Three Ways Markets Ontario is Changing What it Means to Shop Local

Star icon. Guest Contributor

There’s no doubt about it—COVID-19 changed the way we shop. But, while a whopping 66% of Canadians increased their online shopping habits during COVID-19, shoppers are getting back into stores as the restrictions across Ontario ease—and it’s just the thing we need to jump-start our economic recovery!

Since last year, our team at Markets Ontario (previously known as Markets by Dream Day), have been occupying the former James Printing building in Bowmanville. While we’ve been closed more this year than we’ve been open, we’re excited to get back to some normalcy as we offer this amazing community a new shopping experience like no other.

As a boutique multi-vendor marketplace, we aim to bring the best of Ontario’s handmade products together in one convenient location—featuring high-quality and handmade artisanal home goods, food, clothing and more, from more than 100+ local vendors.

Here’s what else makes Markets Ontario an incredible place to shop, and how we’re changing what it means to shop local:

Drinks, coconut squares, and the Roam Coffee storefront at Markets Ontario.

Photos courtesy of Shelly Kowalski-Totino and Morgan Chin-Yee (third photo).

The new café

When our Bowmanville location opened in August 2020, we knew that we wanted to offer the downtown community something new, exciting and different. The idea of a storefront café had been brewing (pun totally intended) since 2019, and the dream slowly became a reality at the beginning of 2021 when Roam Coffee and Nest Specialty Desserts started to collaborate—offering fresh baked goodies at Roam’s mobile coffee cart at the front of our Church Street entrance.

One thing led to another, and in June we opened our gorgeous new King Street storefront, with the gorgeous Roam/Nest café space.

Opposite to the café, we have shelves, fridges and freezers stocked with delicious pre-packed food items from vendors across the province, including vegan and keto dishes; frozen take-home meals; fresh milk and cheese; sweets and desserts like cheesecake, sugar cookies, gluten-free baked goods; pre-packaged teas, granola and more.

We also have patio sets at our King Street entrance so you can relax and enjoy your purchases outside.

The shopping events

Not to toot our own horn, but Markets is known for its events. Even while shut down during the COVID-19 lockdowns, it was a priority to make our shoppers feel that their money was not only going to a good cause (supporting local!) but also giving them an awesome experience in return.

From freebies and gift bags, to pop-up vendors and exclusive products, the Markets team works hard to make sure the experience customers have when in store is more than just a regular shopping trip, which is why hosting regular shopping events is so important for us.

Some events that take place regularly in-store are our Sips + Snacks weekend pop-ups, featuring both current vendors across our three locations, as well as guest vendors who you can’t find in a retail store.

New events we’re excited to host soon include our Nosh + Slosh 18+ evenings and our charity pop-ups, with a percentage of sales benefiting a different charity each month. Keep an eye on our website and social media to find out when our next events will be taking place!

Markets Ontario storefront and vendor shelves.

Photos courtesy of Shelly Kowalski-Totino.

The atmosphere

The vision for Markets has always been to create a safe space where all kinds of shoppers—from those on parental leave to college students on a three-hour break—could shop, relax, and walk away feeling inspired and connected to their community.

That’s why it was a priority when the downtown Bowmanville location opened to ensure lots of open space remained available for customers to browse at their own pace, instead of filling up the nearly 8,000 square foot store with extra product and shelving. Thankfully, this choice paid off when it came to social distancing during the height of COVID-19 restrictions, and despite the roomy environment, customers can still shop from more than 100+ vendors in store.

With the added café in the front, the two sides of the Bowmanville location feel like night and day, as the café gives visitors cozy Californian beachfront vibes, and the back offers a collaborative and open-air concept with tons of lighting and extra space for those who still feel a bit uneasy when shopping in-person.

We love being a part of the Bowmanville downtown scene and have so many ideas for how we can continue to make your shopping experience unique. To shop online and stay up-to-date on all the amazing things happening at Markets Ontario, follow @MarketsOntario on social media or visit

You can also shop Markets Ontario at our Pickering location in the Pickering Town Centre at 1355 Kingston Road.

Shelly Kowalski-Totino,
Markets Ontario


NOTE: At the time of publishing, Durham Region and the Province of Ontario are in Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen; the Province’s three-step plan to safely and gradually lift public health measures, based on ongoing progress of provincewide vaccination rates and improvements of key public health and health care indicators. Residents are encouraged to follow health guidance when safely exploring their local communities, wash hands frequently, wear a mask and physically distance from others.