There are no cigarettes or newspapers at this general store - just Popeye candy cigarettes and sexy colouring books. And to ca tch the club-goers, it's open until 11 p.m. on weekends.
Typically, a general, or convenience, store's stock varies depending on what its locals need. So here at the airy Drake Hotel Genera l Store, which opened its doors last Saturday on November 22 at 1144 Queen St. W. one storefront east of the mothership - it's all about the want. To Carlo Colacci, one of the two "curators" at the Drake Hotel General Store, which opened at 1144 Queen St. W. last Saturday, keeping it fun is says they stock the counters to match the neighbourhood flair.
"It's not a bookstore, it's not a toy store, it's not a pharmacy. It's combining everything, and the closest thing to that is a general store," said Mr. Colacci, 29.
"We basically want to carry things you can't find easily."
For months, he and his business partner, Joyce Lo, have scoured antique shops and markets in Guelph, Waterloo and New York for nosta lgic knickknacks and oddities. That's not to mention the stuff from Craigslist or their friends' basements.
"I was like, Do you need that?'" said Ms. Lo, 31, pointing to a pair of wooden skis leaning on the back wall.
Sure, there are touristic clichés such as maps and postcards. But poke around this cabinet of eccentric curiosities to find t he vintage gems, such as the crankshaft music boxes for $11 (that play Stairway to Heaven), Sunshine Girl playing cards for $ 5 and porcelain gnomes for $50 that line the rustic wooden shelves.
At times, it could be mistaken for a gag shop. "There's a sense of humour that runs through the store," Ms. Lo said.
Indeed, it's hard not to miss the Marie Antoinette action figures for $15 and paparazzi play sets for $26 - never mind the $60 Pee-wee Herman doll dangling from the top shelf.
But they do stock the practical stuff. Like the old-fashioned Botot toothpaste brand alongside tins of Bag Balm, an ointment for cha pped skin. "I like the tradition," Ms. Lo said.
The idea for General Store surfaced this summer when she and Mr. Colacci, both fashion designers, rented out a neighbouring storefro nt (1142 Queen St. W.) as a pop-up shop for their T-shirt line, Shared. That was enough to catch Jeff Stober's eye.
"They really get the street," said Mr. Stober, the owner of the Drake Hotel.
Mr. Stober, who has bought several storefronts along the bustling party strip since opening the Drake in 2004, invited the quirky du o to collaborate for General Store, which occupies the space formerly inhabited by the Chinese restaurant Queen Star. It moved up th e street after its lease expired in January. (Saigon Flower at 1138 Queen St. W., owned by Rose Vuong, has yet to budge.)
Ms. Lo hopes one thing stays put. Up by the front door is a tattered illustration of Queen Elizabeth II. "We're bringing the Q ueen back to Queen Street," Ms. Lo said. "That's where she belongs."