C/O Christine de Takacsy

The STORE on James specializes in handmade pieces by artists and makers in Ontario. 

Amid the current supply chain shortages, many are opting to shop local for this holiday season. For shoppers who aren’t sure where to go or what to buy at local vendors and platforms such as Blkownedhamont, Wiiji’iwe Collective and On James North are great places to start. Through these platforms, buyers can find gift guides, discover Indigenous makers and handmade artisan shops like the STORE on James.

The STORE offers a wide selection of handmade items by over 25 artists and makers in Ontario, including ceramic houseware, glasswork, jewelry, fibre art, woodwork, cards, prints and posters. The books sold in the STORE are the only products that are not handmade.  

“We really try to be almost like a mini market fair or one-of-a-kind establishment. Everything is done by local artists and we always have new things coming in. But we have a pretty steady roster of artists who have been here for many years,” said Christine de Takacsy, owner of the STORE.

The shop opened in 2014 on 129 James Street North and is operated by de Takacsy and her husband Bill Swallow who handles the section of used books. 

Working in the art scene and being an artist herself is how de Takacsy found other creatives and makers to join her list of artists. Many of the artists on the list are people she met within the community at different shows and opening galas. There are also artists she has reached out to after seeing their work at various shows and artists who have contacted her first. 

In general, she prioritizes full-time professional artists and curates a wide selection of different styles of works.

“There are so many good artists around, you could have way more artists than you have space, but I tried to have a good selection of different styles so when customers come in, they really have a nice variety,”

Christine de Takacsy

Although the COVID-19 pandemic brought on many challenges for small businesses, de Takacsy was floored by the support from the community. The continuous love from locals, combined with her enthusiasm for promoting fellow artists, sharing her own creations and seeing first-hand the reactions of customers to her artwork, has been her favourite aspects of running the business.

“Artists don’t always get to see how people are reacting to their work if they aren’t actually in the retail side of it. So that [part of running the STORE] really is good,” said de Takacsy.

During the holiday season, the STORE is offering special accessories such as glass, felted and ceramic ornaments, tea cozies, scarves and holiday themed tea towels as well as unique giftable goods. There are also handmade and locally designed holiday cards. 

“We are excited for the holiday season. There are lots of little gifts and decorated things and James Street North is trying to open later than we normally are…We are really trying to get into the Christmas spirit to encourage people to come and help support locals,”

Christine de Takacsy

From Nov. 12 to Dec. 17, all stores on James Street North will operate on extended holiday night hours on Thursdays and Fridays. The STORE will now be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays. 

For shoppers who can’t visit the store in person, the STORE has almost all their products available through their website as well. 

The online shop opened in June of 2020. It was de Takacsy’s first time running an e-shop and although it has been challenging, she is committed to delivering a shopping experience similar to what customers would experience visiting in-person.

“[Opening the online store] was definitely forced by COVID. It made me get it up, do it and get it done. There are still learning burps and it is hard because they are all one-of-a-kind pieces and very time consuming [to create the online listings] but it’s definitely worth it,” said de Takacsy.

De Takacsy is looking forward to the festive months and giveaways the businesses on James North are organizing to share the love of gift giving. 

With so many local businesses accessible both online and in-person this holiday season, instead of rushing to Amazon or other corporate businesses, shop local. There are many hidden talents and artists at vendors like the STORE and other shops in the community shoppers may be surprised to find. These one-of-a-kind items will surely capture and mark a memorable, one-of-a-kind holiday. 

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