Vava Valentina and Angela Phung are The Store on Queen (TSOQ). The two have put everything into their shop, and the city has responded in kind. In less than one year, TSOQ has become an integral part of the Queen Street West experience and a landmark in the Toronto fashion scene. “TSOQ is not just a store; it’s a lifestyle.”
The two came together only one year ago. Vava had sold her previous shop and moved to Toronto in search of a spot on Queen Street West to begin again. Angela, a successful restaurateur, came to the city for a year-long vacation and to get to know the area. The two met for their first lunch in February of 2012, and maybe it was happenstance, but on their drive home they spotted a storefront they both agreed was perfect. Seven days later, both their names were on the lease and TSOQ was born.
In a short amount of time, TSOQ has grown into a staple of Queen Street West. “Fashionable, fun and affordable,” it is in the forefront of buyer Vava Valentina’s mind as she searches for things to fill the store. One is immediately surrounded by colourful, vibrant patterns that break boundaries and set trends. The girls pride themselves on creating more than “just a store that people shop at.” It is a “dance party,” a “GirlGab” hangout, and a “retail therapy session” that can brighten even the worst of days. They describe TSOQ as “fun, loud, energetic, and comfortable with the sweet smell of vanilla flowing in the air.”
TSOQ brings the outgoing and fun-loving side of the city to light, but the city also gives back. The pair say they are “honoured and so appreciative” of all they have received so far. Angela Phung, who heads branding and marketing for the pair, says Toronto boasts some obvious advantages. She points to the city’s “huge diversity, densely populated [area] and great fashion scene,” taking full advantage of Toronto’s upbeat spirit and Queen Street’s high foot traffic. Aside from the snow, which hinders their trips to the beach, Toronto fits Vava and Angela perfectly.
TSOQ has come to define the Queen Street West experience in Toronto. Rapidly, this tiny shop has grown into a spot talked about all over the city. Whether you’re looking for some fun additions to your wardrobe, or you’re looking to replace it altogether, The Store on Queen needs to be a part of your next shopping trip.
WORDS: TIM LUTHER
PHOTOS: ISAAC ZELUNKA
HAIR & MAKEUP: NINA MULLER