Hamilton Shopping Guide
Recently labelled as Toronto’s “Brooklyn,” Hamilton is on the rise in terms of growth and diversity. With its art crawls, lovingly-restored heritage buildings turned boutiques and bake shops, and recent celebrity endorsements (Guillermo del Toro raved about the bookstores), Hamilton’s quiet cool is a refreshing detour from Toronto’s neon glow.
Here’s our guide to some of the city’s most charming shops.
342 Barton St E, hellobaked.com
You may have spotted Hello Baked’s sugar cookie versions of nail polish bottles, tiny tacos and electric guitars on Instagram’s ‘explore’ page—these edible canvases are the handiwork of owner Jessica Lee. She opened the Hello Baked Sugar Shop (kitty-corner to buzzy brunch spot Motel) in late 2017, continuing her custom cookie orders while dishing out local wares and gift-boxed treats. The pièce de try-to-resistance? The gummy wall, where you can fill a pink cube with whatever combination of jelly ice cream cones, sour watermelon slices, and Champagne bubbly bears your little heart desires.
The Pale Blue Dot
240 James St N, thepalebluedotshop.com
It’s past The Pale Blue Dot’s closing time, but the sign on its door reads ‘11 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day (and by chance!)’, and this is one of those chances—the young woman staffing the antique and sustainable wares shop ushers me in out of the cold. The boutique is a local favourite for good reason: it runs the gamut of old and new, with collections ranging from FAT chalk paint and eco-friendly toiletries to tufted velvet chaises and twinkly chandeliers. If you’re on the hunt for antiques, beeline for The Cave downstairs—a string-lit space filled with pre-loved gems.
150 James St N, osclothes.ca
You’ll recognize O’s Clothes by the word “OYSTERS”, inexplicably tiled into the entryway off James Street. This unisex boutique carries a mostly monochrome assortment of trendy clothes, accented with Wise Men’s Care shampoos and hair clays, neon Japanese lighters and cheeky tees. By popular demand, they just opened 2.O’s—a second location on Locke Street.
128 James St N, prettygrit.ca
Pretty Grit is just that: half glossy ceramics and pastel bath salts, half expletive-laden sass.
Giftables like candles pierced with healing crystals, Pinterest-worthy housewares and T-shirt-soft Turkish towels line the walls, along with the odd statement piece like a palm-frond clock or vintage wingback chair. If you’re looking for a little something-something for a friend, or a wedding gift for your cousin who eschewed the registry, Pretty Grit’s a solid bet.
329 Ottawa St N, antiqueavenue.ca
Down a flight of steps off Ottawa Street North is Antique Avenue. A treasure trove of Eames chairs, mid-century modern meubles, pink PVC lampshades and ‘70s signage. The beauty of this store is less curation and more imagination (I once needed to track down a row of vintage airplane seats—$150 and a 45-minute drive to Antique Avenue and they were mine).
Just remember to bring the uhaul in case you fall in love with a set of mint-green lockers.