Alternative Thinking got established at 758 Bathurst St in 2009 as a small alternative bookshop as part of Willow Books, a used bookstore. The overwhelming feedback from the customers and word-of-mouth from the community allowed for the entity to expand into a holistic lifestyle shop that many of us have grown to be a part of ♥
2006: SENSING AN IDEA
The process of fusing relevant components had commenced. Influenced heavily by the psychedelic culture in both aesthetic, lifestyle and philosophy helped provide a backdrop for the language, culture and stylistics. Psychedelic literature and culture has coined the 'multidisciplinary' approach, a practical framework to help explore alternatives in regards to perspectives and ideas. The great psychonauts in the early 70's also laid the foundation for integrative models for approaching the concept of how the mind works by interface/hacking the inner realms. Integrative theories became the common element in presenting bodies of work. The visual decor and music was influenced by the electronic psychedelic music culture and visionary art culture, forming a fine resonance, sharing appreciation of the sense of oneness.
A book collection representing the scope of a 'multidisciplinary thinker' felt like a natural start. Thus opening as part of another bookstore (Willow Books) with a small collection of a few hundred books to start with. Topics were not limited to meta-physics and extended to fringe sciences, earth sciences, ecological sustainability, nutrition and psychedelia. Mostly covering recent publications on the mind-body-spirit connection and insights.
The timing of our grand opening coincidentally aligned with the closing of the largest metaphysical bookshop that was located in Yorkville at the time. The discovery of our shop by the same community sparked a word-of-mouth message of a 'new' spot in Toronto with a similar vibe. Our collection started growing and our initial response from those suddenly stumbling upon our little shop was encouraging enough to gain trust in expanding the operation.
2011: FIRST STEPS
Marking the point where Alternative Thinking had expanded fully into the entire space. Willow Books had moved to another location, allowing us to manage a larger container and feel the bounty of ideas and possibilities. Our first steps were to add a holistic section to the shop and start carrying complementary products to our book library, such as ceremonial tools and tarot decks.
A big role in our development had to do with leaving the back space open for community gatherings. We developed an idea for a sharing space where all events were operating under the 'Gift Economy' model. Meaning most of the sharings/gatherings were free or by donation. This concept propelled the ever-present excitement from the community to share moments with each other in group meditation, discussion, sound jams, performances and workshops. Our biggest event was on 11/11/11 when we live streamed premiered the 'Thrive' documentary. Attracting well over 100 people to the shop, this was when a real sense of the alternative community hub was manifested. A gathering celebrating the 11/11 synchronicity!
2013: GROWTH POTENTIAL
On the heels of Winter Solstice 2012 being perceived as the global shift in consciousness, spirituality and the new age movement started reaching a broader audience. Well being and conscious lifestyle setting a trend for a new generation of urbanites. Balancing the pollution of the city life with healthy food choices, listening to our body closely and mindful practices. At this point the shop evolved into being represented as a holistic lifestyle boutique. We introduced crystals, jewelry, clothing and food, eventually growing into a one-stop-shop for all alternative lifestyle choices including many nutritional options. The cross-pollination propelled the growth factor of our customer base of health enthusiasts, energy workers, crystal lovers, psychonauts and the rest of the communities in Toronto that fall under the 'alternative' sphere in western society. This allowed us the opportunity to expose others to lifestyle options that naturally resonated.
Our focus was aimed at providing the best value for the highest quality and an abundant selection. In addition, a sense of belonging was established by supporting ideals that often get tabooed. Cultivating the sense that 'we can be ourselves' in this container and journey together to see where that may lead. A level of resonance had grown among the shop staff and the customers, a hint of a bright and purposeful future had seeded
Our extensive selection of hand-made clothing and the opening of our very own organic vegan take-out cafe were the completion pieces that embodied the scope of our understanding to fully support one's quest for self realization. A retail flagship for the 'conscious' crowd had the feel of a busy, friendly marketplace where shopping for essentials and house-hold items became more accessible and fun. The values and ideals were felt in our approach to doing business. We gained trust in our community for being the go-to place for numerous items by maintaining our excellent reputation of quality goods and fantastic prices.
Up until this point, the nature of this experiment was to allow organic growth for the natural unfolding of consciousness, viewing ourselves as agents operating on behalf of the Universe. This meant taking in the feedback that was provided and merging it with our intuitive feeling of the 'right' path towards a higher purpose. The moment had arrived where the entity that was formed needed definition, recognition and representation. This began our journey of understanding our real value being derived from all our experimentation and assessing the substantial feedback gained.
2017: PURPOSEFUL VISION
Admittedly, as a retail shop, our aim has never been to develop great selling skills as per the traditional 'salesman' school of thinking, for the sole purpose of making a sale. Disguised as a 'for-profit' corporation, we investigated deeper into the inquiry of the nature of exchange, rooted in the fundamentals of business. What would it mean for us to regard ourselves a 'conscious business'? That’s the question that steered our curiosity. We quickly adopted the theory that greater exchange theoretically lays in a mutually beneficial relationship, a symbiotic exchange. Well, how do we become aware of such relationships?
Awareness manifests when we connect to pieces of new information, sparking an information relay, formulating a perception and getting a better sense of what's already there. Informing ourselves with data to better the neural network of relationships and associations of the brain, actually produces more 'consciousness' in some sense. This notion clarifies our function and duty as catalysts for enhancing understanding by sharing ways to interface with information, boosting awareness.
Integration has been the overlaying method for us merging various practices and ideals into daily operations, generating better flow and direction. Following integration is the process of synthesization and distillation of the pure essence of the most effective possible framework.
2019: BEYOND SET STANDARDS
10 years of operating at 758 Bathurst St denotes the point for our vision, mission and principles being published. We look forward to communicating, implementing and together enjoying this journey dubbed as 'Alternative Thinking'.
We are beaming with excitement and anticipation of what's to come! We have taken the liberty to develop a profound vision that excels and goes well beyond current industry practices, philosophy and operating standards. The motto of 'the only limits are one's that we set for ourselves' has served in furthering the exploration to provide solutions for better living. November 2019 being the point where we give rise to a formal identity with purposeful intentions and messages... We promise it wouldn’t disappoint!
We thank you all once again for being such a bright expressions of light <3
Our hearts are full of hope for the future, strengthening our spirit on this path!
We are ONE