10 Step Guide to Holiday Shopping at OOAK

Whether it's your first or fifth time shopping the One of A Kind Show taking place in November this year in Toronto, we've got some HOT TIPS for you below- including how to win a $500 shopping spree, get a discount on your tickets and win best gift giver of the year award for your efforts.

1. Choose the right time and day to go

    Everyone's different- from recent retiree’s looking to fill their day with leisure shopping, to the mom and daughter duo who make it a tradition to walk the show every year- the One of A Kind Team has thought of EVERYONE when it comes to their programming.

    Although the show runs for 11 full days, there’s a good chance you’ll get the most out of OOAK if you intentionally choose the day(s) you visit. This will give you the best starting point for a successful, fun and relaxed show.

    Some specific days to consider:

    • Late night shopping on Thursday Nov 28th. Best for those who like to sip ‘n shop! If you’re sipping champagne, that is. Open till 11pm.
    • Weekdays can be a great day to visit if you’re on a more flexible schedule. This means way more time to chat to makers, no lines and the least stress!
    • Consider shopping the show instead of Black Friday. Your local economy will thank you.
    • Visit twice! This is for show veterans who understand that what you put into the show, you get out. The first time you walk the show, you may miss vendors as you walk down the aisles. When you’re checking out your new favourite booth- there will be one directly behind you that you miss! Make a list of vendors you’re interested in shopping with, and come back with a friend another day, with a budget and plan. 

    2. Consider transport to and from the show

    If you’re in Toronto, chances you own a car are slim. That being said- there is paid parking at the show and you WILL be leaving with an entire seasons worth of holiday treats! You can buy a ticket with your GO pass included if you’re coming from out of town, but for everyone else we suggest getting out your Zipcard or splitting an Uber with a pal.

    Keep in mind the venue is a bit out of the way, so make sure to set your expectations for travel time to and from the show.

    3. Stay Fueled and hydrated.

    This is a BIG show. To get the most out of your visit and ticket investment, make sure you have enough energy to give all the vendors your attention. The best way to do this is to take breaks and stay hydrated.

    The OOAK team knows you need fuel, and luckily there is an entire section dedicated to locally made food, snacks and beverages. This section has grown to be one of the busiest in the show, and the competition to get a booth means these are highly-curated vendors that are definitely worth a visit. And there’s nothing better than an edible stocking stuffer!

    4. Take a Break! Or three

    In the middle of the show floor is a bar, the fashion runway and a cafe. We highly recommend a visit to the cafe mid-way through the show to get you ready for walking the second half of the floor. If you start on one side of the show, walk your way towards the cafe and take a 30 minute coffee break- you’ll find it much easier to get through to the end with new, freshly caffeinated eyeballs. 

    Not to mention, the Make This Universe booth (L31) is directly next to the cafe this year, right in the middle of the show! Perfect time to come get a custom facial oil and grab a DIY kit. Or three. Before you hit the rest of the booths.

    5. Grab booth cards from vendors you love!

    Find a vendor you’re obsessed with, but want to make sure you don’t buy too much of one item? Most makers will have thought of this eventuality, and will have cards in hand with their booth numbers ready to go. Don’t be shy to grab a card and come back to shop once you’re confident you’ve found the best candlemaker, chocolatier, sock maker or natural deodorant brand! 

    While you’re at it, follow your favourite vendors on Instagram. Many of us will have posted our booth number right in our Instagram Bio for easy reference during the show- and half the reason we're there is to grow our customer base. If you’re feeling super organized, find and save vendor’s booth number posts to an “OOAK” specific folder on Instagram.

    6. Bring a friend, but organize "solo" shopping time

    If you’ve been to the show before- this is a great tip for you. Whether you’re with your mom, sister, roommate or bestie- it’s likely that BOTH of you will find something you’re obsessed with during the show.

    Seeing as your shopping pal is likely at the top of your gift-list, make sure to communicate and plan a 30 minute solo shopping sprint. This will ensure you can both spoil each other, armed with the insider info you got from walking the show together!

    It’s the ultimate gift tactic (something we're pretty good at!). The gift will still be a complete surprise, but you’ll know in advance it’s something they REALLY wanted.

    7. Check out the vendors before you visit

    The OOAK show has been running since the 70’s, so they know how to help you prep for the show! Their are in-depth artisan profiles on each individual business owner and maker right on their website, as well as links to shop online directly from brands.

    You can use the OOAK online shopping portal to meet the makers before the show. You can also follow the hashtag #roadtoooak or #ooak2019 to get your Instagram feed filled with vendors in the lead-up to Nov 21st.

    Check out the artisan profiles here:


    8. Be nice to vendors

    Here are some quick tips for interacting with vendors at the show:

    • Most vendors will be the actual business owner. This means they’re a maker, an accountant, a salesman, a booth-builder, the person doing all social media as well as organizing their onsite team. For 11 hours a day. For 11 days straight. Be mindful of how tiring this is- in some cases vendors have move-in times of 4am! Just something to consider when walking the show.
    • Don’t ask for- or expect- discounts! Makers aren’t going to change their prices at the show, both contractually and because it would be unfair to all visitors. It also places undue stress on the vendor (usually the maker) to explain their pricing. Instead of asking about the price- consider the tip below. 
    • If you feel the need to ask why something is a certain pricepoint- or if you’re visiting with someone who you suspect will get sticker shock- I suggest the following script flip: ask the maker HOW they made it. You and your guest will be so astounded by the effort and care that went into each and every item on the floor, that you’ll likely feel like you’re stealing from them by the end of it.
    • Some vendors will be from out of town- as far away as Vancouver or the states! If you love their stuff, make the most of the opportunity and purchase from them at the show. This way you'll save on shipping the next time you want to shop from them.

    9. Follow us on Instagram OOAK shopping guides

    We know this is A LOT to process. But, we’re going to make it as easy as possible for you to luck out at OOAK this year by publishing mini gift guides all the way up until Dec 1st.

    We’ll be tagging featured makers, their booth numbers and Instagram handles so you can simply save our posts to refer to once you arrive at the Enercare Centre.

    This is a great way to take advantage of the full 11 day run and make sure you don’t buy a bunch of candles before stumbling on your favourite candle maker right at the last aisle.

    10. Buy your ticket in advance

    Now that you’re feeling ready to take control of your holiday shopping once and for all- we have some last minute details to share before you hit that checkout button on your tickets.

    Things to consider when buying your ticket:

    • If you know you’ll be snacking, consider the Great Day Out Package, available till Nov 10th. Grab everything you need before the show- you get 1 adult admission, a parking pass, a shopping bag and a food voucher. This is a deal so get it quick.
    • Purchase your tickets through our discount link here!
    • Co-ordinate with a shopping pal when buying your tickets to make sure you both have the day or evening off. Planning this now will mean you can take full advantage of our suggestions in step (1) and (2).
    • Enter their competition to win $500 shopping spree. Because why not?!


    Thanks for following along on our journey to OOAK 2019. Is it obvious that we’re excited?

    Add the following dates to your calendar: 21 November- 1 December 2019.

    And don't forget to come meet the person behind these blog posts (hi!) at Booth L31 and get a customized facial oil while you're at it. Can't wait to see you there!

    Leave a comment

    All comments are moderated before being published