Orfus Road. This is an area of Toronto, that will make you think twice about venturing off State-side to do your outlet shopping, and spend your hard-earned Canadian dollars inside the country. Tourists? Orfus Rd. is a must-visit if you want to make sure you honour your promise of bringing back your parents, your cousins, aunts and uncles, all your sisters and brothers something nice (yet economical) when you return home. If you haven’t been to Orfus Road before, or need a refresher course for stores to hit, here’s a guide that will help. I’ve listed most of the stores I frequent, and some other notable outlets.
When To Go
You’ll need at least a couple of hours to get a good feel of Orfus Road. The best time of day to go is in the morning or early afternoon, because the stores get packed later on in the day with people getting off work or school. Weekends are almost always busy, but again, aim for a early visit. Most of the stores are open during official holidays (I’ve been on Canada Day, and Civic Holiday in August) so take this into consideration when you’re suffering from withdrawal when all the other malls are closed.
If you’re brave, try shopping on Boxing Day for amazing deals, but be prepared brave the mosh-pit of hungry bargain hunters and to wait a while in line to cash out. I went once in the late evening, but regretted it a bit because the lines were extremely long. It’s times like those that I wish I was a morning person.
It’s close enough to the suburbs that people on the outskirts can get to in a reasonable amount of time, and near enough to the subway line for easy access. Orfus Road is located between Caledonia Road and Dufferin Street in Toronto, just north of Lawrence Ave. Landmark-wise it’s about a 7-minute walk from the great Yorkdale shopping mall.
Some of the stores have regular retail hours, but the majority of them are only open until 6pm Monday to Wednesday and close between 7-9 for the rest of the week. On the weekend hours are usually 10-6 on Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday. Check the store’s official site for detailed hours of operation.
What to wear
Dress for the weather and keep in mind that some of these stores might be a tad humid inside from the mass of shoppers and you might start to sweat while your dashing across the aisle trying to snatch that last red blouse before someone out-races you.
You’ll probably get tired from walking because there are a lot of outlets on this stretch of road. So forget the stylish heels and wear some comfy running shoes and well as roomy pants/shorts. Trust me… if you’re a shop-a-holic like I am, you’ll thank me for it.
Note that in most of the stores, you’ll have to leave your shopping bags at the doors. They’ll give you a pick-up ticket for it. It benefits both the store (from those naughty kleptomaniacs) and you (so you have more free arms to hold merchandise in).
There are a couple of ways to get to Orfus Rd. depending on your location in the city. If you’re taking public transit, and are near a subway line, make your way to Wilson Station and catch the #29 Dufferin bus south (a 4 minute bus ride… I wouldn’t walk it from the station though). I usually take this route b/c the Dufferin bus runs pretty frequently and I tend to be a bit lazy at times… :D
Alternatively, you can take the subway to Yorkdale, walk through the mall (being careful not to spend too much of your Orfus Road money inside), and exit at Sears. Then you can walk through the parking lot, cross the street, walk down a couple of blocks and hit Orfus Road.
You can also bus it towards Dufferin St. and take the #29 north to Orfus Road, if you’re south of the area.
If you’re driving, the 401 is right there, so just exit on Dufferin St. and drive south for a couple seconds to Orfus Road.
If you’re planning on driving to Orfus Road during the busy hours (usually on weekend afternoons), be prepared for a lot of traffic and a lot of searching to find a parking spot. The outlets don’t have many spots in front of the store (especially Stitches, and compared to the amount of people who shop inside, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a spot). Your best bet is to park in the Yorkdale Adult Learning Centre/Secondary School parking lot (in the middle of Orfus Road), or at Rinx (if they’re not too busy), then walk your way towards the myriad of shops during your shopping extravaganza.
Ah, yes… a lot of shopping calls for fuel. There a noodle place and a Korean restaurant near the Dufferin side of Orfus Road. If you have a sweet tooth, stop in at Demetre’s for some sweet crepes and ice cream. There are always hot dog venders within feet of each other on Orfus Road, so you can always buy some street meat to satisfy your hunger for $2. Don’t forget about Dollarama where you can purchase some cold drinks for a loonie.
There aren’t any public washrooms in any of the stores (at least in the ones I’ve been to). Signs are usually posted attributing to that fact). So if you have to go, try Rinx (the large indoor entertainment complex), one of the restaurants near Dufferin Street or wait until you get home.
All the stores should have a choice of payment options: Cash, Debit, Visa or Mastercard (with the expection of Dollarama which is cash only, although now I think they’ve implemented a debit machine). Just make sure you have extra for all those impulse buys!
My pick of the best bargain, dollar store. It’s one of the first stores you’ll see when you head down Orfus Road off of Dufferin. The wide selection of merchandise (and it’s quality compared to similar dollar stores) is great, in my opinion. You can find anything here. Whether you need to accessorize your new apartment, shop for summer party supplies, or just need some snacks to sneak into the nearby movie theatre, Dollarama’s got it. And guess what? Everything is only $1 (or less).
Grande Cheese Factory Outlet
Right next to Dollarama, this place has got to be a cheese-lover’s paradise. I’m sorry to say that as a cheese-lover, I haven’t gotten the chance to stop here yet… mainly b/c I didn’t want to shop for clothes carrying around a bunch of cheese in hot weather, or try to balance mounds of cheese with a handful of bags full of clothes after a day of shopping. I will make a stop there soon though. I heard they have a broad variety of Italian food products, deli-meats, and almost every kind of cheese imaginable at reasonable prices.
Urban Behaviour World
A nice mix of casual and club clothing at great prices. They have a large 3 for $10 rack in the middle of the store, but you’ll have to search to find something that you’ll like. A bunch of samples and end of season merchandise is located at the rear of the store. The rest of the outlet is filled with multiple offers (e.g. 2 for $10, 2 for $15), and current fashion items on the wall displays are priced between 30 and 50% off the regular price. I always find something I like when I go here. The have a men’s outlet a few stores down on the same side of the street.
There’s a mix of dressy and casual style items at this liquidation outlet that carries men’s and women’s high-quality fashions, footwear and accessories. There dress selection is pretty good, so if you’re looking for something semi-formal to wear at a good price, here’s the place to get it. The sizes are varied as well, which is a plus. Best of all, it’s a Canadian manufacturer/retailer. A great place to discount shop (especially during their midnight madness events).
Nine West Shoe Studio Outlet
A large selection of both out-of-season and current styles of fashion footwear, handbags and accessories at good prices. I just wished they carried shoes in my size (yes, I have big feet). It’s located beside the Le Chateau outlet.
I remember when Stitches was the hot spot to shop for clothes back when I was in high school. With the exception of the knock-off ‘Exco’ gear, this outlet store is packed full of great deals on clothes for the season for both men and women. I bought my winter jacket a few years back for $10… and boy was it ever warm! There’s so much stock here, that I think they can afford to sell the clothes as cheap as they do (mostly out of season with a great selection of current merchandise). Currently they have a “save 50% off the lowest ticketed price on everything in the store” sale (they do this periodically throughout the year) which can be as low as $2.50 for a tank top or skirt. I even noticed that they started to organize their jean display tables by size which is a plus (size 0 – 15). One note: There’s no dressing room.
With a lot of the same fashions as Stitches, this outlet is located in the same ‘mega store’ warehouse as it’s sister-store. The selection is not as varied, but they usually have the same type of sales. Like Stitches, there’s no dressing room, so be prepared to give some of your purchased items to friends or charity if they don’t fit when you get home (at those prices, it doesn’t matter anyway).
For one of the smaller outlets, this store has a decent selection of ‘flirty’ wear for women. They had some really nice summer dresses for $15 the last time I was there, along with some cute accessories.
Beddington’s Bed & Bath
This privately owned Canadian retail chain specializes in quality fashion beddings and bath items, as well as some home decor merchandise. They usually have great deals and a good selection of sheets, duvet covers and bath towels.
Here you’ll find a lot of clearance merchandise that you may have seen at regular retail Fairweather stores. A pretty good all-around selection of casual clothes, summer dresses to more formal wear and business attire. Often has ‘tax-free’ sales and 2 for $10-ish deals.
Kitchen Stuff Plus
I love kitchen gadgets, and Kitchen Stuff Plus outlet sure has a lot of them. Along with bathroom accessories, ceramics, kitchen appliances, candles, furniture, cookware, glassware and other home decor items, this store has sure got a wide selection of merchandise at great prices. Some brand names they carry include KitchenAid, Cuisinart and Umbra. Don’t forget to take a look at their little bargain bins near the front of the store by the cash registers… they usually have good clearance items there. Several times a year (during the warmer months), Kitchen Stuff Plus hosts ‘garage sales’ outside of their Orfus Road location to sell off various items that were either overstock, out of season, slightly damaged or missing part of the set. Near the end of the sale for the day, they’ll usually sell you a large plastic bag for $5 and tell you to fill it up with whatever’s left on the table (if you’re lucky, there’ll still be some decent items left) in order to get rid of the stock. I’m just glad I got my uber-cool travel coffee mug for $1, that sells for over $20 in the store!
The Shopping Channel – Off Air Outlet
All those gadgets and gizmos you’ve seen on The Shopping Channel will probably make its way to this outlet, which has a large selection of discounted merchandise. Best of all, you can see the products up close and even try some of them out.
Here you’ll find a large variety of swim-wear for women, girls, boys, and even babies. They also carry a selection of men’s swim trunks and aerobic-wear priced to clear.
Roots Factory Outlet
Roots has some of end-of-season and clearance merchandise, such as jackets, shoes, bags, accessories and casual clothing for the whole family. A great spot for saving off the regular prices (make sure you catch their sales promotions).
Barnes & Castle
Here’s another kitchen and houseware outlet that will be beneficial to visit. Barnes & Castle has clearance-priced, discontinued and new small kitchen appliances, cookware and flatware. If your hosting a party at your home, this is a good place to stop at for platters and drink glasses.
Sil Vous Play Sports
Not exactly on Orfus Road, but it’s located just off it at 131 Cartwritght Ave. I know there’s always a line up when a sale is announced at their Steeles and Highway 27 location, but I’ve never been to this one. They’re closed on Monday and Tuesday, but they have a nice selection of shoes, apparel, accessories and sporting equipment from brand names such as Nike, Adidas, Puma, Converse, Reebok, Timberland, Vans and K Swiss.
There are many other stores on Orfus, including Bennix & Co, International Clothiers, Randy River, Ponti Designer Menswear, bridal wear shops and other wholesale retailers. Way too many to name and review in this guide, but be sure to visit them yourself (you don’t have to buy anything.)
Head Home and Clear Out Your Closets
I hope this guide on Orfus Road will be beneficial to you. Hopefully it won’t cause too much strain on your wallet. It’s a great area to shop year-round for those Christmas gifts, and half the fun is browsing, not necessarily buying. When you get home, you can go through your closet and drawers, organize your old clothes to make room for all the new ones, by giving some to the local Goodwill or charity. One of the best parts of a visit to Orfus Road is finding that one-of-a-kind item that cost you next to nothing. Multiple visits are recommended. ;)