When I was a kid, there was a certain toy store that I adored. In fact, I felt downright giddy each time we visited. It was a wonderland, filled to the brim with every toy imaginable… every nook and cranny occupied by the most unique, covetable items. In short, it was a child’s paradise.
Like that childhood toy store, this month’s featured boutique – The 100-Mile Child in Toronto, Ontario – would make any child (or parent, for that matter) giddy! From the beautiful handmade fabric puppets that greet you at the door, to the seemingly endless array of fun children’s costumes, beautiful clothing, accessories and toys, this shop has something for every age and taste. What’s amazing is that, as the store’s name suggests, most of their products come from within a 100-mile radius of Toronto – no small feat in the era of overseas mass production. Since late 2010, this store has been “the” go-to sustainable toy and gift store for local residents – and a sought-out destination for visitors.
Owners Katie MacDonald and Ian Rodhouse have stocked the store with a veritable diamond mine of Toronto-area finds: adorable Cate + Levi puppets, wall art and onesies; Tiny Modernist dresses (a personal favourite of mine); Snug As A Bug children’s aprons and Fancy Pants Kids costumes, to name a few. While the 100-mile philosophy is a guiding principle for their store and they strive to provide their customers with a wide range of products that are locally manufactured, there are some products from further afield that they love for their ethical or environmental considerations. Some examples include handcrafted wooden Sleepy Hollow Puzzles, and a beautiful line of soft toys made from sustainable bamboo and stuffed with Canadian sheep wool, both from Quebec. They also carry hand-manufactured foreign language wooden blocks from Michigan-based Uncle Goose, available in Hebrew, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish and many more – a rare product indeed! There’s a great selection of items for young children, but older kids definitely aren’t left out! Items like Arterro Eco Art Kits, Foxy Originals Jewelry and non-toxic Piggy Paint nail polish are sure to be a hit with tweens and teens.
The 100-Mile Child stocks many distinctive products that their customers come back for time and again. They are proud to carry Thorpe Toys – a line of wooden toys made in Waterloo, Ontario that is only available in a few select locations. Another product that sets them apart is also one of their most eye-catching ones – a beautiful bird mobile made in Pickering, Ontario. The birds are handcrafted and each finished product is unique. Many people pick them out as gifts for newborns, but there are also a number of discerning customers who use them as pieces of art to decorate their homes.
A few people have described the 100-Mile Child as their own One of a Kind Show, which is a testament to the unique range of products they carry. Everything they sell in their store (and on their website) has been carefully selected for environmental, social, ethical or educational value. Their philosophy of carrying products that have a minimal impact on the environment has caught the attention of the Evergreen Brickworks (self-described as “a community environmental centre that inspires and equips visitors to live, work and play more sustainably”) and, for a little over a year, The 100-Mile Child has partnered with them to provide products for their Garden Market. As the movement to buy locally continues to gain momentum, it becomes even clearer that we don’t need to sacrifice beauty or functionality to purchase sustainably made, eco-friendly products for our kids – and The 100-Mile Child is living proof of that!
If ever there was a reason to shop guilt-free, this is it! While the store is definitely something to behold (beware: you may inflict some damage to your bank account!), don’t fret if you’re not in the area. The 100-Mile Child offers a large selection of their in-store offerings online and they’re available by email or phone if you have any questions.