I’m often asked why I choose the Distillery District as the location for Gentil Uomo. When I knew I wanted to open a boutique that specializes in men’s shirts and accessories made in Italy, I knew I had to find the perfect location to really bring to life the atmosphere of an Italian specialty shop.
When I first visited the Distillery District in 2007, I knew I had found my location. I was instantly transported back to a piazza in Italy. If you’ve never visited the Distillery District, it is a pedestrian-only village filled with unique shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries http://www.thedistillerydistrict.com all housed in the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian industrial architecture in North America.
To give you a brief history of the Distillery District, from 1837 to 1990 the site was once The Gooderham and Worts Distillery. In the 90s the site was used as a popular film location and over the years 1,700 films used the site including blockbusters such as Chicago, Cinderella Man and X-Men. In December 2001, Cityscape Holdings Inc. purchased the Distillery, later partnering with Dundee Realty Corporation. They undertook an ambitious project – to restore the Distillery and its more than 40 buildings and transform it into a pedestrians-only village. In May 2003, the Distillery District opened and today it continues to flourish.
I wouldn’t have picked any other location in the city to open Gentil Uomo. The building that houses our boutique was built in 1873 and all the furniture in our shop was custom-made from original wood beams that were used in the rack-houses in the Distillery in the mid-1800s to store the barrels. To understand more about my passion for Made in Italy and how we transformed our shop read my blog http://gentiluomo.ca/made-italy.
Throughout the year there are many unique events and activities held at the Distillery District but the major event of the year is the Toronto Christmas Market http://www.torontochristmasmarket.com. This year the market runs from November 20th to December 20th, and if you’ve never been, do yourself a favour and add it to your to do list. You won’t be disappointed! The Distillery District is magically transformed into a European-style street festival with a host of vendors, entertainment, lights, a 45 foot Christmas tree, Santa Claus and so much more. I hope to see you! Alla prossima – until next time. Arrivederci.