As published on December 5, 2014.
If ever there was a business that has defined the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood, without question it’s the Art Shoppe. The high-end home furnishings store – a fixture in the area since as far back as the Great Depression – is about as iconic as they come. Many a passerby has been dazzled by the dramatic window displays that lined the shop’s massive Yonge street storefront. Back in the day, it wasn’t even uncommon to see tour buses stopping by to give visitors a chance to check out the displays.
Opened by Leon Offman in 1936, the Yonge Street store catered to the well-to-do set with art deco and modernist designs inspired by heavyweights such as Mies van der Rohe and the Bauhaus school. Over three spacious floors, tastefully arranged gallery-like vignettes allowed customers to kick back, relax and imagine the feeling of living with the luxe furnishings in their own homes.
Eventually, the Art Shoppe also expanded its scope of services to include designing and furnishing offices, hotels, and clubs for an international clientele, in locales as far away as Bermuda, London and Tokyo. And by the mid-1970s, the store had physically expanded its space to occupy the entire Yonge Street frontage between Soudan and Hillsdale avenues, adding a three-storey atrium to the south end of the lot.
You don’t thrive as a business for as long as the Art Shoppe has without continually evolving. As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. And even timeless businesses are always keeping one eye to the future. Today the family-run Art Shoppe is helmed by a third generation, and the store has recently relocated to join the design studios and home furnishings shops of the Castlefield Design District.
While the store has moved from Yonge and Eglinton, its spirit lives on in the new Art Shoppe Lofts + Condos, which promises to be a new design icon for the neighbourhood. Stay tuned to learn more about the Art of Change that’s coming to Yonge and Eglinton and positively transforming the neighbourhood for the future.
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