For a change of pace, I thought I’d share our Thelma & Louise road trip to Toronto a couple of weekends ago. For some time now, I’ve had rolls of fabric sitting at one of my manufacturers in Chinatown, Toronto. Prior to Covid, I’d been driving back and forth to the big city on a regular basis. Sometimes several times a month and sometimes there and back in the same day.
When the pandemic hit, somehow the stars aligned and I was introduced to a local woman-owned production house right here in Ottawa. That made things so much easier.
But, I still had fabric sitting in Toronto, 12 rolls of fabric, all custom knit at Roopa Knitting Mills in Mississauga, Ontario. These rolls of fabric are heavy and awkward to move. Most of them are as tall as me!
When you need a little help from a friend
So I needed help. Someone to go with me and help lift the rolls off a loading dock and into the back of my SUV. Not an easy task or ask. That’s the downside of being on your own. You don’t have that go-to person who’s always there ready and willing to help.
I racked my brain to think of a few able-bodied friends. Friends who I know well enough that it wouldn’t seem weird asking for such a hefty favour. That’s probably why I procrastinated for so long.
Finally, I let Brené Brown’s, “There is no courage without vulnerability”, give me a little nudge and I emailed Nancy Livingstone. Nancy and I are fellow entrepreneurs. We first met at a business event. Then we belonged to the same business group for a while. We’ve had coffee together. We are customers of each other’s businesses. Nancy owns Herbal Maker and I highly recommend her dried herbs. They are so flavourful and can be added to any dish.
However, I wouldn’t have said Nancy and I were close friends. So, I was thrilled when Nancy responded with an enthusiastic YES and thanked me for thinking of her. She thought it would be an adventure. Thus, our trip was dubbed the T&L adventure.
I decided to break up the trip into 2 legs so we wouldn’t be doing it all in one day. We left on a Sunday afternoon and drove as far as Oshawa where I’d booked an Airbnb. Douglas and Cathy were our super hosts. The downstairs accommodations in their home was spacious with 2 bedrooms, very clean, and equipped with all the fixings for a hardy breakfast the next morning. If you’re ever looking for a place to stay in Oshawa, it’s great value for your money.
Our hosts pointed us in the right direction for dinner. We opted to stretch our legs and walk. And, good thing we did because we wouldn’t have crossed paths with these exotic hula dancers.
At dinner and during our drive, Nancy and I found we had a lot in common. There was never a lull in the conversation. We didn’t even have the radio on for most of our trip.
The next morning, we hopped on the 401 and headed into the heart of Toronto…Chinatown. I was pleasantly surprised at how little traffic there was. Well, when I say little, I mean by Toronto standards. There were still a lot of vehicles on the road and a few slowdowns but all in all, it was smooth sailing. I’ve been in much worse. I guess a lot of people are still working from home, at least part of the time.
As we approached the turnoff onto a somewhat hidden road that leads to this crazy back alley where the loading doc is, I said to Nancy, I’m manifesting a clear laneway with no big trucks blocking the way. And guess what, it worked. It was all clear except for the many garbage bins, crates, and parked cars back there. I tucked my vehicle in as best I could and tried not to block any loading docs.
I remember the first few times, I would ring this little buzzer and wait, only to find out the buzzer didn’t work. So, we made our way around to the front of the building and up to the 2nd floor.
Over the years, I’ve found making appointments in Chinatown is a bit loosey-goosey. You kinda just have to show up and hope for the best. Alas, the owner was not there. Most of the employees do not speak English and I do not speak Mandarin. Fortunately, the owner called and had the cutter (the person who cuts the layers of fabric into pattern pieces) show us where the fabric was stored. We moved the 12 rolls on to the rickety old freight elevator.
Bad parking spot
When we got to the bottom and lifted the metal door, there were some excited voices speaking in Chinese. It turned out I had parked in a bad spot. The business next door was trying to receive a shipment and I was blocking the way. The cutter spoke to the person who was justifiably not happy. There was a lot of gesturing and pointing at my vehicle, the freight door, and me, and the sound of unhappy voices. The cutter calmed things down a bit, and I was able to back my car up to the appropriate loading doc.
Thankfully, we got the 12 rolls of fabric loaded into the back of my vehicle fairly quickly. I offered a smile and wave of thanks to the stoned-faced neighbour but he was not having any of it.
I have to say part of me is relieved to have this all picked up. And, the other half of me is going to miss the adventures of Chinatown.
Side trip to Cobourg
On this trip, we decided not to stick around for lunch and headed back to the 401. Nancy got on Google and found The Buttermilk Cafe in Cobourg.
After getting a little mixed up on whether we were on King St East or West, we arrived at The Buttermilk Cafe and it did not disappoint. It’s one of those homey restaurants where you can order breakfast all day. I had a yummy spinach and cheddar omelette, and Nancy had a California Chicken Wrap.
Then, of course, we couldn’t pass up the homemade desserts. I had my eye on the Buttermilk Lemon Pie and I would say it’s the best lemon pie I’ve ever had. As you can see I dove right in and only got a photo half way through. I highly recommend this place if you’re passing by Cobourg. It’s worth the side trip.
The best find
As we were making our way back to the car, I spotted Cheslers Shoes across the street. I love going into small town independent shoe stores. Almost as much as Nancy loves going into small town book shops. Unfortunately, the book store in Cobourg was closed on Mondays.
There’s always treasures to be found in small independent stores. And guess what? I found a pair of kids size 3 Dr. Martens. I haven’t had a pair of docs in decades. And, they were on sale for $29.99 and because they’re kids size, I only paid $1.50 in tax. Woohoo, a pair of good ole black docs for $30. That made the whole trip worthwhile!
We rolled back into Ottawa around 6:30 pm. Nancy’s husband arrived to help us unload the rolls and bring them up the elevator to my home studio. Now, what you used to my changeroom/inventory/display room has been overtaken by large rolls of bamboo fabric.
Fabric for sale
Most of the black bamboo will be going to The Bobbins Production Studio to produce the Joan trousers and cropped cardis. As for the rest, well, if you or anyone you know might be interested in purchasing bamboo French terry or bamboo rib by the metre for home sewing, you’re in the right place.
The bamboo French terry is 68% bamboo rayon, 27% cotton, and 5% Lycra. The width is about 59″ or 1.5 metres open. It comes in black, fuchsia, or a light grey/blue with a hint of periwinkle. The price is $15 per metre + applicable taxes.
Bamboo rib is 95% bamboo rayon and 5% Lycra. The width is approximately 25″ or .64 metres tubular so it’s really 2 layers. It comes in the same 3 colours and the price is also $15 per metre + tax.
Finally, if you happen to know of an entrepreneur/business owner who would like to purchase a roll of bamboo, please have them contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. A roll of French terry is about 35 metres and the GSM (grams/square metre) is 325. A roll of rib is about 30 metres, and the GSM is 370. Of course, purchasing an entire roll will be a lower price/metre.
And there you have it. Our T&L adventure to Chinatown, Toronto. Thank you, Nancy, for being my Louise! Here’s to being brave, making new friendships, having adventures, and getting stuff done!
Until next time,
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Sounds like a fabulous trip! I love a road trip too.
Heidi, I have fond memories of our road trips together!
Loved hearing all the details of your T & L adventure. There are many fond memories of all the fun things we accomplish in our lifetime. Glad your enjoyed your meal at the Buttermilk Cafe in Cobourg. We’ve eaten there in the past many times and do agree that the food is very good. My last pair of shoes were bought at one of the shore stores in Cobourg and they’ve turned out to be the most comfortable shoes ever while standing long hours as a cashier.
Thanks for reading, Marilyn! The Buttermilk Cafe is great! Of course, you would have gone there when you lived in Port Hope. It’s so close by.
i Loved reading about your adventure with Nancy. it sounds like an unforgettable experience with lots of great food and lots of laughs.
Good luck on your new adventures.
Thanks, Nancy! Can’t help but have a good time with anyone named Nancy!