Thrifting in Whitby: Penney & Company

Take a guided tour of local thrift shops from treasure hunter and gatherer Alessia Churcher.

We were sad to see that Elaine’s, which we profiled last month in this column, has closed its doors. We miss our favourite shops like we miss good friends. But so life goes. While nothing will ever replace Elaine’s, we were delighted to visit a Whitby home decor shop that celebrated its grand opening with a fresh mix of old and new. We count on being regulars.
Penney & Company: 124 Brock Street S. Whitby.

There’s no better feeling than walking into a new retail space and instantly feeling special. I love a store that charms you, and makes you want to spend the rest of your day browsing around because it’s cozy and friendly, and inviting.  Michael Penney’s new shop is exactly that. Penney & Company is located in Whitby’s quaint downtown in what used to be an old pool hall, and is definitely a must-see.

Many will know Penney from his work as style editor at House and Home Magazine (which also featured the makeover of his gorgeous Oshawa home), his appearances on the Marilyn Dennis Show and his recent work with Sarah Richardson. If you follow Penney’s work, you will appreciate that the shop is full of his personal touch: beautifully painted salvaged furnishings, vibrant prints and classic home accents all come together in simple and smart arrangements. The items are accessible to almost anyone shopping for a great piece to add in their own home.

The merchandise is a mixture of hand-picked new items and great flea market and estate sale finds. “The point of the store is to have a little bit for everybody,” says Penney, and it’s true. Beautiful wooden tables, chests of drawers and the reupholstered Ikat sofa are worth saving your pennies for. While the collection of milk glass perched in the store’s original display case provides an affordable treasure for almost anyone. A box of beautiful long matches is $3, and note cards, piles of tea towels, throw cushions and potted plants are well within reach. “You don’t have to come in and invest every time,” says Penney. This mix not only makes this shop stand out, it is also a lesson in smart decorating.

The building itself had been vacant for decades and a space that Penney had long admired. “I would always peek in the corner and wonder What is in there? It never said For Rent,” says Penney. He eventually tracked down the owner of the building and came for a tour of the space. “It was so dark and dilapidated,” says Penny. “But I charmed him into letting me rent here.” (See pictures of the renovation process on Penney’s blog.) With a little TLC, Penney has breathed new life into the space, and has made great efforts to keep so many of the wonderful original features like the wood floors and great glass display case.

There is no other shop like this currently in our area, and Penney appreciates that there is a need for smart and sophisticated shopping in our towns. Being a resident of Oshawa himself, and having grown up in Whitby, he knows the area and what it has to offer. Penney & Company is a perfect example of the potential that lies within so many of our city’s abandoned storefronts. A little innovation, creativity and talent can go a long way–and are essential to revitalizing our community.

Be sure to stop in to Penny & Company, which has new items coming in all the time, and pick up a unique treasure for yourself, the experience will brighten your day!