When you open a store, one of the most difficult tasks you will encounter is thinking of a name. You make a list and bounce name ideas off family and friends. One by one that list gets whittled down to one. If you are lucky. Most often it leads to list number two, maybe even list number three and four. What does the name mean? What are you trying to convey to your potential customer? When we opened Department Store, it was a temporary pop-up. It all came together rather quickly and choosing a name was something we left to the end. We chose Department Store because it fit, we offered a variety of home goods and liked the idea of a generic name - the focus was the quality of the goods we had on offer. So what changed? Why did we decide to change the name of our store to Merchant of York?
The Power of Place
More than anything, the history of our new location influenced our name change. In moving to Moss Park we moved into the historic centre of Toronto - the former town of York. The Moss Park we know today was home to William Allan, a businessman and one time postmaster general. Allan owned a general store and constructed a wharf, Merchant's Wharf, which became one of the first docks for large sailing ships. In 1819 Allan purchased a 100 acre lot that bordered Queen Street to the south and Shuter Street to the north, between Jarvis and Sherbourne Streets. At the time he bought it, the area was completely undeveloped, it was simply called Park Lot 5. On this land he built his estate, Moss Park (the main house is pictured above). His son, George William Allan, went on to subdivide the land and build Allan Gardens. Unfortunately, the original house was acquired by the city and demolished in the 1960's.
The building our shop is located in, and those all around us, are steeped in history. It was important to us that we pay homage to this history through our name. We are the modern day merchants of York.