Canada’s largest artisan market, the One of a Kind Winter Show 2021, is back at the Enercare Centre! Torontonicity was invited to OOAK’s Holiday Show media preview, and given an early access glimpse into what attendees can expect from this year’s event. If you’ve attended in the past, you’ll find some important changes to this year’s show. Read on to find out what’s new, and how the OOAK organizers are keeping you safe while you shop small, local and support Canadian artists and makers.
As someone who’s been attending the One of a Kind spring and winter shows since they were in a stroller, the return after more than 700 days off is a big deal. I love the opportunity to speak directly with the people who conceptualize and create beautifully handmade items, and have dedicated their lives to their craft. Health and safety measures at this year’s event haven’t negatively impacted that important component, but do require some advanced planning for OOAK regulars.
Before arriving at the Enercare Centre, we made sure to review the OOAK website. Key changes to this year’s show include: no in-and-out privileges, no coat check, and no free return pass. We made sure to arrive bright and early, wear light-weight coats to stuff into our bags, and wear comfortable walking shoes. We did a rapid review of aisles A through N (far fewer than years past), made note of favourite vendors and booths, and then made our way to the Cricut demo area!
Located in the centre of Hall A, the Let’s Make Lounge allows visitors to create personalized canvas totes, ornaments or holiday cards all using the Cricut line of do-it-yourself products. We tried out the EasyPress station, and in 30-seconds made absolutely adorable canvas totes with our initials in gold! There may be a lineup at the lounge, so arrive early and grab your free personalized items while supplies last.
With our new canvas totes in hand, we went back around to peruse all the handmade goods of the more than 300 vendors at this year’s show. One new vendor that caught our eye is Pressies, by two Nail Artists friends who have created sets of gorgeously decorated press-on nails. We spent way too long here deciding between all their styles, but eventually went with a set of long almond-shaped nails as a gift for a loved one.
While in the visual arts aisles, we stopped to enjoy some live painting by Gordon Harrison. His abstract paintings include gorgeously vibrant colours!
Local Toronto clothing designer, and minimalist aesthetic darling, Hoi Bo is an OOAK staple. Her booth is always buzzing with activity, as visitors “ooh” and “awe” at the fantastic high-quality handmade clothing made for ease and comfort.
An area that I always try and spend more time in is the Rising Stars or New Vendors section in the middle of the exhibition hall. This area features emerging artisans, and is a great way to support creators just starting on their path or looking to gain momentum in their career. Leaf & Root Co.’s eye-catching booth was created by her and her husband, and a great way to highlight her products!
Aside from home décor, clothing and great holiday ornament options, OOAK is the place to do purchasing for truly one of a kind gifts. Botanical Art creates framed pieces featuring fruits, vegetables and other flora she grows in her own garden. We loved the rich reds of these peppers! This would be a great gift for the home chef in our lives.
Looking for an educational children’s gift? Stop by the Character Power’s booth to check out their self-directed reading, writing and art activities focused on inspirational public figures.
Another noticeable difference to this year’s show is the no sampling of any food products. We encourage you to take your time speaking with the vendors in this section on their products, as they no longer have the option of allowing visitors to directly try their delicious jams, sauces or spices before purchasing. Believe us when we say that there are so many great kitchen staples available at OOAK, so take the extra couple minutes to let the vendors know what you like or what flavour profile you prefer. It will be worth it!
Artisan markets are more than a local way to shop: they’re a conduit to building connections with creatives. You have an opportunity to engage in dialogue with clothing designers, jewellery makers, stained glass and other medium artists. Torontonicity has missed the One of a Kind Show since their winter 2019 show, so please let us know the names of your favourite vendors by commenting below!
The One of a Kind Winter Show is at the Enercare Centre in Toronto from Thursday, November 25, 2021 to Sunday, December 5, 2021.
You might be interested in reading, “Holiday Markets in Toronto 2021“.