Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

My Humble List of Unique Shops in Downtown Kingston

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.


If you’ve been living in Kingston for a long time now, you might know the downtown core like the back of your hand – or you might not. You might be a newbie to the city, like myself, or maybe you’re exhausted by the world of fast-fashion and student-packed grocery stores. Regardless of which category you fall into, we could all use some more adventure in our lives. These interesting shops just might do the trick for you.


1. Minotaur Gifts, 78 Princess St.



Alright, you’ve definitely heard of this place before. Minotaur is one of the most popular novelty shops in Kingston, and not for nothing. Selling all kinds of products, from board games to bacteria plushies (yes, they exist), this place is basically Wal-Mart on LSD. The staff are welcoming and helpful, and I struggle to remember a time where I left here without smiling. What makes Minotaur truly unique is that they host (FREE!) weekly events, including craft nights on Wednesdays and game nights on Thursdays and Sundays, where new gamers and experts alike can hang out and enjoy a night of board games. They also sell tiny little cactus babies. If that doesn’t make you fall in love with this place, nothing will.


2. Modern Primitive Boutique, 72 Princess St.



…Aaaaand right next door to Minotaur lies this little gem. Modern Primitive is a fashion boutique boasting handmade scarves, clothing, trinkets, and jewelry. It is reminiscent of the vintage shops that line the streets of Kensington Market, with the scent of incense lingering in the air and glass showcases packed with quirky pieces of jewelry. What makes Modern Primitive different from your regular ol’ clothing store (aside from style differences and all the trinkets), is the fact that everything you find here has been brought to Kingston from far away places all around the world. That watch you just picked up? It might have been fashioned by a street vendor in Seoul. That scarf over there might be hand sewn by your ex-best friend’s cousin’s mom’s grandmother. That’s the magical thing about this place; you’ll never know what you might find or where it came from.


3. Tara Natural Foods, 81 Princess St.



If you’re into good food and good value, this place is worth checking out. You don’t have to be someone who buys all-natural or organic to shop here, but chances are you might walk out with more health-conscious products than you ever did at Metro. Tara Natural Foods sells everything that a regular grocery store would sell, except it all tends to be organic or naturally grown. What really made this one of my go-to places for groceries is the tea section. THIS STORE HAS THE LARGEST TEA WALL EVER. Not to mention, there’s something really relaxing about the atmosphere of the shop. It almost feels like a pause from reality when I shop here, like I’m browsing for groceries online, at home, with my PJs on. The hustle bustle of everyday university life just seems to fade away into the background, but that probably has something to do with the dim lighting, if I’m being frank. Even so, this remains one of my favourite places to buy food. Next to Food Basics, of course. Can’t beat that value.


4. Midori Gifts, 238 Princess St.



Talk about the gift shop of my DREAMS. Midori Gifts can be perfectly summed up in one word: CUUUUUUUTE. As the playground for my inner kawaii girl to explore, Midori is known for their plushies, insane stationary selection, and other random house wares like bags, mugs, and jewelry. It is truly a special snowflake in the world of shopping, as I’m quite sure one would not be able to find an EXTRA LARGE Totoro backpack anywhere else. What I think is especially amiable about Midori is its prices. You would think such a unique, one-of-a-kind store would jack up the prices on all its products, because, well, they can afford to. But Midori consistently surprises me in this area. Their notebooks generally don’t go for more than $4 a piece, which is a crazy good price considering they’re cute as heck and better quality (and value) than most places (ahem, looking at you, Queen’s Campus Bookstore). Midori also constantly has raffles and gift giveaways, so if you’re in the market for cute (free) things, you might want to give it a swing!


5. Nexus, 270 Bagot St.



Alas, we have Nexus. If you’re an avid gamer or comic book fan, you’ve probably heard of this place. If you haven’t, well, it’s time to get in touch with your nerdy side, friend. Nexus carries all things gaming. They’ve got dice and miniatures for all your tabletop gaming needs, board games galore, and oh-so-many comic books. Like Minotaur Gifts, Nexus is also known for hosting gaming events almost every day of the week, with some nights dedicated to roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons, and some to board games. If you’ve been wanting to dip your toe into the world of gaming but you’re not sure where to start, start here! The staff are very open and helpful, and I promise you won’t feel judged. Every person I’ve met here has been unbearably cool. I’m hoping they’ll rub off on me.

I like cats, among other things.