Friday, June 25, 2010

A Civic Proposal: The City of Toronto Store

Last year I took a $100 bill to Chicago for the express purpose of buying a parking meter. You see, the Lonely Planet Chicago guidebook referenced this "City of Chicago Store" - a place where actual surplus city property, up to and including street signs and parking meters, was available for purchase. Unfortunately, only individual editions of a guidebook remain static, and by the time I made it to the Windy City there was no sign of the place. I will, however, admit the possibility that the CONSTANT RAIN and my general obliviousness meant that I missed the place entirely.

Still, to the best of my knowledge there's never been anything like that in Toronto. The TTC Transit Stuff store in Union Station was vaguely similar, but its stock was extremely limited and also it's closed now - thankfully I got the subway and RT T-shirts while I still had the chance. If for whatever reason you want to express Toronto pride now through swag you can buy, the only avenue that comes to mind is through the subway station buttons Spacing sells.

I think there's a vacuum here that the city government might do well to fill. Imagine a City of Toronto Store - not just a run-of-the-mill city souvenir store, since there are plenty of those in the airport already, but a place where you can pick up things you wouldn't be able to find elsewhere. Like surplus parking meters - or, for that matter, surplus street signs.

I'd buy that for a dollar! At least! Just needs a bit of scrubbing to get the rust off!

You may have noticed that, since its introduction back in late 2008, the new street signs are starting to appear with greater and greater frequency across the city. At first it was a coup for me to spot one, whereas now I need to put more effort into not looking for them. The counterpoint is that the old acorn signs, the ones that I still think of as quintessentially Torontonian even though I know for a fact the same design is used in Dorval, are disappearing - being replaced. I've heard rumors of the city selling them, but I've never encountered anything concrete. A City of Toronto Store would provide the municipal government with a crackerjack outlet for its superfluous stuff - and if managed properly, it would be that most precious of feathers in a government's hat, an agency that actually turns a profit.

It could be something worth considering.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, you can buy used street signs from Ottawa City Hall as well. Not through the souvenir shop, mind you, but the idea of focusing the souvenir arm and their counterpart to the federal government's Crown Assets disposal operation is a good one for any major city to consider.