Thanks to social media promotions and emails from Mark Gleberzon of MJG Gallery on Queen East near Carlaw, I decided to visit the inaugural TOQS (The Other Queen Street) shop, sip and stroll event hosted by the local BIA…it was one of the hottest humid days this summer (so far) – not the most ideal conditions for an asthmatic like myself. I was looking forward to joining the locals in celebrating this groovy neighbourhood known for its vintage and antique stores, home decor, fashion and foodie retailers, but sadly you could almost hear the crickets chirping! There was virtually no focus and no ta-daa excitement for what was advertised as an inaugural annual street festival event. In fact, the street felt and looked more like this….I know it’s hard presenting neighbourhood celebrations but when you have BIA (Business Improvement Association) funding, engaged & motivated retailers/restaurants wanting to reach new customers and thousands of int’l visitors looking for cool inexpensive activities thanks to the PanAm Games, the lack of promotions, publicity and a simple marketing campaign made for a very sad visit to one of my favourite places in Toronto’s downtown area…Leslieville. At least I discovered a fascinating new home decor store and visited a gallery known for supporting local artists. Join me now for a virtual stroll…..
As I walked east from the Carlaw bus stop, I first noticed this lovely store – Home James – featuring home decor, gifts and accessories, all very affordable and a delightful array of treasures.
I spoke briefly with owner/curator James Lane (pictured below) who also does home staging and interior decorating for clients, and he, too, was rather disappointed with the lack of signage, street and lightpole banners.
I was delighted, tho, when I discovered some wonderful art on his walls courtesy of local artists, esp. the charcoal farm animal drawings of Susan O’Neil (below)…I so want the little sheep at the bottom. Isn’t she gorgeous?
Jane Theodore‘s colourful graphic works and greeting cards were also a great find (below)…
….and lots more great art and finds. I spotted several potential Christmas gifts here so I’ll be going back for sure. Please check out the store yourself at 998 Queen St East, Toronto. www.homejamesdecor.com
Next, on to MJG Gallery at 1028 Queen East to visit my friend, gallery owner and artist Mark Gleberzon and thank goodness his A/C was up full-blast. By the time I walked the one block from Home James, the humidity had turned my freshly coiffed hair into a blonde furball and my mascara had melted down my cheeks!
Mark was having a sidewalk sale of art books, wood carvings and art work, taking advantage of what promised to be a busy TOQS Saturday. He was in the midst of re-arranging the gallery, moving some of the massive pieces around so I had fun taking pics of all the paintings leaning up against the walls and furniture….lots of work by some of my fave artists including Mark’s own work (1st 2 pics below). http://mjggallery.com/
I loved the happy robots waving goodbye to gallery visitors (below)….so friendly and cute, they made me smile!
I do hope the Leslieville BIA folks get it together for next year, perhaps even upload the event to their website, too. No, the poster was not there, nor were there any event details of the who, what, where, when, why of TOQS. Their blog which promotes the “latest news” from the neighbourhood shows outdated 2014 posts, nothing about today’s event. There were no balloons, no music, no street food (hey, food trucks are always looking for new locations) and no banners telling passers by to stop and take a stroll along the several blocks of Leslieville.
As a publicist and marketing consultant, I cannot stress enough the need for neighbourhoods and their Business Improvement Associations to effectively use social media for promotions, keep their websites updated, notify local newspapers and bloggers and reaching out to organizations such as Tourism Toronto to attract visitors. You don’t just post something on your Facebook then hope people find you. The potential for today’s event was extraordinary, but sadly they missed the mark by a mile. Next year, I hope to visit a whole new exciting and well-promoted TOQS…I’m rooting for them.