted with permission of Stacy Mitchell, The Institute for Local Self-Reliance and

September Shop Local PosterEvent Alert: Jim Diers

Speaking of building vibrant communities, make sure you save the date for the evening of September 17. We’ve got an inspiring speaker you won’t want to miss. More details in DECA Diaries to come soon…

‘Tis the Season for Ontario Produce & Pop Up News

Farmers’ Market: ‘Tis the Season for Ontario Produce

It’s late August which means one thing.  Basically everything is in season.  I’m not talking faux floral prints or modern stripes.  I’m talking peaches, tomatoes and basically all the best Ontario fruit and vegetables.  Check out Foodland Ontario’s chart of what’s in season.  Pretty much everything is in season right now except asparagus.  Now is the time to get out and support our farmers!

Fresh, juicy Ontario peaches!
Fresh, juicy Ontario peaches!


Councillor McMahon showing off a new product from Steacy at Primeridge Pure - Cheesecake Mousse!
Councillor McMahon showing off a new product from Steacy at Primeridge Pure – Cheesecake Mousse!
What could you make with these two ingredients?
What could you make with these two ingredients?

The East Lynn Farmers’ Market runs every Thursday from 3-7 p.m. between June 6 – October 17 at East Lynn Park, located on the south side of Danforth Ave, just west of Woodbine Ave. Stay up to date by visiting the new East Lynn Market Facebook page.

Pop-up Shops Updates

Yummy Stuff will be closed Wed.-Sun. this week for a little well-deserved break. Morag and the team will be open after Labour Day with a new cupcake flavour of the month.

And just in time for Back-to-School shopping, E-Closet has a big Fall Savings sale on now. Everything is 30% off (except bamboo bottoms and already reduced items). Natasha also has a contest on to win $100 shopping spree.

In This Closet is also having a big end of season sale. Starting this Friday, everything in store will be 30% off until Sept 6th.  Hello, new fall wardrobe!

Pop-ups: Deal of the Week & Updates

Pop-up Shop Deal of the Week

This week’s deal comes from the fabulously stylish Krystle Lee pop-up boutique:

All Spring/Summer Tess Barbieri tops will be $25 this week! Tess is a local designer who uses eco-friendly (and incredibly comfortable) fabrics. If you haven’t seen this versatile clothing line yet, now is the perfect opportunity to stop into the shop.


Krystle Lee | 1517 Danforth Avenue
Tuesday – Friday 11 – 7 | Saturday 11-6 | Sunday  – Private Appointments / 11-5

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Pop-up Shop Updates

Cheap Thrills has scored some more fantastic bedding deals. Jonathan wants you to know: “We have a BOATLOAD of new bedding items coming in this week. All are new from 2 department store chains although the packaging may be missing or damaged. So if you love packaging this may not be for you…

Most items are 50-75% off actual retail prices or better. Like $230 Memory Foam Mattress Tops for $25…that’s almost 100% off” Woo! Who needs packaging anyway?

Cheap Thrills have made an adjustment to their hours and will be closed on Sundays starting this week.

In This Closet have also tweaked their hours this week. They are now open Mondays (11-7) and closed Sundays.

And finally, there’s still time to complete your Pop-up Passport for a chance to win a big bag of awesome FREE stuff.  No purchase necessary, just get your passport signed by the participating stores by July 31. The prize packs include:

You can pick up a passport at the Thursday East Lynn market or in any of the stores mentioned above.

DECA’s latest round of pop-up shops will be open for up to 6 months on the Danforth. Get all the SHOP DETAILS here. Please support our community’s efforts to revitalize our commercial strip by taking some time to visit and support these exciting pop-up enterprises.