Shop Local for Great Design

Between Victoria Day weekend and Thanksgiving, when we close our showroom on Saturdays, we hit the road and travel throughout Southern Ontario with our bicycles. We seek out quiet country roads and scenic rail trails, which means we have to get out of the city. There’s always a cooler in the back of the truck, just in case we come across a bakery, chocolate store or farm stand. Many weekends, we also throw in a live theatre performance at one of the many professional theatres within a 2.5 hour drive.

It’s on these trips that we have discovered some wonderful small town main streets, where the #shoplocal movement is alive and well. I would much rather stroll along the main street, browsing in unique independent shops, than visit a mall, any day of the year.

There’s still time for a few weekend road trips this season, so I thought I would share some of my favourite finds around Southern Ontario, for home decor and more. This month, I’m sharing three; next month, I will have three more stops.

Orillia, Ontario

Orillia has a thriving creative scene in their historic downtown

Orillia was my most recent discovery. After a Sunshine City Bicycle Tour (in the rain!), we walked the historic main street, along Mississauga Street. There is currently an array of fanciful bicycles on display along the street, as part of an exhibit called Streets Alive – Pedal Powered. Many of the shop windows also feature bicycles decorated to suit the theme of the store. Coming up on August 24 is Starry Night Art & Gallery Tour. If you go, check out some of my favourite decor stops:

  • Makers Market and Northern Joinery, 23 Mississauga St. East
  • 6 Doors Up, 96 Mississauga St. East
  • OC Emporium, 121 Mississauga St. East

If you get hungry, don’t miss Mariposa Market for a sweet pick-me-up and Rustica Pizza Vino for wood-fired pizzas on the patio.

Makers Market features locally sourced and handmade furniture, artwork and accessories, including gorgeous wood and resin tables by Northern Joinery. It has its official grand opening on August 24, but you don’t have to wait until then to visit. 
This is a shot of our favourite Northern Joinery piece (which was already sold!)

Exeter, Ontario

The Huron Country Playhouse, between Exeter and Grand Bend, is part of Drayton Entertainment, which offers professional live theatre at 7 theatres throughout southern Ontario. We have never been disappointed!

Exeter was an unexpected discovery on a recent trip to the Huron Country Playhouse, in Grand Bend. As we passed through Exeter on our first trip to the playhouse, we noticed the many quaint shops along the main street. On our next trip, we decided to stop and check them out. There were several lovely ladies wear stores. Here are my favourite decor stops in Exeter and Grand Bend:

When you’re ready to eat, you have to visit Eddington’s in Exeter.

Sugar and Spice Chocolates sounds like a candy store — and it is! — but they also carry a great assortment of home accessories. 
The Iron Barn in Grand Bend features all sorts of laser-cut metal art made in their local facility. However, we fell for these ‘pickled’ iron wall panels.

Blyth, Ontario

We started going to Blyth last year, and we were hooked from the first visit. The professional theatre is top notch, and there’s an art gallery in the theatre lobby, where the exhibits rotate throughout the season. One of my favourite stops is Pick a Posie for vintage accessories and clothing, although that’s nothing to do with decor. Do not go on a Sunday if you want to browse the shops or eat in the cafe — nothing is open except the theatre.

Blyth is home to the Blyth Festival theatre, featuring Canadian plays. The village of Blyth is small, but every store and cafe is a gem.

These are the best stops for items for your home:

  • Maple & Moose, 398 Queen Street
    • Eclectic selection of locally crafted decor and personal accessories
  • Wonky Frog Studio, 197 Westmoreland St.
    • Hand-crafted pottery
  • Queens Bakery, 430 Queen Street
    • Great food, and a changing array of local art on the walls

Jeanne Grier is an award-winning interior decorator and owner of Stylish Fireplaces & Interiors. With over 25 years’ experience in the Toronto area, she has completed hundreds of makeovers. Her expertise extends to fireplaces, and she is an NFI Certified Hearth Design Specialist. She and her husband Colin operate a retail showroom in the Toronto area, featuring over 50 electric fireplaces, as well as wall coverings and fireplace accessories.