The Genteel
December 12, 2017
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La Merceria is a superlative example of the concept shop.

"Concept stores" provide an unexpected shopping experience by offering a unique mix of brands and products. From trunk shows and pop-up shops to bona fide blended boutiques, with a little searching, one can find these hidden gems in Toronto. With each store offering its own twist on everyday shopping, the concept store is an adventure in browsing and a delight to stumble upon. 

Take for instance the few small retail shops along Queen Street West that have opened their doors (and minds) to a modern take of the trunk show. Every weekend at Love of Mine, one can stumble upon talented jewellers and designers who have opened their suitcases (or trunks, as it were) and are flaunting their wares from the comfort of the popular neighbourhood boutique. At the back of the shop, gems and sparklies, scarves and other accessories are displayed on a makeshift set-up. On a given day, one may find jewellery designer Eliza Kozurno and clothing and textile designer Sarah Stevenson taking a break from their own studios to showcase some of their crafts. This forward-thinking development in sharing is a great way to further expose a store's clientele to bespoke creations.

A pop-up shop is another variant of the concept store and more in keeping with its "multi-product" character. Whereas products for sale at trunk shows are typically in line with the host store's core products, design and clothing pop-ups often rent space in shops that sell items outside of a pop-up's range of merchandise. Shopping becomes all the more exciting when walking into a pottery shop can unexpectedly yield the perfect vintage dress. This month, Fitzroy clothing can be found inside BYOB Cocktail Emporium (also on Queen West) and while there, one can pick up a holiday gift for a wine-loving BFF and a cocktail dress for a holiday party. 
La Merceria

Finally, La Merceria is a splendid shop where a myriad of mediums collide. La Merceria opened in December 2007 and is a coffee shop that also sells beauty products, cosmetics and bedding, among other things. Possibly the most inspiring shop on Adelaide Street, the shop's sweet treats and savoury delicacies fill your stomach while your eyes abound in crafty home décor, all-natural bath and beauty products, a luxurious leather medicine bag and beautiful cotton scarves. The owners, Sandra and Marcelo, created this shopping surprise by blending their lines of work - he's the coffee connoisseur, she's the designer. They understand that the value of what people eat and drink is as important as the objects that surround them while doing so. Sandra notes, "daily activities (eating, drinking, living) become daily pleasures if presented and/or accessorized with beauty. La Merceria is a lifestyle concept where we cater to all the senses."

The concept shop is certainly an undertaking in inventory, especially if going the route of café meets bed, bath and beyond. But from a customer experience perspective, what could be a more pleasant surprise than heading out for one thing, and returning with something entirely different? There are more of these hidden gems in the city, but we'll leave it to you to discover them. 

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