The chip flavours at Old's Cool General Store range from Srirachup (Neal Brothers) to coconut (Hippie Snacks). There are Mr. Noodles and KD alongside Annie’s organic Mac. Don’t worry — this isn’t hipster curation gone mad. So, then, why sell kamut flower and Wonder bread in the same corner store?
For answers to the curiosities of this new-but-old Danforth East shop, we need to back up a few months.
“It was Feb. 28 — the coldest day in Toronto — and I came to look at this property,” Old’s Cool co-owner Zahra said at the shop’s grand opening. “An 80-year-old woman was coming in to buy her daily needs. That’s when it hit me, this place is a bit of an institution. Elders in the neighbourhood have been coming here for 30 years to buy their milk and bread and frozen dinners.”
And then there are the new kids on the block: young families who eat organic when they can. You know the type. Old’s Cool caters to both crowds and nobody is taking themselves too seriously. This place is all about being inclusive, and the community seems to be responding to that.
The shop was packed on Saturday for the grand opening. There were Sigg water bottles on special, bubbly for all, a ribbon cutting and even a guy playing his trumpet. It’s not often us Torontonians get to see innovative businesses opening in backstreet residential neighbourhoods, especially on the east side. (Old's Cool even sells silky pillowcases with Mounties on them.) Thankfully, locals have realized they're rather lucky.
“As she’s been ripping down drywall,” Zahra says, referring to her partner Mariko, “and building cabinets, literally, people have come and brought us food. Every day people are like, how can we help you?"
Mariko and Zahra want to give back. They have been doing a phased renovation of the shop and in time plan to open the back for community events from art happenings to debate and more.
Here’s to kicking it Old’s Cool.
Old's Cool General Store is located at 250 Westlake Ave at the corner of Lumsden and Westlake. The store is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. Visit the Old's Cool Facebook page for more details.