Unique Kingston stores

By Abigail Beckett

Kingston is known for its historic charm, its rich arts and cultural scene, and its iconic Lake Ontario waterfront. But it is also notable for its many unique stores. In Resonance Consultancy’s recent “Canada’s best small cities” survey, Kingston ranks third overall in the country. Kingston also ranks in first place in the shopping subcategory, “with all the generic selections you’d expect in far larger cities, but also plenty of fiercely independent boutiques and retailers, ranging from daring jewellers to some of the best-stocked thrift stores you’ll find in Canada.” Kingston’s shopping scene is truly well-rounded, with a great selection of locally owned stores that have everything you’re looking for. Here are just a few of our favourites:

Book stores

Berry and Peterson Booksellers

348 King St. E

If you are a lover of books visit Berry and Peterson Booksellers on King Street East. This unique space has books in every nook and cranny and fills two levels of the store. Berry and Peterson Booksellers is full of age-old classics, lightly used books, and hidden gems.

Novel Idea Bookstore

156 Princess St.

This independent Kingston bookstore has been selling new fiction and non-fiction books since 1988. Novel Idea Bookstore specializes in carrying hard-to-find titles by local authors. If something is not in stock, they are happy to place an order. They also carry journals, planners, calendars, magazines, and literary periodicals.


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2800 Princess St.

Bookland is a new and used bookstore in Kingston’s west end that has all your favourites. Find used copies of popular titles or explore a variety of genres and new releases. The knowledgeable store owner will help you select the perfect book you are looking for. If something is not in stock, Bookland will order it in for you.

Record Stores

Brian’s Record Option

381 Princess St.

Brian’s Record Option was established in April of 1980. Brian’s downtown Kingston store has a wide selection of used and new records, CDs, cassettes, 45s, 78s, DVDs, VHS tapes, posters, and sheet music. For those visiting for the first time, the store can be a bit overwhelming, but Brian knows exactly where to find what you are looking for.

Something Else Records

207A Wellington St.

Owners Matt and Tanya opened their downtown record shop in November of 2018. After moving between Toronto, Ottawa, and Kingston for the last 15 years, the couple decided to return to Kingston and open the store here. Something Else Records has a collection of new and used records, books, cassettes, LP accessories, record players, record storage, local music and art. They also buy vinyl.


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Zap Records

Gary, the owner of Zap Records, is a true music lover. Established in 1991, Zap has new & used records, CDs & music collectables. Zap also offers cash for vinyl and takes requests for CDs and records. The owner has also created a guide of live music venues in the city and an archive of Kingston concert photos on Zap’s website. Visit Zap Records to see the collection of great titles gathered from over the years.

Antique and Furniture Stores

Antique Emporium

77 Princess St.

The Antique Emporium is full of wonderous objects from the past. The store houses antiques, vintage and repurposed industrial pieces, and new décor and giftware. When you walk inside you will be surrounded by all kinds of things both old and new. Check out their Instagram to see the latest collections and antique pieces.

Antique Alley

207B Wellington St.

Antique Alley has been in downtown Kingston for more than 45 years. It is a collectible and antique shop tucked away in the back of an alley on Wellington Street. The outside is quite deceiving as once you enter the shop you will be amazed at the 4,000 square feet of inventory inside. Ask Gayle and Gary if you need any assistance finding what you need.


The Carson House

1640 Bath Rd.

Owner Michelle and her family have worked together to create a unique shopping experience at The Carson House. This upscale consignment furniture and home décor store has a variety of pieces inside a 5,000 square foot showroom. The staff will be sure to tell you the stories behind the eclectic finds on display.


Modern Primitive

Upper Level at the Cataraqui Centre

Modern Primitive has been a local Kingston store since 1991. In early August the original downtown location suffered from extensive damage caused by a fire. Luckily, everyone was safe. While the loss of their long-running downtown location has been a shock, Modern Primitive has a second location in the Cataraqui Centre that remains open. This store is full of treasures and one-of-a-kind pieces including trinkets, jewellery, and clothing.


131 Princess St.

Check out Cloth Clothing during your next downtown shopping spree. Cloth supplies women’s fashion and accessories from a variety of brands with unique styles. Whether you are looking for casual, classic, or elegant outfits, Cloth has everything you need. Owner Cheryl Walker has over 30 years of experience in the industry and is very knowledgeable about her products.

Food stores

Tara Natural Foods

81 Princess St.

Tara Natural Foods, located downtown on Princess Street, is an excellent store for all things health food. When you walk into the store you are hit with an immediate aroma of herbs and spices. Find fresh produce, vitamins, and other natural food products for sale. Check out their Facebook page for updates on arrivals of speciality products.

Cooke’s Fine Foods

61 Brock St.

This late 19th century building, now home to Cooke’s Fine Foods, used to be the “Italian Warehouse” that opened in 1865. The same floors, counters, and tin ceiling – although with a few coats of paint – are still intact today. Hugh Cooke’s vision was to offer customers fine foods and excellent service. Products were shipped along with props for merchandising purposes to create a unique space and offer rare products. Some of these vintage items are still in the store today. If you are looking for kitchen essentials, fine cheeses, or gourmet coffee, Cooke’s is the place to visit. They also have a variety of other products and a portion of items available for online ordering.

General Brock’s Commissary

55 Brock St. 

In 1812, General Brock established a commissary on Brock Street to purchase supplies from local farmers, producers, and artisans to ensure that the garrison and citizens of Kingston would have a steady supply of essentials. Today’s Commissary continues that tradition by bringing in the best of locally produced Ontario condiments, cheese, charcuterie, specialty food, and meals. Visitors will also find a delightful assortment of Canadian-themed gifts and souvenirs that reflect Kingston’s heritage.

Kingston Olive Oil Company

62 Brock St.

Kingston Olive Oil Company is a family-owned business in downtown Kingston. Owner Shaun Finucane says that travelling and experiencing good food helped them with opening their own tasting bars in Kingston and Prince Edward County where they import extra virgin olive oil. Olives are grown and pressed by small artisans and farmers where they important seasonally according to crush date. Balsamic vinegars are aged in wood casks and imported from Modena, Italy. Visit the store on Brock Street and sample your choice of olive oil and see what other products are available.

Other stores


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BSE Skate Shop

225 Princess St. 

BSE was established in 1997 by Jay Bridges. Jay used to be the senior photographer for SBC Skateboard Magazine. While the store started out in a van in the late 90s, Jay eventually opened a shop in Belleville and finally Kingston in 2013. The shop now includes a coffee bar serving Quietly Coffee and a private back courtyard. At BSE you’ll find decks, hard goods, apparel, and shoes that reflects the modern skating scene.

Classic Video

40 Clarence St.

Established in 1987, Classic Video is Kingston’s only video rental store with over 50,000 DVDs and Blu-rays. Find new releases and old classic films to rent. The staff is friendly, and the selection is excellent. If you are looking for something specific, ask the staff and they will be happy to help you find it.


77 Princess St.

Stop by Sterling for fine silver jewellery. Shop necklaces, bracelets, and earrings in a variety of designs. Whether you are looking for the perfect gift or something for yourself, this downtown Kingston store has great customer service and a wide range of unique products that will have you leaving with something you love.