Prior to the art crawl on James Street North last month, I decided to take a stroll down the street during the afternoon before it got busy. I'm always curious to see what new shops have opened up. As you know, peeking in papered up windows is a pastime of ours. Our friend Aaron, who owns Studio Gagnon had instagramed a photo of James North General Store & Co. and I was sold on the beautiful branding alone. When I stepped inside, I met the incredibly sweet co-owners Setenio Borges and Mathieu Brazeau. I felt drawn to their enthusiasm over the wonderful things happening on the street and their part in it. A fusion of general store, cafe, gallery and boutique, it's definitely the kind of place you can get lost in for a while while browsing the art and goods. From Love Nail Art tees and handcrafted soaps by Soap Utopia to accessories from the Overman Jewellery & Art collection there are unique finds for everyone. And the price points are so reasonable you won't be afraid to turn over a price tag like you are in some shops. I picked up two pillow cases that look perfect on my mid-century style sofas. Be sure to stop in and see what's new in store while you are out art crawling tonight. They are featuring the photography of Linda Schettle on the gallery side!
Tell us more about your shop, James North General Store & Co., and what inspired you guys to open it.
Both myself and my partner Mathieu always wanted to open a place where anyone can come and enjoy a browse around our unique finds and have a latte all in one place. We come from a background of design and all things creative, so we want to inspire and showcase designers from all over the world, especially those who are local.
What do you love about James Street North neighborhood?
This has been my neighbourhood since I can remember coming from the Azores when I was just over a year old. We first lived near the industrial area off of Niagara Street, and later the north end of Macauley Street in the Beasley Area when I was a teenager. I moved to Toronto in my 20s for work and then Vancouver for a couple years and something kept bringing me back home. We've been back now for over a year now and live in the Beasley Area with our two pugs. We love the vibe and diversity our neighbourhood has. From the traditional Portuguese and Italian culture that still exists to the rawness of some streets, to the ever-changing James North.
How would you describe the aesthetic of your shop?
We had this rawness in our minds, something that we had not seen in Hamilton. We combined a bit of old world charm with a modern touch. Every part of the storefront was updated right down to the pine baseboards. From the elaborate tin ceiling to the oversized lightbulb fixtures to the country crates from the 1920s, we wanted people to feel like they are coming into a cozy safe environment, something that we had always been in and wanted to share.
How do you decide if you want to include something in your store? What do you look for in your wares?
I come from a fashion background so aesthetic and design are very important. I want to bring in things that no one has seen -- from contemporary and eclectic clothing, to cute handmade necklaces, totes and wares. We try to keep our prices affordable and competitive. I love to carry local designs as well as those sourced from abroad. Mixing it up allows us to offer something different all the time. We carry no more than 10 of each item so that customers have a one-of-a-kind piece they wont find anywhere else.
Describe your favorite piece in the store right now.
My favourite piece in our store would have to be the cute vegan leather card wallets in a 1960s design. They come in watermelon and bubble gum pink.
When you’re not manning the fort at the General Store — where can we find you?
You can find us landscaping or outside in the yard with the dogs, hanging out at Mulberry Coffee Shop, or as we call it the local "Cheers" stowaway, having a drink. We are urban guys exploring the world around us all the time.