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

Valentine’s Day shopping

Whether you love it, hate it or don’t care about it, Valentine’s Day is coming up on Tuesday. If buying gifts for someone else isn’t on your to-do list, consider this post as ideas for showing a little love to yourself! 

As you can imagine, February isn’t the greatest month for retail. So as you contemplate the pros and cons of Valentine’s Day, consider that it’s a chance to give a little boost to our awesome local businesses. 

Some thoughts and links below:

Off Danforth

Len: Democratic Purveyors of Fine Art & Beautiful Things 
A few doors north of Danforth on Coxwell, this award-winning shop has something for everyone. Witty cards, beautiful art and jewelry, soaps and candles, Toronto-themed artisan gifts, Canadiana, and so much more. Len was one of our first pop-up shops so we love telling you about them again and again. 

Follow their fb page for specific gift ideas and if you are a procrastinator, visit them on Monday until 6pm and they’ll have treats! They also put together this post with lots of ideas.

Old’s Cool General Store – 250 Westlake @ Lumden

Lots of awesomeness at Old’s Cool too but this line of cards is pretty awesome. (You can guess what the Coxwell card might say)

Gotamago – 1231 Woodbine @ Mortimer/Lumsden

Have you been yet? This newish shop is an emerging local gem with lots of handmade things to buy! Their fb page featured this card the other day, for the bearded fellow in your life. 

On Danforth 

There are too many options to go into a lot of detail, but a few have specifically posted for Valentine’s Day so here they are. 

Press coffee books vinyl 2442 Danforth (across from Sobey’s)

If you live east of Woodbine, you have likely spent hours at Press, sipping on a tea or latte and perusing the vast selection of new and used vinyl and used books. Add in a delicious scone to snack on and an eclectic gift selection, and you get the full Press experience. Worth following their fb page even if just for the witty sign boards!

Here are some of their latest gifts on offer (pro tip: you can also by their delicious coffee by the pound)

Moberley Natural Foods, 2044 Danforth

We don’t need to tell you what to buy because they’ve written a blog post to walk you through their best options!

Nooks (multiple locations)

Unless you live under a rock, you know about the Nooks. There are three around East Lynn Park and their Instagram feed is so full of beautiful and delicious looking things, you won’t believe it. Check them out!  @thenookstoronto @nicenookslife @nooksgeneralstore. 

Today they are having a Valentine’s Day market!

Silly Goose Kids, 2054 Danforth 

Because this store is so awesome. And they wrap things for you! If there’s a kid on your list, come here but there are lots so great adult gifts too. 

VII Design & Gifts, 1434 Danforth 

Formerly the Pillow Shoppe, VII has a great selection of pillows, decor and gifts. Look at their beautiful window! Make sure to like their fb page

Broad Lingerie, 1763 Danforth

We are so lucky to have this specialty store in our neighbourhood that caters to “busty” women. Every woman deserves a bra that fits – and there are other things for sale that might help with the Valentine’s Day celebrating.

Merrily, merrily, 1854 Danforth 

Another options for kids stuff, new and used as well as maternity clothes and some handmade gifts.  Also, they are having a grand reopening event today (Saturday) so check that out if you can. The expanded store looks beautiful! And we love telling you that they are another pop-up success!

Other shops

Handwork Dept, 1898 Danforth 

Artisans at Work, 2071 Danforth

Face to Face Games, 2077 Danforth 

Nail House, 2171 Danforth 

Flower Shops
NaNa Florist, 2454 Danforth (east of Woodbine)

Percy Waters Florists, 1360 Danforth

Pretty much all the places along the Danforth will do giftcards so if you don’t want to deal with the crowds this week, buy your special someone a date for another day!
We’ve done lots of local shopping posts in the past so feel free to look through them if this doesn’t do it for you…. 

Shop your neighbourhood!

We put a call out on social media and asked local businesses to send us blurbs for a holiday shopping post. Also included are businesses that support DECA throughout the year, and a link to our Arts Fair exhibitors.

In no particular order, here are some amazing local options for your holiday (and year-round) shopping needs. There are options for all ages in all price points – you can find someone for everyone on your list in our neighbourhood.

This is not a full list of all that Danforth East has to offer; for that you need to take a stroll sometime and to see for yourself.

Festival of Lights Sponsors

Sugarmoon – hair removal and skin care salon, 1509 Danforth

Ages & Stages – children’s consignment store, 1552 Danforth

Art Cave – art classes for all ages, 155 Lamb

Dragonz Martial Artz Centre – 1998 Danforth

Kids Fun Town – indoor playground and party centre, 2040 Danforth

Merrily Merrily – children’s consignment store and DECA pop up shop until Dec 15, 1948 Danforth

Oaks & Acorns – Activity Studio for Parents & Tots 0-6 years, 1856 Danforth

Pegasus Studio – dance and arts studio for all ages, 361 Glebeholme Blvd

Silly Goose Kids – NOW Magazine’s 2014 Reader’s Choice award for best toy store! 2054 Danforth

Melanie’s Bistro – Get 10% off gift certificates on Nov 28 & 29, 1870 Danforth  DEAL

Celena’s Bakery – baked goods, lunch, and custom cakes, 2036 Danforth
Danforth Sandwich – eat in, take out or delivery, open late, 2116 Danforth

Ciraco Custom Framers (1946 Danforth) DEAL

We are having our annual 15% Off Xmas Sale on all custom framing, including custom mirrors and custom chalkboards. Come and visit us to see our in-store specials!


Ciraco Custom Framers was established in 1979.
We maintain the highest standards in customer service and craftsmanship. Our integrity has kept our retail and corporate clients returning for custom framing services for over 35 years.

Presentation is Everything
Visit us at

Jujumama Designs (online – Danforth East Arts Fair exhibitor)

Jujumama Designs design specializes in hand-painted, customized growth charts. They make an excellent gift for children of all ages. We work with families to incorporate the child’s name, style, favorite colors or favorite animals.

**For a full list of 2014 Arts Fair exhibitors, click here**

Face-to-Face Games (2077a Danforth @ Woodbine) DEAL

Face to Face Games Toronto is here to add even more fun to your celebrations! The holidays are fast approaching and what better way to spend the snowy days than with family and friends gathered around a new tabletop game? From November 29th until Dec 31st satisfy your gaming desires with 10% off on all board game purchases made in store.
Happy Holidays Christmas Edition

Moberly Naturals (2044 Danforth)

We are a natural foods grocery store located at 2044 Danforth Ave. in Toronto. Specializing in organic and conventional cooking, baking, and snacking needs, Moberly Natural Foods is your one-stop shop for health! 
For monthly specials (many of which would make great gifts/stocking stuffers) click here

Origin Wellness, Registered Massage Therapy (2017 Danforth)

Take a break from the cold weather and all the stress of the holidays: visit Origin Wellness for a massage!
Origin Wellness — located at 2017 Danforth, behind Ankh Yoga– has been open for 6 months now! If you haven’t met Erin and Yvonne yet, this is a great time to treat yourself to some therapy and relaxation right in your own neighbourhood. Evenings and weekends get booked up quickly at this time of year, so give us a call or book online soon!

Bomb Fitness (1502 Danforth) – DEAL for DECAdiaries readers

Happy Holidays! We have an exclusive offer for DECAdiaries readers – a 4 class FREE trial pass for:

  • All new members AND
  • Past members who have not made an appearance at the studio in 2014

Click on the following link, enter the password “shopthehood” and complete the sign-up process.

Hurry, offer closes December 15th and you have until January 15th to begin your first step towards lifting your own darn suitcase!


Len: Democratic Purveyors of Fine Art & Beautiful Things (698 Coxwell – a few doors north of Danforth)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for shopping local!
We will be open late (until 9pm) on Nov. 29 for the Festival of Lights – and Shop the Neighbourhood…PLUS you can come and see LEN at the Distillery District Christmas Market starting this Friday through December 21!!!


(Pssst – have you heard that Len received Now Magazine Reader’s Choice for Best Design Store? Since this was one of DECA’s first pop-up shops, we are so proud! Congratulations, Len!)

Fa•real Custom Tees (1900 Danforth) 

This great custom t-shirt shop is a DECA pop-up shop success story!
FCT Christmas Flyer
(416) 696-Tees (8337)

Wag on the Danforth (1918 Danforth)

Welcome to Wag on the Danforth, a family-run business that carries a wide variety of all natural foods for dogs, cats, small animals and birds. Because we are a small store, we are willing and able to run that extra mile to find ~ or special order ~ the product that’s right for your pet companion.


(Another NOW Magazine Reader’s Poll WINNER, for best pet store!)

Canine Social Company (1872 Danforth)


The Pillow Shoppe (1434 Danforth)


Royal Beef (1968 Danforth)


We opened Royal Beef over 25 years ago with the vision of bringing quality meats at reasonable prices to neighbourhood families.  Never losing sight of our that vision, we have expanded the store to include cheeses, gourmet groceries and deli items.

Priding ourselves on the craft of butchery, we source the best of naturally-raised, hormone-free meats from close to home.  Featuring Mennonite-raised chicken, Berkshire pork, in-house made deli meats free of nitrates and more.  Just this year, we discovered a great angus beef from Prince Edward Island raised naturally without hormones.  We think it is the best Canadian beef yet!

The rest of the world has a lot to offer as well.  I love importing cheeses from Italy, olive oils from Spain and Portugal, and the best olives from Greece.  Just a sampling of what you will find in our gourmet grocery section.

Always striving to bring you the best, we believe great meals start with great ingredients.   If it’s not good enough for our table, it’s not good enough for yours.

Artisans at Work (2071 Danforth)

Local artists and artisan market right at Danforth and Woodbine.

Sugar Me Up (1792b Danforth) DEAL

Join us for our Christmas Specials to get a Facial and Dermalogica Products for 10% OFF.

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…