It is best to visit the Blue Banana Market, located at 250 Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market, without a specific shopping goal.
The store is billed as a place to find original gifts, and there are plenty of options to choose from when looking for the friend who has everything. But the true draw of the Blue Banana Market is the experience. A store that carries retro-inspired fascinators, multicoloured candy and leopard-print tights promises a fun way to pass an afternoon as well as a feast for the senses.
Approaching the Blue Banana Market, the bright, cheery sign contrasts sharply with the staid and perfunctory warehouse-brick exterior. The brick suggests an indoor loft, and the lone massive staircase is lined with home décor art like varicoloured pictures of Andy Warhol with inscriptions of some of his more memorable quotes. Upstairs is mainly art, jewelry, and clothing — not as eclectic a collection as downstairs, but still worth the trip to check out Canadian designer collections, many of which feature eco-friendly fabrics such as hemp.
The selection is extraordinary — you can find everything from bath products to musical instruments. Once you tire of ogling sauces of myriad flavours, sock monkeys, and gag gifts, you can easily stop by the café and bakery that spill out onto the patio once warm weather hits. You can sit on silver chairs or on high bar stools as you sample the exotic loose-leaf tea collection or Balzac coffees, and munch on one of the delectable local vegan cupcakes or brownies.
The Blue Banana Market is found at 250 Augusta Street in Kensington Market. 416-594-6600. bluebananamarket.com.