St. Lawrence Antiques Market closes after three decades

A weathered teddy bear from the 1940s, movie cameras and oil paintings, coins dating back to the Roman Empire – treasures strewn across tables at a downtown antiques market town.

Every Sunday, for three decades, the market has come to life here, at the Saint-Laurent Market: formerly in the north building, today under a marquee. But this Sunday, it was the swan song of the market. After 31 years, founder Marlene Cook said she couldn’t go on.

After struggling with business for the past two years, she fears there won’t be enough traffic in the area this summer to get the market back on its feet. Buying larger antiques — rugs, carvings and furniture — often required access to a vehicle, she said, and a city pilot project will close part of Market Street to drivers June 1 from this year until September 30.

She fears that this will be enough to dissuade motorists from descending into the area.

“I’m closing this Sunday, because I want to go out with a positive market for all of my dealers,” Cook said in an interview over the weekend with the Star. “What’s going to happen is hopefully we’ll have a wonderful market – we’ll see everyone and then we can move on.”

Irene Van Horsen strikes a deal on the last day of operations at the Saint-Laurent Antiques Market.

During its final day, the market bustled with visitors, ebbing and flowing between its stalls. For more than 15 years, this has been Irene Van Horsen’s Sunday routine, where she exhibits her collection of antique toys and delicate handmade lace. With the news of the market closing, she had tried to pass on her email address and phone number to any regular shoppers she saw.

But, she told the Star, it just wouldn’t be the same without that Sunday gathering.

Hussain Saffar started visiting the market as a collector of fine carpets and rugs around 25 years ago. For four years he has been running his own stand of Persian rugs, most of which come from Iraq or Iran. “I was hoping it would stick,” he said of the long-running market, sitting next to his offers on Sunday morning. “But, you know, there are realities in life.”

Every Sunday, for three decades, the market has come to life here, at the Saint-Laurent Market: formerly in the north building, today under a marquee.  But this Sunday, it was the swan song of the market.

Two tourists passed by, stopping to ask questions on a deep blue silk carpet. It was $500, Saffar said, although he could offer a wool rug for less. They should, however, jump on the offer today, he said, advising them of the impending market shutdown. Both expressed surprise and asked if his wares would be offered elsewhere. “I don’t know. I have no idea,” Saffar replied.

Looking at other sellers, he said their relationship had become family. “I’ve known most dealerships for so many years, and nobody’s happy to shut it down,” he said.

“People love history and love antiques, and this is the right place to find it in Toronto.”

Seven-year-old salesman Jacky Siew will be missed by people and the market and the way he connected people.

It was a pleasure to hunt for a unique item, Cook said, whether it was a prized comic book, an elegant gold ring or, for her, a vintage photograph. Sometimes buying from a market stall meant a chance to learn tidbits about an item’s past life, she said, if a dealer could offer information about where they bought it, such as a garage or estate sale.

“When they go to a store or shop offline, it’s very cold and it’s not connected,” Cook said. After the isolation of the past two years, she feels that connection is more important than ever. “When people came to the market after it reopened, they were like, ‘Oh my god, I’m so happy. ”

When Hans Kotiesen started selling his old collection of film cameras, he listed the items on eBay and Craigslist. But over time, Kotiesen said he wanted to do something more active and personal. “I’m retired and I thought, you know, I don’t want to be disconnected from people, and lock myself up somewhere and think about the past,” Kotiesen said, sitting at his table on Sunday. “So I went to the market. It was about ten years ago. »

Camera salesman Hans Kotiesen has been in the market for ten years and says coming to market makes him feel alive.

“There’s a rush to talk to people, explain things and crack a few jokes. There’s a lot of human communication going on,” he said. Picking up a camera, he notes the different mechanisms and how they let in light. He sees old machines as a “reflection of history”.

Cook was melancholic this weekend. She thought of the good old days, when antique hunters didn’t have online tools to immediately judge whether something was a vintage treasure or a dated trinket. “Now there’s Google Lens. You can take a picture of something and match it up, see how much it’s on eBay or Etsy or where it sold. In those days, who knew how much?

“You had to have the intelligence, or just buy it because you liked it.”

Buttons, discs and patches seen here on the last day of operations at the Saint-Laurent Antique Market.

While Sunday was the curtain call for the St. Laurent show, Cook hopes to one day set up a monthly market elsewhere. On Sunday, cards were set up on a table for visitors to jot down their contact details, to be kept up to date if any future markets arise. By 11 a.m. the clear plastic box was almost stuffed.

“It’s not just a place to shop,” Cook said, looking back on the decades since she set up her first tables, charging those dealers $25 each.

“It’s a community within a community.”


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