Scoping out the east side for nascent hot spots the other day, I notice a banner hanging across the front window of Fabric Hound (1028 Queen E, at Boston, 416-465-0064) announcing that owner Skeeter Jones is moving to Winnipeg.
"I fell in love," she laughs, flashing a diamond ring. She met a guy from the 'Peg and she's getting married. Sadly, Jones closes up shop April 20th. A sign on the door says it all: The owner of this establishment has been packing and lifting for one month. Please treat her and her surroundings with respect. No foolish questions or remarks. You have been warned!
"These things are already four or five generations old," she explains, packing up the antique quilts and art deco textiles she isn't selling off at 50% off or less. "Somebody has to save them. It's almost too late."
Jones and I first crossed paths in the late 90s when she operated an early-days Leslieville store specializing in culinary ephemera she jokingly dubbed Kitchen Witch. Alongside antique cookbooks and vintage oven mitts, she also sold astoundingly delicious 50s-style sweet 'n' savoury pies worthy of June Cleaver.
NOW raved and Hogtown's hoi polloi descended. Almost immediately, her obscure boutique in a decidedly dodgy part of town had weekend line-ups forming before she'd even opened to grab one of her prized pies.
"NOW Magazine ruined my life!" Jones laughs. "That review was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I hadn't planned any of this and all I did for the next two years was bake those damned pies. So, I pulled the plug and opened the Hound."
And now, she's heading west.
"I can have a better life in Winnipeg. I can own a house, afford to go to the theatre as well as travel to Europe once a year. Here, I'm treading water."
But, Winnipeg? I've heard it's cold.
"Who cares when your mortgage is 400 bucks a month," deadpans Jones. "I'll just put another log on the fire, open a bottle of Scotch and put my feet up!"