Retro Shopping: Leslieville Flea says think local, ethical and crafted with care this holiday season

Think local, ethical and crafted with care when holiday shopping this season, say Chris Roberts and Bridgid Elmy of the Leslieville Flea. Shown are works by local artist Hilary Johnson.


Gift giving can be stressful. Trying to find new ideas year after year for those special people in your life Or trying to find a special something for someone new in your life.

No matter who you are buying for a thoughtful gift would be one that is original, crafted with care, good for the planet and sourced locally.

There may always be a need to get things from big box stores or online. But maybe this year give some thought to trying to get your gifts from someplace more meaningful.

Shop locally. Supporting those neighbourhood shops means your money goes to the hard-working people who own them and the money stays in your community.

Shop ethically. Think about where the item is coming from. How it’s made. What it’s made from. Take this extra step to try to do good for our planet and people on it.

Find something truly original. The recipient of your gift will love it even more if it’s something that is handcrafted and unique. There are so many talented artists and artisans who create amazing pieces that will be well received.

Here’s a few ideas along these lines for the various people on your list :

1. Moms or mom-like women in your life. A cashmere blanket sourced ethically and made with fair trade practices. Skin care that is handcrafted in small batches. Candles that are handmade from natural ingredients and smell divine. A handcrafted piece of pottery or art.

2. Dad or that other special man in your life. Men can be hard to buy for. But if you know what they are interested in it makes it easier. Some vintage vinyl for their collection. A special bottle of scotch or bourbon paired with some cool vintage tumblers. A handcrafted leather wallet keychain or billfold. Beard oil or skin care products that are made with ingredients that smell great and aren’t full of chemicals.

3. Kids or kids at heart. A handcrafted toy or stuffed animal. Some cool threads made ethically from natural fibres and not produced in a sweatshop. Some great books they will read again and again.

4. Hostess gifts. The holiday season is so busy. Why not thank your hostess for including you and treat them to something like a pound of ethically sourced coffee? Handmade chocolates. Wine presented in a reusable tote bag. Meals in a jar (soups or cookies that come ready to make ) are such a great idea and give your hostess/host a super easy and nutritious meal they can whip up easily. Gift cards to a local deli or cheese shop so they can enjoy some great products over the holidays. Soaps or candles they can use right away or save for themselves. All of these are sustainable or usable and practical and will be truly appreciated.

5. For the person who has everything already – give the gift of giving. Look into charities – do your research to find ones that give the most percentage to the charity and are more grass roots so your dollars do the most work. Some of my faves are 7 Days in May ( for Pancreas Cancer), Majengo Childrens Home (we visited this wonderful place last year and I can tell you the funds are well spent), World Vision – this one has many options like buying a goat or chicken that will feed a village for years to come. We have done this in lieu of teachers gifts (I know from many teachers they really don’t need another small gift) and they were really well received. Local charities like Community Centre 55 and Red Door Shelter are also amazing and give back within our own community. These gifts are perfect for those who have so much and don’t need more material things. They are meaningful and will spread the gift of love and giving throughout the year.

Wrapping paper and ribbon are not recyclable so as a bonus this year, try wrapping up gifts you are giving in reusable packaging instead of filling up the garbage with non recyclable gift wrap.

Some creative and simple ideas: A fabric bag that is reusable for shopping. A holiday or pretty cotton tea towel wrapped around a gift. Use raffia or jute string instead of ribbon. Shop for wooden crates or metal boxes (vintage ones are amazing) and make the packaging also a gift!

Also, a reminder that the seventh annual Leslieville Flea Holiday Market is Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8 at the Jimmie Simpson Community Centre, 870 Queen St. E. Market hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

Chris Roberts and Bridgid Elmy are huge fans of all things vintage and work to promote sustainable and conscious design. They co-founded the Leslieville Flea – a curated flea market that showcases local, vintage and handcrafted style. For upcoming dates, visit

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