Whether you're frugal or flush, we've searched the city for its sweetest deals, delivering great value and quality
Sweet vintage clothing deal
Stella Luna (1627 Queen West, 416-536-7300), the west end's original "it" vintage shop, is still stocked with every retro era of clothing and accessories. Its summer-long sidewalk sale's $5 and $10 rack continues through September, but there are always more budget-friendly 50s frocks or a price-slashed pair of peep-toe pumps up for grabs inside.
Sweet eco deal
The growing crop of green shoppers know the smartest way to be economically eco is to sign up for the Grassroots Action newsletter at grassrootsstore.com. Seasonal sale items (recycled paper notebooks for back to school or enviro-wash to catch the spring cleaning bug) and event listings for the store's Danforth and Annex outlets guarantee you won't miss a single earthy consumer moment. 372 Danforth, 416-466-2841; 408 Bloor West, 416-944-1993.
Sweet furniture deal
It's hard to compete with a 99-cent pasta special, but Ikea's Wacky Wednesdays come close. Every hump day, individual stores pick one item to discount and spotlights it on each location's Web page at ikea.ca. (Recent budget buys included everything from rugs to place mats to sets of juice glasses.) Surf by weekly for upcoming September specials at the North York (15 Provost, 416-922-4532) and Etobicoke (1475 Queensway, 416-646-4532) stores.
Sweet bag deal
Discounts at M0851 (23 St. Thomas, 416-920-4001, m0851.com) are mostly reserved for good-customer appreciation, but anyone can dig through the store's door-side sale bins. Giant wicker baskets are layered with last season's totes, messengers and duffels. Luckily, the Montreal-based leather brand's style is consistent and classic, so there's no risk of looking so last season.
Sweet suit deal
Other suit spots promise you a cheaper sports coat, but at Kensington Market menswear standby Tom's Place (190 Baldwin, 416-596-0297) you still get great quality at cut-rate prices. Many-for-one suit promos are excellent for the newbie exec needing an instant office wardrobe. Practise your bargaining skills talking down Tom at the register.
Sweet jewellery deal
Made You Look's pair of across-the-street jewellery boutiques cater to different bauble tastes. The south-side store's (1273 Queen West, 416-516-9595, madeyoulook.ca) deals are clear; crafty and creative makers combine everyday materials into colourful and playful pieces. All is not bank-breaking on the north side (1338 Queen West, 416-463-2136), though. The original shop now exclusively carries fine and custom buys that can be 'smithed to fit small-to-bling budgets.
Sweet shoe deal
Heel Boy (682 Queen West, 416-362-4335, heelboy.com) understands serious shoe shoppers. Its biannual two-for-one sale recognizes that while we'd get a better bargain by purchasing a single pair of long-lusted-after footwear at half price, we'll jump at any opportunity to pick up two. We'll have to wait until February for the next promo, but after spotting fall's new boots and pumps, it will be worth the wait.
Sweet designer deal
H&M's big ticket this fall is guaranteed to be its closely guarded collaboration with Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo arriving in early November. Sneaking into the Eaton Centre store (1 Dundas West, 416-593-0064, hm.com) under the radar this week, though, is the launch of a New Concept mini-shop stocked with more forward fast fashion. Jumpsuits, oversized moth-eaten knits and techno suiting are geared toward fearless fashion boys but are an equally good fit for ladies, too.
Sweet custom shirt deal
Discerning custom shirt shoppers won't shudder at the $761 price tag of Green Shag's (670 Queen West, 416-360-7424, greenshag.ca) threesome offer. That price gets you a classic oxford in white or blue, a dressed-down style for casual Fridays and a dressy option for formal occasions. The combo saves you $191 compared to individually ordered shirts, just enough to finish off each look with its own set of handsome enamel cufflinks.
Sweet sneaker deal
Serious sneaker heads would scoff at waiting any length of time to pick out a new pair of runners, but those of us who don't need our Converse, Vans, Nike and New Balance shoes hot off the press save at Si Vous Play Sports (6931 Steeles West, 416-675-9235, and others, svpsports.ca). Four Toronto-area warehouse outlets sell both functional athletic styles and the tricked-out premium options kids are wearing these days.
Sweet deal strip
While I personally think the number-one reason to visit Orfus Road is Grande Cheese (22 Orfus, 416-787-7670), where there's a line of mamas, nonnas and zias waiting for batches of steaming-hot fresh ricotta on Saturday mornings, I can accept that other shoppers have different priorities. Like pillaging the strip of Roots (120 Orfus, 416-781-8729, roots.ca), Nine West (53 Orfus, 416-256-3988) and Kitchen Stuff Plus (76 Orfus, 416-907-5195) outlets.
Sweet used furniture deal
Picking between Kensington Market's Bungalow (273 Augusta, 416-598-0203, bungalow.to) and Leslieville's All Most Antiques (1114 Queen East, 416-466-9724) is a sweet-deal dilemma. In other words, impossible. If you're up for an early Saturday morning of garage-sale surfing, you'll probably score a lower price, but these two stores offer polished-up mid-century furniture and housewares with a minimal finders' fee markup.
Sweet record deal
Music shoppers have many reasons besides pricing for picking stores like Soundscapes or Rotate This as their favourite vinyl shop, but if it comes down to cost, Criminal Records (493 Queen West, 416-364-5380, crimedoesntpay.ca) usually comes out on top. While a couple of bucks might not add up to enough savings to switch your sound-emporium loyalty, a 2,000-plus selection of titles should at least earn this shop a spot on your weekend record store tour.
Sweet book deal
BMV (471 Bloor West, 416-967-5757) is certainly not the prettiest place to shop for books, even compared to some of its remainder- and used-read-selling competitors, but its bare-bones warehouse set-up maximizes selection. You'll wade through a thousand books you don't want before you find the one you do, but the search will be worth it when you settle up at the register.
Sweet sex deal
Okay, we'll deliver an exclusively sexy find, too. In an effort to make sure students start off the school year safe-sex-smart, Come as You Are (701 Queen West, 416-504-7934, comeasyouare.com) is offering anyone with a valid student card 20 per cent off condoms and lube for the month of September. Long past graduation? A bottle of Good Clean Love all-natural and vegan lubricant comes free with every purchase of curiously carnal sex aide the Cone.
Sweet art deal
It's impossible to pick a single favourite art multiples spot. We love Magic Pony (694 Queen West, 416-861-1684, magic-pony.com), C1 Art Space (44 Ossington, 416-538-7999, c1artspace.com), Distill (55 Mill, building #47, 416-304-0033, distillgallery.com) and the Souvenir Shop (thesouvenirshop.ca). If we must choose, we'll go with Art Metropole (788 King West, 416-703-4400, artmetropole.com), only because the Joan Bankemper ceramic banana they sell is intended for both visual and physical pleasure, which means we've covered off our Sweet sex deal, too. It's price? $69 of course.
Sweet online deal
When you're not scouting sweet deals in NOW's pages, we suggest you surf over to Toronto blogger Anita Clarke's IwantIgot.geekigirl.com page. Clarke is plugged in to the city's sample sale scene and happy to share the discount love with her readers.
Sweet beauty deal
Cake Beauty always has Sweet Specials up for grabs on its online shopping site (cakebeauty.com), but the Canadian bath and body company is upping its offer of savings for NOW readers. Until September 17, enter the promo code SWEET when you check out new products like Citrus Squeeze-scented Buttery Body Bubbles and an additional 20 per cent will come off your e-bill.
Sweet haircut deal
That instantly recognizable Vidal Sassoon do looks sleek, chic and expensive, but if you're comfortable putting your hair in the hands of a stylist-in-training, you can score the city's sweetest salon deal. The Sassoon school (37 Avenue Road, 416-920-1333, sassoon.com) opens for consultations every Wednesday at 6 pm, when an instructor will give your head a once-over and book you a free student cut at either 9:30 am or 1:30 pm Monday through Friday. If you're happy with your novice snip, successive cuts will set you back $24.
All photos by Davd Hawe