The pedestrian-friendly downtown core is also blissfully low on cookie-cutter chain stores. Instead, the focus is on unique and individual offerings. Local shopkeepers like to set up in stately structures with high ceilings, stone walls and wide plank floors that are often as stylish as the items they sell.
Creating a personalized product is second nature for Guelph merchants. Even National Historic Site McCrae House has it’s own special cuppa – Ceylon long leaf black tea blended with calendula petals and organic orange peels.
Best Shopping in Guelph
Most of the best shopping, eating and entertainment happens in a pocket bounded in the north by Suffolk St., south by Carden St., east by Woolwich St. and west by Norfolk St. Macdonell Street is known as Consignment Row and the Old Quebec Street shops are located in a quaint covered market.
Guelph Farmers’ Market
Early birds catch the best produce at this bustling downtown market, which has been in operation for over 180 years. Fresh seasonal and organic fruits, vegetables and baked goods mingle with naturally raised meats, dairy and artesan cheese as well as original arts and crafts. In summer, vendor numbers swell from 60 to 120 and spill outdoors.
The Guelph Farmers’ Market is on the corner of Gordon St. and Waterloo Ave.; open year round Saturday only 7 a.m. to noon.
Women’s Clothing and Consignment Shops in Guelph
Vignettes of hatboxes and handbags twine around the walls of Wild Rose, a women’s consignment store. Most clothes are contemporary and range from casual to career, funky to formal. A great vintage rack often presents encores by the likes of Dior, Chanel and Versace.
Step behind the 50s barkcloth curtains and slip into something fabulous and affordable. 23A Macdonell Street, 519-763-2233.
Mothers and daughters find the best jeans at Blush, a pretty boutique at 38 Quebec Street, 519-822-9669. The younger crowd trip down the stairs to Meow, a basement shop with new and pre-loved fun and unusual clothing. 10 Carden St., 519-821-7442.
Shopping for Books, Flowers and Collectibles in Guelph
The Bookshelf is a fine example of Guelph’s mania for multi-tasking. Stacked to the rafters with books, international newspapers and magazines, this independent operator also serves indie flicks with drinks and fine dining in the attached restaurant.
Book readings, art exhibits, live music and free wi-fi round out its encyclopaedic offerings. 41 Quebec St., 519-821-3311.
Boldness blooms at Sweet Violets, an urban flower shop that shuns boring standbys like carnations and baby’s breath in favour of modern floral design. 38 Wilson St., 519-767-1815.
Curiosities and collectibles bulging from the shelves at Jack’s Corner Store are as entertaining and eccentric as the owner himself. From vintage cookie tins to a 19thC doctor’s bag, when Jack says, “You’ll never see another one like this,” he’s not kidding. 17 Macdonell Street.
Eating and Drinking in Guelph
Take a break from shopping to savour the delicious range of dining in Guelph, where restaurants celebrate the local bounty of farm fresh organic food.