In February I was in Toronto (a 3,400 km trip to see Finnish Battle Metal giants Turisas along with Firewind and Stolen Babies) and on my last day in Toronto I had the chance to walk along Queen Street in the Fashion District and look at fabric and bead shops. I could have spent hours in the fabric stores if I had more time (and an empty suitcase..) but since I was also with a non-sewing friend, it was harder to spend the time I would have liked. However, the bead stores were fair game for both of us, and we popped into a number of different places.
The first place we went was Hi Beads. The front of the store was filled with rhinestone charms, which I don’t think impressed my companion, but had my bling-factor ringing off the charts. I looked for a sheet to write down prices, but the clerk behind the counter said that they just knew the inventory so well, that they knew the prices of all of the loose items. Other items came in packages with prices, but they were true to their word when I checked out – they knew all of the prices!
I ended up getting some sliders (two solid circles, a hollow oval and two hollow squares – stay tuned to my blog for how I end up using them…) along with a rhinestone crown, puffed heart, flat heart, and snowflake. In another section there was even more rhinestone items, where I picked up some rhinestone connectors, and a rhinestone skull. Across the other side of the aisle was a wall full of findings, but I didn’t pick any of those – I honestly was just a bit overwhelmed. If I had a place like this locally it would be easier to pop in and pick up what I needed for a specific project, but regular findings are usually easy enough to find, and a similar price. (Although the special items can be considerably harder to find.)
From there I headed into the back room where everything is $10 or under – full strands of stone, plastic, and semi-precious beads including some great black turquoise skull beads.
In the second aisle, there were a bunch of charms (including some rhinestone ones) where I picked up the skeleton hand and feathers above. I also picked up an owl for my mum (since she loves owls!). Across the aisle was a huge selection of glass pendants and beads.
On the same wall as the charms, there was also a great selection of rondelles. I picked up grey-blue, black, red, and pink set in silver-tone, and clear set in gunmetal. (Like my bling, toned-down necklace.) These were in packages of 8 for $4.50.
Closer to the front of the store, Hi Beads had a fairly large selection of Pandora-style beads. I picked up two packages of black beads, two packages of silvery ones, and a package of clear black ones (which I picked up thinking they were solid black ones). I also picked up two really pretty black rhinestone ones which I really loved. I’ve started making something with these already, a lot like the blingtastic necklace I posted a while ago, though I haven’t quite decided on it yet.
Finally, as I was checking out, I saw an example necklace behind the counter which caught my eye. I had seen these large rhinestone beads in the same section as the skeleton hand and leaves, but didn’t have a real idea for them. The example had a good idea, so I went back and got those too. I’ve strung them up right now mostly to remind me of what my concept was. I’ve divided them with the red rondelles for the time being.
Also, as I was checking out, I guess I spent enough money to qualify for their membership. I didn’t really think that I’d be back in Toronto to use it again anytime soon, but the shop clerk also said that I could order through email. They don’t appear to have a website unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for my wallet!) The membership also gave me a discount on my order right there, and they also gave me a discount for paying for part of my shopping trip in cash. Pretty cool really….
543 Queen St West,
Toronto, ON, Canada
The second place we went was called Bling Bling – they actually had two shops, almost identical to one another, and very close to one another. (So I suppose you could call it the second and third place, but let’s just blend them together and call them the second!) They had a decent selection of charms and beads, but really specialized in semi-precious and stone beads. Here I found the same skull beads I had picked up at the Creative Stitches show in Calgary in the fall. (I can’t recall the price.) I thought the beads were made of a plastic, but they are actually white turquoise. They also had them in a number of other colours. The shop was a reasonable size – enough to have a decent selection, but not so big as to get lost. The staff (in both locations) were present but not looming, greeted us when we entered (and let us store our bags near the counter) and asked if they could provide assistance.
448 Queen W
Toronto, ON M5V 2A8, Canada
The third place we went into was The Beadery. While the store interior is beautiful, I wouldn’t bother going in there again. They didn’t have a lot of selection, and what they did have seemed overpriced compared to what we had seen at the other places. They had a lot of tools at the back, and what looked like a workspace in the far back. The staff didn’t acknowledge us when we came in though, didn’t offer assistance, and when the clerk deemed to look up from her computer, it appeared as though she wasn’t terribly interested in providing any help.
446 Queen W
Toronto, ON M5V 2A8, Canada
I’d definitely go back to Hi Beads if I were in Toronto again, but there’s also a list on a Toronto blog about different bead and jewelry-making options which is worth checking out when making a must-shop list…
I was also looking for a Mjölnir – more commonly referred to as “Thor’s Hammer” while I was shopping. I asked at Hi Beads and at both of the Bling Bling locations – but neither of them knew what I was looking for. (Then I got smart and loaded up a photo on my iPhone, but still no luck.) I didn’t bother asking at The Beadery. So…I’m still looking for that, along with a Valknut (three interwoven triangles) pendant and a Torc-style pendant too. All three seem to be really hard to find, so if you know a local source in Calgary (or Edmonton for that matter – I’ll be up there in April for Paganfest) let me know in the comments below! (But not Sactuary in Edmonton…)