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Visiting Worker Co-operatives in Toronto

logo[1]100From May 11 to May 13, 2011 the CWCF board met in Toronto. This gave me the chance to visit some worker co-operatives in Toronto for the first time. Before and after our board meeting I hopped on a bixi bike and rode to worker co-operatives around the inner city.

The first place on my visit was Drum Travel. They specialize in trips to Africa, Cuba and Latin America and mostly cater to NGOs and academics. Despite the travel agency industry changing greatly, Drum Travel has been operating for over 30 years. Give them a call at 416 964 3388 if you are travelling around the world. Their service is great and you can save lots of headaches, too.

Next I visited Come As You Are. They are on Queen Street West. This area is a little run down, but Come As You Are is definitely a gem. The store is looking great. Everything looks brand new, from the outdoor signage to the displays. It was pretty funny seeing people walk in, take one look and walk right out. I guess it happens often. Come As You Are is a tasteful sex store. The staff are super helpful, even if your questions are pretty ignorant. Whether it is magazines, books, dvds, or toys, Come As You Are has what you are looking for. I bought the book ‘How The Beats Turned America Onto Sex’ and some other goodies. Their website is a great resource on sex information and is also a place to buy online (delivery orders over $40 are free, fast and discreet).

I then headed to Urbane Cyclist. They have a bike repair shop, in addition to a bike and accessories retail store in the front. The first thing I noticed was how friendly the staff were. They really seemed to like working at Urbane. I was quite happy to see lots of shoppers in the store too. I came away with a ‘Bike Riding Pinko’ button, in reference to Don Cherry’s speech at Mayor Ford’s inauguration, and biking socks. I also took home a Push the Envelop (an Urbane Cyclist member’s business) leg band made out of recycled inner tubes, in addition to a bamboo organic fairly traded t-shirt with a bicycle logo stitched on by an Urbane Cyclist member. If you need a new bike or need your current one repaired, Urbane is the place to go.

Lastly, I headed to the Big Carrot. When from across the street I could see solar water heaters on top of the building, I knew my Big Carrot experience was going to be a good one. First off I headed to the Organic Juice Bar and got myself a delicious fruit smoothie. This was a great way to cool down after cycling around the city. I then took a stroll through the Big Carrot grocery store. The place was jam-packed with customers. Since I was starving, I eagerly found myself at their Vegetarian Cafe. I ordered a heaping plate of rice, chickpea curry, veggie shrimp and a samosa. It was the best cafeteria food I have ever had. What a great way to end the day.

All in all, after visiting worker co-ops in Toronto, I was really proud to be a part of the worker co-operative sector.