Boots & Pine

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Melissa Ball in Trinity Bellwoods

Where did you grow up?

Rain City aka Vancouver

What brought you to Toronto?

It’s not so much what as who. My best friend Lana and I moved to NY and were living in Bushwick, together for about a year. When my visa ran out, I returned to Van and just felt like I was spinning my wheels. Lana had already moved to Toronto and quickly convinced me to visit her. I was a bit skeptical. To quote Steve Martin, I thought Toronto was “just like New York but without all the stuff.” Needless to say after that one trip in I never looked back. So that kind of directs me back to the first question. I’ve done some of my best growing up here. It’s an amazing city. Toronto has my heart.

What do you do for a living?

I scavenge like a raven for vintage. I relate myself to any scavenging animal really. Even the ugly ones. I find a profitable use for the things people throw away.

How did you get started?

As soon as I got my first bit of babysitting money I started buying my clothes at thrift shops so I could be “grunge” at 12. I used to cut a lot of thumb holes in my sweater sleeves. My friends were into thrifting too but it just stuck with me for the long term. I’ve been working in vintage for just over a decade now, so it just made sense that I’d eventually be my own boss. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

What’s your favorite thing about your neighbourhood?

I live across from Bellwoods park and the odd white squirrel sighting is always a winner, but I often confuse them with trash, like a white plastic bag, etc.

What’s the last treasure you found?

In the summer, I found an old jiffy markered jean vest. It has a snake on it that wraps all around the waist and a bloody “Alice Cooper” scribbled on the back. It is my favorite thing ever. I wore it to his concert and I’m sure people thought I’d drawn it myself. Wish I could say I did.

If you were going to eat your last meal in Toronto, where and what would you eat?

Burger’s Priest. I’d get “the Option” with fries and a rootbeer. Good night!

If you could have a sleepover with anyone who has ever existed, who would it be?

I’d have a pillow fight and watch movies all night with John Waters and Divine, then get PeeWee Herman and John Candy to make me a pancake breakfast in the morning.

If your life was a TV show, what would be the theme song?

My friend Cody (the Chief Salvage) wanted me to say the Allman Brothers song “Sweet Melissa” so bad, but I don’t think it’s really me. My day to day is more like the Benny Hill theme song.

What does Toronto need that it doesn’t have now?

A better looking waterfront! Ours is sad and grey. It has potential to be like Chicago’s! We all know that’s gonna take a while, so Toronto island will keep me happy in the mean time. But I should shut up, I grew up looking at mountains.

Visit Chosen Vintage at 960 Queen St. West and follow them on Instagram – chosenvintage

© 2012 Arden Wray