1936 was an important year in world history, Europe was building up to a tumultuous period and North Americans were still recovering from the paralysing Great Depression. So the thought of opening a luxury furniture emporium in downtown Toronto was at first glance an untimely choice. But Leon Offman, an immigrant from Poland and founder of The Art Shoppe, saw an opportunity and seized it. The Art Shoppe opened in 1936 on Yonge Street and it soon became an iconic building in the city, it even was a stop on the city bus tour so tourists could appreciate the famous window displays.
The location on Yonge Street became more than a furniture store over the years, its window displays were works of art, carefully planned and designed to showcase the curated items inside, but also to spark conversation and artistic inspiration. “The windows became a symbol of interior design in Toronto.” Carolyn Offman, the third generation owner of the relocated Art Shoppe stated. “The store was renowned for its gallery like window displays and people would stop and stare at the displays as if they were studying a work of art.” she continued.
Now The Art Shoppe has moved from its downtown location and has joined the new interior design hub in Castlefield Design District. The Art Shoppe’s new home is a prodigious 70,000 sq. ft. and is home to an array of furnishings that can fulfil the needs of a wide variety of consumers.
The expansive location is awe-inspiring when entering, the slick entranceway immediately signifies the sense of class and sophistication that the store stands for. The hallway delineates the long history of the store with beautiful black and white photos of the original store and its place in Toronto history. This set alongside the marbled floors makes for a wondrous entrance.
The store’s layout doesn’t disappoint, whether you turn left or right, you are faced with a wide variety of choices. From Italian Neoclassical to contemporary minimalism, The Art Shoppe has something for everyone. As well as a range of styles on offer, the prices also vary and allow for most budgets. “People don’t often realize that we have $2,000 sofas available, they are often pleasantly surprised when they see the price tag as we do have a lot of reasonably priced items in the store.” Offman explained.
There are some stand out designers that are also available at The Art Shoppe. One of the more prominent vignettes was the new display of Kate Spade furniture. The beautiful arrangement of furnishings was enticing and offered the perfect place to stop and rest in awe.
After walking the store and appreciating the endless supply of furnishings, refreshments are needed, and luckily enough the building houses its own Café. The decor of the Café again harks back to its rich history and displays the collection of silent film posters and art deco advertisements that lined the walls in its previous location.
It’s clear that the new location of The Art Shoppe understands both its future and its past. The interiors simultaneously reflect a prosperous future and a reminiscent past. The new space truly makes for a breathtaking experience and a convivial shopping experience. Here’s to 80 more years of The Art Shoppe.