The top 10 places for students to shop in Toronto

Posted by Alice Prendergast / SEPTEMBER 1, 2015


The top places for students to shop in Toronto will have you thriving on a budget. Once you’ve dropped most of your hard-earned dollars on tuition and textbooks, you’re going to need to find some places to accommodate you and your last few pennies. From tech accessories to furniture, these places have got you covered.

Here are my picks for the top places for students to shop in Toronto.

Tap Phong
Chances are your new digs won’t have stainless steel kitchen complete with Kitchen Aid mixer and Vitamix, but that doesn’t mean you have to resort to cooking with plastic cutlery you stole from the closest McDonalds. Tap Phong sells restaurant-grade kitchen supplies, from cutlery to pots and pans, at a very reasonable prices. Also try the Kitchen Plus Stuff Outlet and Cayne’s for deals on essentials.

Once you’ve moved into your shoebox-sized dorm or apartment, you’ll probably want to make it look more homey. Umbra offers a ton of new student essentials, with all things you’ve never dreamed you’d need like hangable vanity organizers and shoe racks. If you’re on the hunt for bedding, Homesense and Beddington’salso offer some good deals on sheets, pillows, and duvets.

What is a student apartment without a LEIRVIK bedframe or KALLAX storage unit? The Swedish homeware giant is known for affordable furniture, and now that you’re out of the nest with a limited budget, it’s time to get yourself some of their cost-effective pieces. If you think having the same furniture as your neighbour is a faux pas, try Small Space Plus or rental company Livio Furnishing.

When you’ve got minimal space to work with, you have to stay organized. Binz (very aptly named) sells all the storage you need at a fair price. They also have a few kitchen pieces that will help you with food storage, like tupperware and water bottles. If you have a few extra bucks, MUJI also sells acrylic, plastic and linen storage pieces.

Essence of Life
Initially, you may find great pleasure in eating a solid diet of Kraft Dinner, but that’s bound to change down the line. Once you’ve reached your maximum intake of carbs, head to Essence of Life to find healthy alternatives for prices lower than Big Carrot. Other inexpensive grocery options include Grande Cheese Factory Outlet,Shasha, Peek Freans Cookie Outlet and Almost Perfect.

To succeed in school, you’re going to need the right tools. Luckily, the GTA is stocked with places catering for your technological needs. Apple tends to reign supreme in Toronto schools and they have deals that will get you add-ons (like Beats headphones) when you purchase your computer. If you’re a photography student, hit up Aden (it’s much cheaper than popular places like Henry’s).

Above Ground
Above Ground is an OCAD student’s dream, selling everything an artist could possibly need. From gesso to moulding clay, the stock seems almost unlimited – and lucky you, with a student card everything is 10% off. If you’re not in reach of Above Ground, there’s also Curry’s which offers the same discount to students, so you won’t have to pay full price for a paintbrush until graduation day.

Vidal Sassoon Academy
Often considered a period of self-discovery, you’re career as a student may bring your look to new heights. Maybe you want to buzz off your locks or die your whole head purple, regardless, there are plenty of salons with affordable pricing. Vidal Sassoon Academy is always looking for hair models and have very affordable rates. Alternately, try Parlour or Onyx for cuts (both offer student rates).

Kind Exchange
Kind Exchange will have you looking fashionable while keeping your wallet full. They offer buy, sell, trade and donate services, which means you can actually turn a profit off your old clothes or swap them in for something new. Other student clothing favourites include MEC, TOPSHOP (because who doesn’t love a 10% student discount), Winners, and the Banana Republic Factory Store.

Designer Shoe Warehouse
If there’s something you should never be without, it’s a nice pair of shoes. DSW offers endless options from Guess booties to Converse high tops at discounted rates. If you’re in the market for athletic shoes, try SVP Sports on Queen West, you’ll find Nikes, Adidas, and more for lower prices than at your average athletic store.


Pencil Skirts & Playdates: Kind Exchange

JULY 5, 2015


photo 2 (1)

I love clothes and I buy a lot of them.  Because of this, I have to clean out my closet a few times a year, with usually the biggest overhaul taking place in the spring/early summer.  Add a couple of kids closets to this job and it can make for a pretty daunting task.

Here are some of the questions I ask myself to help get me through a closet purge:

1. Have you worn it in the past year?  Think about the last 12 months…winter, spring, summer, fall…did you wear it? If not, toss it. Fancy dresses (and suits for guys) are the exception to this rule.

2. Does it make you feel good when you put it on?  If not, why are you keeping it?

3. Have you owned the item since high school (if that was 10+ years ago)?  During my last closet purge, I came across a pair of well-worn Mavi jeans from grade 11.  Grade 11! I had been keeping them because after each of my pregnancies, I wanted to see if I could squeeze back into them.  Squeeze I did, but there is no way I would wear them out in public…even if flares are back in style. Toss!  There are also exceptions to this rule. Such as my gold platform prom shoes that I am keeping for my daughter.  I know she will love to play with them one day.  Maybe even wear them to her prom. Haha.

4. At the end of your clean out, hang your hangars backwards.  Each time you wear an item, put it back on the hanger and turn it around the proper way.  Next time you clean out your closet, you’ll be able to identify which pieces you haven’t been wearing.
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5. If you haven’t worn the item in a long, long time, is there someone else in your life who would enjoy it?  Let’s say you have a green leather Matt & Nat clutch.  You haven’t used it and you only bought it because it was on sale at Winners.  Five years ago.  Your best friend LOVES everything Matt & Nat so give it to her.  It feels good to recycle.

Speaking of recycling…

Last year, a Kind Exchange opened near my home.  I love having it close by.  They are always willing to take my unwanted clothes.  You can give yours too, just follow these steps:
1. Visit and find your closest location.
2. Take in your bags of used clothing, shoes and/or accessories.
3. The Kind Exchange will sort through your items and decide which ones they want and they will make you an offer – you can take it as cash or they will keep it on file for you as a store credit for the next time you shop there.  You can also trade your stuff for items in the store right then and there if it works out.
4. They will give you a pile of clothes that they don’t want (don’t be offended – they can be picky and get a ton of great stuff all the time). You can choose to donate them (Kind Exchange will pass them along to one of their favourite charities for you) or walk away and take them to Goodwill, who will take anything.

The Kind Exchange is such a great addition to our neighbourhood.  I’ve seen everything in there from Coach and Burberry to Joe Fresh and Jacob. Unlike Value Village, it has all been carefully curated with stylish and fun windows that look like a boutique, and not necessarily a second-hand shop.  I hope in the future my Kind Exchange will start taking mens and childrens clothing. A Kids Kind Exchange would be a welcome alternative to Value Village for some parents.

Kind Exchange, I’m bringing more bags your way :-)


10 fashion stores in Toronto to follow on Instagram

Posted by Natalia Manzocco / MAY 16, 2015

There’s tons of amazing fashion inspiration to go around in Toronto – as our most gifted photographers, designers and bloggers prove. But Toronto boutiques might run some of the city’s best Instagram accounts – after all, if you’ve got tons of awesome stuff in stock, why not stage a mid-afternoon photo-shoot montage? (I might only have a vague idea of what running a store is like.)

Here are my picks for the top Toronto fashion stores to follow on Instagram.

A little girly, a little fashion-forward, and not-so-secretly Canadian – this Ossington boutique uses Instagram as an opportunity to show off their latest finds from indie designers from around the country. Expect cute prints, whimsical jewels, and the odd wacky prop.

If aesthetically-curated Instagrams are your bag (pun intended), look no further than this indie handbag designer, whose feed is a flawless sea of geometric images in black, white and metallic gues. (Oh, yeah, and the bags are pretty gorgeous, too.)

Here’s one for the fellas. It’s not tough to make Raf Simons and Comme Des Garcons pieces look good, but the West Queen West menswear store takes it to the next level with crisp photography and gorgeous street style images.

North Standard
There’s something soothing about this Parkdale shop’s Instagram feed – maybe it’s the wooden floors and soft, warm lighting, or the cozy-Canadiana feel of their merch (lots of Bay blankets, macs and Wellingtons).

Penny Arcade Vintage
This Dundas West vintage shop’s Instagram is a mix of the store’s own recent finds, hazy ’90s-style photography, and moody modern art – in short, the perfect mood board for vintage lovers.

Parloque has never shied away from the avant-garde, but the West Queen West shop has grown into showing at FAT, hosting in-stores and working with local brands – all of which means even more inspiring images of what they’re up to.

The ultra-laid-back vibe of this half-new, half-vintage shop on Queen comes through in their Instagram posts, which might show off patch-encrusted jean jackets in one frame and an action shot of vintage L.L. Bean boots in the next. (If you don’t already want to plaster Explorers Press pins on everything you own, you will now.)

Canon Blanc
Do you slavishly read every “how to get French-girl style” blog post that comes past your eyeballs? This all-French, all-the-time boutique on Queen is a must-follow – feast your eyes on chic, pastel-hued snaps of the latest imports from Petit Bateau and Anniel.

A Homerun
Yeah, clothes are great and all, but sometimes you just want a photo of mid-’90s Mariah Carey and Will Smith hugging it out. Even when they’re showing off their latest vintage pieces, this Kensington vintage shop isn’t afraid to get weird – lots of reflective visors, socks with slogans on them, and weird party decorations.

Kind Exchange
As far as eye candy goes, Toronto’s resale mega-chain is hit or miss – there’s staffers at different stores all taking pics, after all – but it’s a surefire way to learn about that dope new pair of shoes or leather jacket that just popped into your neighbourhood location, and grab it first. Think of it as your secret weapon.


The top 10 places to buy a cheap winter coat in Toronto

blogto says: Kind Exchange
Toronto’s most ridiculously fast-growing chain of resale clothing stores is now accepting winter-wear – look for used coats to keep trickling into stores as the weather turns. A recent visit to their Queen and John location turned up name-brand peacoats at around the $50 mark. And if you come up empty, just head to another location – there’s one in your neighbourhood, and your neighbourhood, and yours, too.


Kind Exchange teems with a trove of treasures

By: Rita Zekas

Kind Exchange, 1940 Queen St. E.

There are 10 other locations in the GTA.

Intimidation factor: Minimal. The space is bright and airy with pop music blaring; all they need is an open bar.

Number of salespeople on floor: One, who is dealing with a steady trickle of people bringing in clothing.

Response time: Immediate.
The staffer greets me from the back under a pile of merchandise. (See above.)

Vibe: Value Village meets early Kensington Market.

Price range: From $3 for a bracelet to $199 for a Lucky Brand tan suede bomber with intact original tag of $499.

Rating: Three Michael Kors tunics out of four.

I kept seeing women with bags urging “Be Kind.” They were from Kind Exchange, which offers cash or trade on the spot for clothing, shoes and accessories. If you donate them, a portion of the sale proceeds goes to charity.
My friend Claire checked out the Kind location on Yonge St., south of Wellesley (there are 11 in Toronto) and pronounced it “better than Winners.” She spent two hours and dropped $100, which is challenging considering the median prices are in the $20 range.
I do a drive-by there and it’s DIY, you need to hunt and peck. The sizing is random; small mixed in with large, although tending to the smallish. Claire must have picked up all the adult sizing.
I troll through the racks – there is everything from rompers and jumpsuits to fake-fur purses – and find the “Staff Picks” rack most promising. I pick out a ’40s style tweed jacket with a Holt Renfrew label priced at $33 but it’s too snug.
Next day, I cruise by my local in the Beach, open for four months. Right at the get-go, I fall hard for a pair of Converse leopard slip-on sneakers going for $25. Rats! They are a half size too small. Ditto a pair of brand new neon yellow suede booties at $19.
Now they’re really killing me with Kindness: a pair of fabulous Isabel Marant tribal-print jeans are $34 but they would only fit a hand puppet.
There are some higher-end labels like Ralph Lauren, BCBG, Michael Kors and Calvin Klein but mostly middle-of-the-roadies from Banana Republic and Jones New York to H&M and Forever 21.
A charming $35 yellow-print cocktail dress by Sandra Angelozzi screams instant party. Ditto a $45 white brocade vintage-looking frock by Marc Jacobs.
What’s this? A graphic print skirt by Max Mara, made in Italy for a mere $15. Seriously? Off to the dressing room to try it on. It’s waaaay too small. That’s what I get for wearing reading glasses while pawing through the racks. Things are not as big as they appear.
The air-conditioning is not working and the dressing room is a sweat box. I emerge dripping like a rain forest and scour the store seeking a mirror. Too bad I didn’t look on the outside of the dressing-room door. They need more accessible mirrors.
A woman is checking out pants. I suggest she try on the Isabel Marants because I want them to go to a good home.
Footnote: I give the Annex location (Bloor and Bathurst) a shot. It purportedly has the best men’s selection and the Beach store doesn’t carry menswear.
The menswear is cool, especially a pair of kick-butt cowboy boots. But for me, the standout is a D&G khaki sleeveless vest that’s a pinch too tight at the armholes. It has no price tag.
“It’s 50 bucks, already pretty cheap,” says the staffer.
Not if you can’t move your arms.

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.


“Recycling is Sexy” by View the Vibe

View the Vibe interviewed Talia Schlanger on September 23, 2014: “..I’m really much more of a second-hand gal when it comes to clothing. I love vintage finds (especially for shoes and jackets) and can’t get enough of The Kind Exchange in Toronto for that purpose. Just like their name implies, they’re all about socially conscious consumerism, which is really important to me. They buy, sell, trade, and donate second-hand clothes. Some of my favourite items are from there, and it always feels good to support a local business that makes recycling sexy. I will always think recycling is sexy.”


We’re in the Top 15 Coolest Neighborhoods in the World

We’ve always thought it’s a cool neighborhood and now so does Vogue. Read why Vogue calls our locations on Queen St. one of the 15 Coolest Neighborhoods in the World.


Meet Kind Exchange, Toronto’s Trendy Big Sister

Claudia McNeilly introduces the readers of the Toronto Standard to Kind Exchange.



If getting dressed conjures images of wails that drawl, “I have nothing to wear” amid a landfill of clothing, meet King Exchange. The store boasts ten locations in the greater Toronto area that all share the same goal: be kind to your wallet, environment, closet, self and community. And, for those who frequent the Kind Exchange clothing racks, the company has done just that.

Its strength can be attributed to the Ontario-born brand’s penchant to only sell used clothing. Where, unlike the high-end vintage stores and dizzying Goodwill’s of Toronto, Kind Exchanges feature well-maintained collections of gently worn, affordable clothes for men and women. However, reselling used clothing isn’t all the Toronto company holds itself accountable for. Included in its “Buy. Sell. Trade.” mantra is the option to donate: every Kind Exchange boasts the invitation to recycle and donate clothing to local charities.



Kind Exchange



This is, in part, what makes shopping at King Exchange feel like sipping a sweet cocktail of good intentions. Only instead of leaving with the guilt of an impending hangover, you leave with new clothes. But unlike other shopping experiences, where the end of a retail rush leaves you prickling with a heavy bag of clothes and an even heavier Visa bill, Kind Exchange eliminates the latter.

Most items in store range from $10 to $20, with exceptions for individual pieces depending on factors like brand name and whether or not you’re selling an original flapper dress from the 20s. Admittedly, with the haze of inviting prices in store, it can be hard to cut yourself off and remember that “no, you don’t need a hot pink leopard print mumu.” In case of emergencies such as this, a tip to the wise: bring clothes to swap for store credit on your next trip and watch yourself leave with a bag of free finds depending on how much you bring.

Of course, nothing is perfect and Kind Exchange won’t be taking the ratty 2003 leftovers in a bag at the bottom of your closet any time soon. They are, however, extremely open to contemporary everyday labels like H&M and Zara. This is nice for anyone who doesn’t have a closet full of vintage Givenchy but still wants to sell or trade his or her regular human pieces.


Kind Exchange


The idea of a consignment store balanced somewhere between high-end vintage and “fill a bag for $10” Goodwill (respect), is a foreign idea and can be confusing to understand. Despite the extremely familiar concept of vintage and secondhand, the notion of affordable boutique contemporary consignment is largely unheard of. This is why we spoke to Kind Exchange buyer Rebekah Hakkenberg to find out what the company looks for when it buys pieces to hang on its colourful racks:

“We don’t discriminate,” she says.

“We’ll take anything that we know could be an exciting find for somebody’s wardrobe. There are a lot of consignment stores out there, but not a lot of options if you want to get cash on the spot for something and not have to wait for it to sell,”

Hakkenberg goes on to add. “Plus, most people’s wardrobes are full of more mid-range gear rather than high-end things. There’s such a high turnover with the cycles of fashion now, and a lot of people want new clothes every season. But things that were from last season aren’t necessarily out of style yet; they’re not dated. So, we’re making everything more accessible.”


Kind Exchange



“We take a lot of fast fashion because a lot of it is still in great condition. What’s great is that, from the clothes we don’t buy, we offer to donate and recycle them to local charities so they don’t end up in landfills. I know people who will throw their clothes away in the garbage, which is insane.  Come down and sell your clothes to us instead!”

And, with nearly a dozen Kind Exchange locations in the greater Toronto area, recycling your clothing has never been easier. Now, when you’re getting dressed in the morning, passive aggressively mumbling about how you never have anything to wear and maybe if rent wasn’t a thing you could buy some new clothes, you can think of Kind Exchange. Really, it’s like unlimited access to the trendy big sister’s closet you never had.
Claudia McNeilly is Toronto Standard’s style writer. Follow her on Twitter.


Ethical Option for Some Seriously Awesome Clothes!

Thanks Kaila Wilfert for telling the readers of Long Distance Neighbors all about us!

Living Ethically by Being a Better Neighbour


The Kind Exchange
As Adrienne mentioned, I’ve been dealing with some house issues recently. With all this rain Toronto has gotten, it appears my roof is leaking into my bedroom. On top of that, my best friend has recently gotten engaged and wedding planning has begun! However with all the life chaos there is still something that I think everyone should be very aware of this summer (shopping season) in Toronto, and that is an ethical option for some seriously awesome clothes!
The Kind Exchange

Used clothing is a great way to reduce your ecological foot print and get some extra mileage out of clothing that would otherwise be thrown away. When clothing often comes with such a high human cost, it only makes sense to use it for as long as possible.
In Toronto the most known (and biggest) options for used clothing are Value Village, Salvation Army and Goodwill. All of these have great potential and with much time and commitment you will inevitably find something you may like, or even love.
The Kind Exchange takes a bit of that endless searching out of your fashion adventure because nearly everything in the store is high-end and relatively new. They currently have 9 locations in the city and give a portion of their proceeds to The Canadian Cancer Society and The Partners MS Centre at Bringham & Women’s Hospital.

Buy & SellThe brands available at The Kind Exchange are not just whatever was left in whomever’s back closet. Here you can find everything from Alexander McQueen to Versace and everything in between.

Along with buying up all these goodies, you can also sell some of your own stuff. After the long winter you can take a look in your closet and see what you can get rid of; bring your items down to the store and they will give you cash on the spot for anything they take a fancy to. Be sure that you are bringing in quality and gently used items, as non-brandname or damaged clothing will be much less appealing for sale.

Trade & DonateAlong with the normal options to buy and sell clothing, The Kind Exchange gives you the option to trade in your old clothes for new ones. By trading in older clothes you double the value of the cash you would have received instead!

Finally you can also just donate old clothing. As a gift in kind you will be making some extra space in that closet of yours, and also feel good knowing that part the sale of your clothing will be going to a good cause.
You can see all their locations HERE and also them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to get a heads up about what is in the stores, and also about great deals.


This used clothing store is taking over Toronto

Natalia Manzocco of blogTo‘s Fashion & Style page tells it like it is at Kind Exchange. We wholeheartedly agree!



This used clothing store is taking over Toronto

Posted by Natalia Manzocco / JUNE 8, 2014


kind exchange toronto

Here’s a riddle: What has opened 10 stores in Toronto within the last three years, has two locations within just a few blocks of each other on Queen St. West, and isn’t Starbucks?

It’s the Kind Exchange, a Toronto-grown chain of used clothing stores that’s rapidly taking root in neighbourhoods across the city. What began with a single store on Queen West has expanded from Roncesvalles to Yonge and Eglinton to the Beaches, with four new locations opening this spring alone. The next one – the chain’s 10th – will open its doors at 1185 Bloor St., near Dufferin, in two weeks.

For those who have never trawled through KX’s many, many racks: The chain is stocked entirely with used items chosen by the store’s staff from hauls brought in by customers. Items are generally priced to move. (If your items are chosen, you can opt for an on-the-spot cash payout – generally 20% of the selling price – or store credit, for 30%.) This differs from most consignment stores, which wait until your used items sell before giving you your share of the sale.

In terms of hunting intensity levels, it’s a far easier shopping experience than the thrift store, but requires considerably more digging than your artfully “curated” high-falutin’ new-and-vintage boutique. Some visits, you’ll go home empty-handed; other days, you’ll find your new favourite wardrobe item. Not everything will work for you, but all of the items the buyers select – which, though sometimes well-loved, are free of stains, rips and holes – are brought in with the knowledge someone, somewhere, will look absolutely smashing in it.

There’s also a charitable element to the store – a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Canadian Cancer Society. One of the store’s latest locations – Kind Exchange Cares, near Danforth and Woodbine – donates the profit from everything sold in the store.

kind exchange toronto

Founder Jeff Wexler, an Ontario native, spent over a decade working for U.S. consignment chainSecond Time Around (no relation to the store of the same name in Toronto). He struck out on his own in 2011, moving back to Toronto with his wife, Courtney, in tow, and set up shop at 611 Queen St. West. (He still lives above that first store.)

In the store’s early days, the buy-sell-trade business model was a tough sell. “You’re coming up with kind of a different retail concept,” Wexler said. “Like, ‘people have to bring their bags of clothes to you, and you’re going to go through them and then give me money for it?’

“That first year was really tough. Was really, really tough. But we really fought for it.”

The tide soon turned – thanks in large part, Wexler says, to the wonders of social media. The store poured time and resources into their online presence – after all, with new items flowing into the store every day, there’s no shortage of eye candy to Instagram. The chain’s staff remains engaged, styling mini-photo shoots and fielding questions about an item’s size, price and availability. (A common sight in the comments: “omg can you hold this for me????”)

kind exchange toronto

The store’s following (online and in real life) grew, and buyers – and sellers – began flocking in, with folks dragging their bags of closet castoffs to Queen West from all over town. Eventually, the lightbulb went off.

Now, Wexler says, “We are opening stores because our customers would tell us, ‘You gotta have a store on the Danforth. You gotta have a store on Bloor Street. You gotta come to the Annex. Oh, The Beaches — this is perfect for the Beaches.’ It’s the best way to grow.”

Most clothing boutiques, naturally, are content to let people come to them – their stock would be the same anywhere in town, and one location is often enough for a small business to manage. But if you’re cleaning out your closet, the convenience factor of having a consignment store just down the street where you can drop off your old threads is a powerful draw.

“Let’s not pretend Toronto is an easy city to drive around, OK? So if I have people coming from the Beaches down to Queen West to sell their clothing and be part of it, then I’m going to go to the Beaches.”

There’s another built-in bonus to rapid expansion that comes with the business model. “What it does allow me to do, is I can buy at my current stores for new stores,” Wexler says. “I might be able to buy 100 items at Bloor St. in the Annex for a new store in the Beaches. … They can sort of feed off each other, which is great.”

Kind Exchange Toronto

The Kind Exchange’s popularity isn’t the only indicator of Toronto’s current appetite for cheaper clothing (or, perhaps, a desire to spin closet items into cash during lean times in an already-expensive city). On the same stretch of Queen St. West as the original Kind Exchange, there’s Fashionably Yours,Consign Toronto, and the soon-to-open Garb – though the bulk of the city’s other consignment stores focus on name-brand and designer items (Common Sort is a notable exception to the rule).

“The high-end market is great – that’s its own world,” Wexler says. “I came from high-end designer consignment, and I think there’s a world for that, too, but I really want to be applicable to everybody.”

In the wake of its rapid expansion, the chain’s next moves include a revamped website that’ll include clearer directions to prospective sellers, so they know what each store is and isn’t accepting at the moment (thereby avoiding disappointment when you cart a bag of black pants to a store already brimming with extra pairs).

But even after all this growth, Wexler says, the company is far from done – in fact, he’s still looking for location suggestions. “Where would you want to have a Kind Exchange — from Vancouver to PEI?

“Send us an email. Tweet at us. Come say hi.”

Store photos by Erin Jones. Outfit photos via The Kind Exchange on Instagram.


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