I WENT TO RETUNA AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS INSPIRATION

This article was first published on lawrencevalerez.com and Lawrence so kindly allowed us to share the post here.


20180711-122820_origThe area is forested with a road pushed through like a foot slid through sand. Our little car races along on the way to ReTuna, the recycling mall that has achieved mythical proportions in my circles of zero-wasters, resource-stewardship gurus, and alternate-economic-system seekers. The Swedish forest is gorgeous and hugs the roads and towns tightly all the way to Eskilstuna where we round a bend and see it for the first time. Firstly, it is huge. A gigantic brown warehouse the size of a football (soccer) pitch. It sits next to a gentle rise to a plateau of bins and containers; a transfer station drop-off. A steady stream of cars and trucks ascend and disgorge their unwanteds, like miners throwing gold back into the ground, but not before they must cross clearly marked donation signs, and even take another road that abuts ReTuna, to make donations directly to the building. 

At this point I have no idea what to expect upon entering the mall. I have seen pictures, mainly small and beautiful ones on the little flyer given to me by Stefan and Nicole who run a (gorgeous) vintage resale store in Toronto called Common Sort. But those can’t be believed. It’s too clean. Too beautiful.

I walk through the door and immediately eat my hat.

The polished concrete foyer opens up to a second floor where individual shops wrap around, peering down at us as we stand, agape and impressed. There is the immediate feeling that this space is as it should be. That something here has been done right. It is spotless, polished, dust-free and absent of odours. It is well lit and tastefully decorated, and I have the distinct impression that humans of great skill and enterprise have made this happen.

Straight ahead is an upcycling shop within which stand doors, chandeliers, buckets and tools, all taken from the bowels of the landfill and given new life. To our left is ReBuyke where bicycles donated in bad shape are overhauled by a crew of handy humans and sold for between CAD$80 and CAD$150 each. In ReBuyke is also an assortment of bicycle equipment for sale including clothing and fixtures, and outside, where sit the fixed bikes, also sit refurbished push-mowers and weed-whackers. To the right as you enter is the largest of the shops within ReTuna, and inside it holds racks-upon-racks of spotless clothing, shelves of shoes, and stacks of books.Furniture of all manner queues for your attention upon the shop floor.

At this point, 10 minutes in, I cannot take it anymore. All of this is donated or rescued from the landfill? I could be walking the halls of a Toronto shopping mall. If this was not in ReTuna I assure you my friends there would be zero way to tell the destined place of all of these jail-broken things.
I’m losing it.
I accost a ReTuna human.
And say, “I’m sorry.. but what the hell.”
He smiles and puts his hands together in front of him. His pride is as colourful and thick as a jacket upon his shoulders and is wonderful to behold. His gesture takes in the entirety of this shop, and indeed the entirety of the mall, as he calmly explains that yes, indeed, everything you see was taken from the transfer station, or donated directly to ReTuna. He explains that before the mall opens everyday, all the shop owners in the mall come to the main processing hall and select what they will fix, polish and shine to then live inside their stores. Of course, he says, all bike things go to ReBuyke, all computer things to ReComputeIt, etc, and generally the sorting is done together, based on previously agreed upon divisions. Funding, he explains, primarily comes from the municipality, and they pay rent for their facility. The money they make goes towards supporting ReTuna, but also is invested into education and food-providing services in the community.

​Frankly this man seems at a ridiculous level of ease with the world-changing facility in which he works, a facility that is quite honestly making me feel bodily things unbecoming of a professional, while simultaneously making my hope for humanity swell. We thank him for his time, and in broken Swedish I celebrate his choice to work with such a noble and creative project.

We make our way upstairs to peruse the next level of shops. ReComputeIt, as mentioned, has within it refurbished laptops and desktops, flat-screen televisions, video-game consoles, record and radio players, CD’s and records, cameras and instruments. The man behind the counter has a 500 megaton smile and it’s radiation stays with me the rest of the day.
Next door are two shops with specialty vintage clothing, tastefully displayed. And beside that is ReKids, selling all manner of kids toys and clothing. Again I am floored by how these things are donated. The lady behind the counter at ReKids gives us another dose of happy-radiation and I fear I shall feel the cumulative effects of this place for many years to come.

There is a cafe on this level that looks down upon the foyer and we eat a meal of generous salads at reasonable prices. We sit alongside a diverse crowd, both in age and ethnicity, as they casually chew inside this miracle of a building.
DO YOU NOT REALIZE HOW INCREDIBLE THIS IS.
Maybe they’ve been here before..

We peruse the last few shops holding antique furniture and glassware, brass and bronze artistic pieces, paintings and vases holding cascading vines or aloe stood at attention. The corridor where the last shops stand ends in a glass door beyond which a conference centre can be seen with the ability to serve catered meals. To the right of the door is the Folkhogskola, a one year college for studies in recycle design. Newcomer programs are advertised on boards in the hallways, and when we do leave, 2 hours later, it is with a sense that there is more than upcycling going on here. ReTuna is an example of solidarity with future generations. The humans born with personalities I cannot fathom, using technology I cannot comprehend, perhaps using language I could not understand, come alive in this place. Actions taken within the walls of projects such as these are smiled upon by those future humans, and it is for them that we change this world.

Goodbye, ReTuna. Thanks for the inspiration. If I can do anything before I give nutrients back to the circle of life, it will be to build another one of you.. or at least furnish my future with your products 🙂

*written and images by Lawrence Alvarez

2018 Spring-Summer Trends at Common Sort

Common Sort | Spring/Summer 2018 TrendsWith a new season here our buyers are looking to the runways for this season’s trends so that we can not only have the unique and cool pieces you expect at thrift shops, but also pieces we know a lot of our customer’s will be looking for. We want to be a sustainable and ethical option for finding the latest trends so you don’t have to shop fast fashion or break the bank.

We’ve gathered our favourite trends from around the web/runway and pulled some of our own pieces that can help you build your Spring/Summer wardrobe.Common Sort | Spring/Summer 2018 TrendsCommon Sort | Spring/Summer 2018 Trends

Common Sort | Spring/Summer 2018 TrendsCommon Sort | Spring/Summer 2018 Trends

Common Sort | Spring/Summer 2018 TrendsCommon Sort | Spring/Summer 2018 Trends

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Common Sort | Spring/Summer 2018 TrendsCommon Sort | Spring/Summer 2018 Trends

Common Sort | Spring/Summer 2018 TrendsCommon Sort | Spring/Summer 2018 Trends

Common Sort 10th Anniversary Party

Common Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyHappy Birthday CS!

Common Sort is now a decade old and last Friday we had an evening to celebrate just that. Thank You Kindly helped us pull the whole thing off with an unusual but seriously tasty food spread, a beautiful cake made by The Cupcake Shoppe, spiked orange juice that was an ode to youth (at least for me), great music, a late night dance party and plenty of conversation and laughter.

These past 10 years have seen two more Common Sort’s open and grow into a Toronto staple for thrift shopping. CS is more than the clothes we carry, it’s about sustainable fashion, creating less waste through recycling clothes, inclusivity and community. We love what we do and we love even more that you do too!

We’ve said it once (way more than that) and we’ll say it again…these 10 years would not have been possible without everyone’s support; customers, staff, friends, family, our neighbourhoods and communities, and of course our fearless leaders Nicole and Stefan, who work tirelessly to make Common Sort an amazing place to shop and work.

And a few words from Nicole…
“Where has the time gone? Can’t believe it has been 10 years already.
We have loved spending these years in the best neighbourhoods in the city; watching our regular’s lives change. We’ve seen your children grow and our teenage customers become adults. It’s truly been a pleasure and we are so grateful to our wonderful customers for 10 years of business.”

Common Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary PartyCommon Sort 10th Anniversary Party

Common Sort at Redux

Common Sort | ReduxA fashion event

A couple Fridays back we had the pleasure of participating in Ryerson School of Fashion’s Redux fashion event. Our amazing personal shopper and stylist Megan styled the entire show (save for the footwear) and we had a pop-up shop where we sold selected pieces from our stores. The night was filled with two dance performances accompanied by a runway show, nibbly bits and drinks.

It was a really fun event and incase you weren’t able to make it out we got some photos from the evening.

Common Sort | ReduxCommon Sort | ReduxCommon Sort | ReduxCommon Sort | ReduxCommon Sort | ReduxCommon Sort | ReduxCommon Sort | ReduxCommon Sort | ReduxCommon Sort | ReduxCommon Sort | ReduxCommon Sort | Redux

Common Scents

Common Sort | Common Scents…by common sort

At the beginning of February we released a Common Sort line of candles made up of four scents; Up North, Hot Bath, Laundry Day and MaryJane Rose. Our owners Nicole and Stefan worked with Kerry Lee, owner of Red Sky to create candles we could call our own and sell along side all the amazing clothes we have in store. With a minimalist look, they’ll be an easy fit into your home and great for days spent indoors (bonus: you can reuse the jars after!). We are super proud of these candles and believe you will love the scents as much as we do.

you are lovely (1)

you are lovely (2)

up north (10)

up north (7)

Spring Style Inspiration

Common Sort | Spring Style InspirationWith this spell of warm weather and now that we are buying for Spring, we’ve been browsing online for street style inspiration and trends that we want to keep an eye out for when people bring in their gems to sell to us. Part of our job here is to not only have our own defined personal style and view, but an eye for what others want and what is “in” right now. Here are some looks and trends we are loving lately.

Common Sort | Spring Style InspirationCommon Sort | Spring Style InspirationCommon Sort | Spring Style InspirationCommon Sort | Spring Style InspirationCommon Sort | Spring Style InspirationCommon Sort | Spring Style InspirationCommon Sort | Spring Style InspirationCommon Sort | Spring Style InspirationCommon Sort | Spring Style InspirationCommon Sort | Spring Style InspirationCommon Sort | Spring Style Inspiration

*all images found on pinterest

What Would…

bf552f89320758e2d0dad2558c47b63eAshley Olsen Choose?

When thinking of the Olsen twins and style they are usually thought of as a collective; two peas in a pod. But today on our ‘What Would _____ Choose?’ series, we are focusing on Ashley individually and the pieces she would choose from our shop. Although, I’m sure MK wouldn’t be opposed to sporting some of them, they probably share clothes anyways. Oversized, layered and comfortable are a few words that come to mind when thinking of Ashley’s style…

Common Sort | What Would Ashley Olsen Choose?vintage suede coat, size S – $75

Common Sort | What Would Ashley Olsen Choose?ripped Levi’s jeans, size L – $28

Common Sort | What Would Ashley Olsen Choose?Club Monaco bag – $25

Common Sort | What Would Ashley Olsen Choose?Mantles cardigan, size L – $26

Common Sort | What Would Ashley Olsen Choose?sunglasses – $10 + Aldo loafers, size 10 – $32

Common Sort | What Would Ashley Olsen Choose?Babaton loose tee, size XS – $20

Common Sort | What Would Ashley Olsen Choose?Joe Fresh knit oversized sweater, size S – $10

Common Sort | What Would Ashley Olsen Choose?Tiger of Sweden bag – $70

Designer Pieces / 2

Common Sort | Designer Pieces at Affordable PricesToday we’ve got another roundup of some designer pieces we have in store. If you love designer but can’t imagine paying regular price for them, then thrift stores and consignment (or the internet) are probably your best bet. We are lucky to have sellers that bring in some pretty amazing designer pieces, so here are some of them at significantly reduced prices.

Common Sort | Designer Pieces at Affordable PricesCéline leather boots, size 37.5 – $230

Common Sort | Designer Pieces at Affordable PricesChloé jeans, size M – $120

Common Sort | Designer Pieces at Affordable PricesDior sunglasses – $75

Common Sort | Designer Pieces at Affordable PricesValentino Orlandi bag – $125

Common Sort | Designer Pieces at Affordable PricesArmani Collezioni jacket, size M – $72

Common Sort | Designer Pieces at Affordable PricesMiu Miu mules, size 38.5 – $130

Common Sort | Designer Pieces at Affordable PricesDior suit, size S – $180

Common Sort | Designer Pieces at Affordable PricesCéline slingbacks, size 37.5 – $215

Five Under Twenty / 3

Common Sort | 5 Pieces Under $20Welcome back to another roundup of clothing and accessories you can find at our stores for under $20. It’s probably obvious at this point that shopping secondhand is generally much cheaper than buying new; not only do we keep an eye out for more expensive brands that you can buy at a reduced cost with us, but we also stock our racks with some brands that are already fairly inexpensive and offering them to you for even less. It’s possible to come away from shopping with us with an entire outfit that cost you less than $100, which is pretty darn great, if you ask us.

Common Sort | 5 Pieces Under $20vintage short sleeve turtleneck; size XL – $18

Common Sort | 5 Pieces Under $20vintage Rafferty skirt; size S – $17

Common Sort | 5 Pieces Under $20leather Keds; size 6 – $15

Common Sort | 5 Pieces Under $20velvet H&M pants; size M – $19

Common Sort | 5 Pieces Under $20JCrew stripped long sleeve; size M – $17