Courage My Love – Attracting tourists and Torontonians for decades

The bright, sky blue exterior, flanked by naked mannequins is one of the busiest vintage shops in the heart of Kensington market. Courage my love has been open since 1975, relocating from Cecil Street to Kensington. Owner, Stewart Scriver attributes the success of the store to the location saying that people love shopping in Kensington because it’s comfortable.

For Stewart and co., his daughter, Felice and wife, Patricia it was never about the money, “I had done my civic duty as a teacher, so I wanted to do something else. I love shopping, I like people and I like traveling. It just works.”

Courage My Love sees customers from all over the world walk through the doors; Stewart says they have tourists from Iceland, Ireland and Tunisia, “places where you wouldn’t imagine tourists coming from,” he says.

Not only do they get tourists from all over the world but Stewart and his family also travel just about everywhere to buy stock for the shop. Every item in Courage speaks to a different culture, whether it’s something from Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, Guatemala or Turkey.

The shop has never taken the advertising revenue to promote their goods. Stewart has relied on word of mouth and thinks that most businesses have got it wrong, “most stores are trying to run a business by offering low quality, high-pressure sales and uninteresting stuff, this uniform stuff, stores that advertise that they are different, mostly aren’t.” The family is so unfamiliar with advertising that Felice jokes that she wouldn’t know what or how to advertise.

The shop is described as a gem, filled with heaps of unique jewelry, buttons, scarfs and belts. Not to mention cashmere sweaters for affordable prices (I didn’t see anything that was above $50). Courage has something for the gentlemen too, suits, dress shirts and top hats. Felice says that the affordable prices is something their customers can trust they will stick to, “Its nice to have stuff no one else has and at a good price. Anything you see in our store, we probably sell for $40 cheaper then any other thrift shop.” Felice has always trusted her instincts when it comes to spotting trends, “it’s the one thing I’m good at. If I feel like I want to wear it to the point where I get really excited about it, then I know its going to work.”

One thing that is quite evident when you speak to the Scriver family is that, they love what they are doing and promise that when you walk into the store, you’ll see something you have never seen before and will love it too.

This piece was for Ef Magazine, story and rest of the photos here.

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