Alright, one of the things that has been on my mind since this whole pandemic and lockdown started was small businesses. I’ve always been an advocate of small business. I used to work at a non-profit that helped fund Canadian small businesses a few years back, and it really got me interested in entrepreneurship, but also taught me how important it is for our economy, and our cities/towns, to shop local small businesses.
When I think about why I love Toronto so much, it’s partly because of all the businesses that make it so amazing. My heart aches thinking about some of my favourite, frequently visited spots, may not be able to open their doors again when this is over.
Toronto is one of the most expensive cities in Canada, and rent here isn’t cheap. Taking the step to open a business here is tricky, and not a lot of them thrive and survive during normal circumstances. I’ve already started to see some of my favs close (R.I.P. The Underground, my go-to bar spot since I can remember that has been a go-to spot for many people over the 19 years it had been in business). I’m constantly thinking these days how I can shop local small businesses, and I know it’s not always do-able. I to have been ordering non-stop on Amazon Prime too, but when I (you) can, it’s strongly encouraged!
To inspire you and give you a go-to resource for some great spots in the city for all your needs right now, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite places in the city. Please also comment in the comments some of yours. I’m always looking for new businesses to try out and support. Especially right now!
Did you think I was going to start with anything else? Alcohol is essential right now. How else are we going to get through isolation? If you’ve been following me on my blog for the last few years, you’ll know how much I love local craft breweries. Plus, who wants to wait in line at the LCBO these days anyway?
Here are just some of my local favs that are currently offering delivery or pick-up:
Bottle Shop: Open daily from 12-8pm (Front St. East & Bayview)
Delivery: Free for any postal code starting with “M” from Mon-Fri (order must be $20+)
Bottle Shop: 11am-9pm everyday but Tuesday (Queen St. East & Carlaw)
Delivery: Free shipping for orders over $50, or $10 flat rate. Available for Toronto & Ontario
Bottle Shop: Sun-Thurs 12-9, Friday-Sat 12-11pm (Dufferin & Dupont)
Delivery: Free local delivery (postal codes starting from M2 to M9) for orders over $50, shipping charges apply for smaller orders
Kensington Brewing Co.
Bottle Shop: 2pm-8pm (Kensington Market)
Delivery: Local delivery for minimum orders of $35 + a $5 packing fee for orders under $50
Bottle Shop: 11am-9pm (Wallace & Lansdowne)
Delivery: Free shipping on Ontario orders
Bottle Shop: 11am-11pm (Dundas St. West & Bloor West)
Delivery: Free same day delivery in Toronto & Mississauga, 7 days a week for orders over $50. For orders under $50, there’s a $10 delivery fee
Eastbound Brewing Co.
Bottle Shop: 2pm-8pm (Queen St. East & Broadview)
Delivery: Free local delivery (postal codes starting with M1 to M9) for all orders over $30. Ontario wide shipping for a $10 flat rate shipping fee with no minimums
Black Lab Brewery
Bottle Shop: 12pm-9pm
Delivery: GTA delivery is free for orders over $50 or $15 for orders under. Ontario-wide shipping has a $15 flat rate
This list could seriously be 50+ pages long of me just talking about breweries so I’ve linked additional ones below for you to check out:
Here’s an even more comprehensive brewery list by BlogTO.
I get it, we’re not all beer lovers. Here are some other local small businesses that are offering delivery or pick-up of alcoholic beverages. Keep in mind that a lot of restaurants are also selling booze now too since the government lifted restrictions during the pandemic.
Cottage Springs, Liberty Cider + Grenadier Lager
Delivery: Toronto & GTA delivery with shipping between free to $5 depending on how much you order
The Porch (local bar delivering all your LCBO favs without the line)
Pick-Up: Daily between 12-9pm (Duncan & Adelaide)
Delivery: Same day delivery in the Toronto area when you order before 3:30pm. $10 flat rate delivery fee
Gusto 101 (restaurant with several drink options including their house wine in a bag or bottle)
Pick-Up: 3-9pm (Porland & Adelaide)
Delivery: Order through Skip The Dishes or Door Dash
The Aviary (local bar delivering all your LCBO favs without the line)
Pick-Up: 12-8pm (Front St. East & Bayview)
Delivery: Next day delivery Monday-Friday, call in or email, or visit their online store
*Note: The Aviary & Longslice Brewery share the same home
Missing fancy cocktails from your fav bars? There are several places doing pre-made cocktail deliveries. Check out the full list here.
Plants & Gardening
It’s the season for planting in your garden or your balcony garden in my case. I love making my balcony space super homey for summer, and this year I definitely am craving that outdoor space more than ever. In Doug Ford’s recent announcement, he has let garden centres and landscape businesses reopen in Ontario, however, for people without a car like me, that still isn’t very accessible.
Here are some other local small businesses I’ve discovered recently that can help you add greenery to your space.
This is for indoor plants only. This Ontario-based business delivers houseplants right through your door via FedEx. I ordered two plants from here at the beginning of isolation for my apartment, plus ordered my Mom’s Mother’s Day gift from here too. They are so great & have awesome customer service. Check them out!
There are no shortage of convenience type stores in Toronto that also have little greenhouses along the side or out front their shops. This is a great and easy way to support local and you likely probably have one nearby in your neighbourhood no matter where you live. This year I got my plants for my balcony at Harbord Convenience and Queens Fruits & Flowers. Both in walking distance from my apartment.
Davenport Garden Centre
Pick-Up: At the time of writing this, hours weren’t listed on their website, however, you can place an order via their website for pick-up at any of their 3 locations or delivery
Delivery: Delivery fee of $25
Other options include:
Full list available here.
You can’t escape birthdays and holidays while in isolation. So what are some great options for gifting that supports local but also your friends and family will love? Here are some of my fav spots or places I’ve discovered. Shop these local small businesses and let me know what you think!
Anice has been offering online jewelry making classes but also creates beautiful original jewelry on a budget. Oremme is an old colleague of mines online jewelry business making beautiful rings and earrings. Blu Boho is my fav spot in the city for jewelry who also has an online shop.
Other gift ideas:
- Grey Willow Gifts (gift boxes perfect for any occassion)
- Cocktail Emporium (where I bought my boyfriends boozy themed gift)
- Etsy (sort the search results by Canadian retailers to support in your own country. I’ve been using Etsy to buy greeting cards)
Restaurants (my favs)
There are obviously TONS of restaurants doing delivery and take-out in Toronto. In fact, most are. So I’m not going to list every place in the city you can support, instead, I’ll list some of my fav.
One thing I did want to point out is to be mindful of the different delivery apps you are using and the commission they take away from restaurants. For example, UberEats takes 30% from restaurants, where Door Dash only takes 10%. The best option of course is to call the restaurant directly and either use their delivery options or go pick up your order in-person.
- Blondies (Leslieville, Commerce Court & Ossignton locations)
- Maker (Kensington Market & North York locations)
- North of Brooklyn (Rogers Road, The Village & Queen West locations)
- Gusto 101 (Portland & Adelaide)
- Sugo (Bloor St. West – pick-up only)
- Buono (Queen St. West & Spadina)
- Pai (Duncan & Adelaide)
- Koh San Road (Charlotte St.)
- School (Liberty Village) or Old School (Dundas St. West)
- Fresh (Bloor, Crawford, Spadina, Eglinton, Front)
- Kibo Sushi (too many locations to list)
Restaurant meal kits
With the long grocery store lines and shortage of availability at grocery stores, several restaurants and businesses have shifted from their regular business model to offering different types of meal kits and grocery options for its customers.
Here are some in the city I’ve come across:
- Buca (St. Clair Ave. West)
Homemade pasta, pizza and nodini kits available for takeout and delivery from Wednesday to Sunday
- General Assembly (Adelaide St. West & Peter)
DIY pizza kits for delivery and takeout from 12pm-10pm (Mon-Sat), 12pm-9pm (Sun)
- Mildred’s Temple Kitchen (Liberty Village)
Brunch in a box of your fav brunch items & basic groceries available for pick-up on select days (check their website)
- Tre Mari Italian Bakery (St. Clair Ave. West)
Cannoli, pizza, and tiramisu kits, plus hot prepared meals like homemade lasagnas, and produce/essential grocery items. Available for pick-up and delivery. View fee breakdown here
- WVRST (King St. West)
Sausages, buns, and all the fixings available for pick-up and delivery 11am-9pm daily
- The Aviary (Front St. East & Bayview)
Meal boxes loaded with heat n’ eat options, snacks like charcuteries, sausages, and everything in between. Available for pick-up daily 12pm-8pm and delivery (details online)
- Gusto 101 or 501 (Adelaide & Portland + King St. East)
Restaurant turned marketplace loaded with essential grocery items and fun snack and meal kits. Available for pick-up Tues-Sat 3-9pm.
- The Drake Commissary (Sterling Road)
Freshly made bread and other local grocery items available for pick-up Wed-Fri 11:30am-8pm and Sat-Sun 10am-8pm
- Mother Cocktail Bar (Queen St. West)
From bar to curator of local grocery products for delivery. Delivery cut-off times apply (details online)
Treats & things
We all can have a sweet tooth, and these places are some of the amazing ones in the city that are delivering sweet treats to help you through isolation, or to gift for those isolation birthday’s.
- Craig’s Cookies
- Donuts: Dipped Donuts or Fugo
- Bunner’s (Vegan & Gluten-Free)
- Elchi Chai Shop (read my full blog on them here)
- Hot Black Coffee (also selling wine & things from their window)
- La Gourmand
If you want to skip the traditional grocery stores and shop local, there are some great options that are some of my favs. Unfortunately these spots are a bit out of my radius to practically shop for all my groceries right now, but if you are in the area (or have a car) definitely check them out.
- Unboxed (Dundas St. West)
- Bare Market (Danforth)
- St. Lawrence Market
Check out this extensive list of local grocery stores offering delivery or pick-up in the city.
Health & wellness
I’ve been trying my best to be active every day while in isolation. I’m so used to walking so much, and always being active, so being stuck indoors is tough for me. Thankfully there have been so many great online options for fitness studios to help keep me sane.
Now that we are further into this isolation, many have moved to paid options, however, this is a great way to support local studios you love so they can reopen when this is all over.
- Mula (Paid, sign-up on MindBody)
- Downward Dog (Paid, sign-up on MindBody. Also offer a Thursday night PWYC class every week)
- YYOGA (Paid, all classes are in PST, sign-up on their website. On demand option also available)
- YogaTree (Paid scheduled available via MindBody, free Instagram Lives daily at 12pm, and on demand option also available)
- Pure Yoga (Free daily lives on their instructors Instagram channels. Schedule posted daily here)
- Saana (Paid, sign-up on MindBody. Also offering free Instagram live classes every day at 12pm)
Special shout-out to a few of my go-to teachers:
Angela Morley is also offering live classes on her Instagram (@Angstands_Yoga) on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday. Consider paying what you can to support!
Jonathan & Queenie of Phair Yoga offer an amazing slow flow class every Monday, Wednesday & Friday at 8am on their Instagram (@PhairYoga). Great way to start your day with an easy flow and meditation.
Many teachers are also offering private classes. Now is your time to nail those balances and moves from home & support your favourite teachers.
- Tribe Fitness (Paid, sign-up on MindBody. They also offer community HITT & yoga classes on Tuesday & Thursday evenings via Instagram)
- Elle Fitness (Free daily classes 3-times a day, 7 days a week. They ask that you PWYC to their GoFundMe)
- Sweat & Tonic (Paid, sign-up on their website. They also offer an on demand service + daily free Instagram live classes)
- Barreworks (Paid, sign-up via their on demand service here)
- Common Ground (Paid, sign-up on MindBody)
- Joy of Dance (Paid, sign-up on their website)
- City Dance Corps (Paid, sign-up on MindBody. Plus, occasional weekly Instagram lives)
Looking for round-ups each day for where to find all the live fitness classes your heart desires? Follow the following accounts who curate lists each day:
Some other notable mentions of places doing really cool things right now:
- Culinary Adventure Co. with their Food Tour in a Box. Curating food items by neighbourhood to create fun boxes for delivery that support local
- Ritual has the option to donate directly to the restaurant of your choice without having to even order anything
- Gift cards are available almost at any business and it’s the perfect time to purchase one as a gift, or for yourself to use when this is all over
What are some of your favourite local small businesses? Share below in the comments and don’t forget to do your best to shop local small businesses!