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Design Stores

Above Ground Art Supplies (Junction)

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on January 30, 2012

Above Ground Art Supplies JunctionAbove Ground Art Supplies in the Junction is the second location of of the original art supply store on McCaul Street near OCAD. While the first Above Ground planted its roots in 1998, this new shop opened just over a week ago, which was just a few weeks after ARTiculations opened down the road.

Above Ground Art Supplies JunctionIt turns out both stores have the same idea — to bring quality art supplies to an area that was obviously lacking — and didn't know of each other's intentions until plans were firmly underway. I ask Jenn King, who handles marketing and graphic design at Above Ground, about the apparent coincidence. "It seems to happen all the time in Toronto; someone will open up a vintage store, and another one pops up a few days later down the street. Same with cafes, and here, it happened again."

Above Ground Art Supplies Junction"We both had the same sort of feeling about the west end," King continues, noting there was a real drought in the Junction in terms of art supplies. "But our focuses are very different. They're really into their workshops and gallery space, which is great, whereas we're straight art supply. And they have really curated their collection to their specific tastes, where we're more trying to cover all aspects of what someone could be doing."

Above Ground Art Supplies JunctionThis Above Ground is clearly smaller than the original, with just one retail floor as compared to the three (including the basement) at McCaul. I notice, however, that the shop seems packed just as tightly, with little room for two people to squeeze past each other in the aisles.

Above Ground Art Supplies JunctionAs for the brands, they're pretty much the same — Liquitex, Kama, Speedball, and so forth — at the same prices you'll find at the original shop. However, since there is less space at this location, fewer items can be kept on site, though the staff at the Junction tell me that customers can request items be shipped over (usually takes about a day or so) free of charge. There are also fewer gift and after school-craft-type items here, saving space for professional level art supplies.

Above Ground Art Supplies JunctionKing tells me the decision to open a second location in the west end had been brewing for some time, though the team was keen on finding the perfect location. "A lot of us live in the west end," she says, "and it really is difficult to find art supplies. This space just worked; the Junction neighbourhood is just such a great place to be and such a creative community. When we saw this space, we jumped at the chance."

Above Ground Art Supplies JunctionAbove Ground Art Supplies JunctionAbove Ground Art Supplies JunctionAbove Ground Art Supplies Junction



John / January 30, 2012 at 01:54 pm
Good selection of art supplies, but I did get mildly claustrophobic with the tiny ailles.
John Lasruk / January 30, 2012 at 01:58 pm
The store IS relatively small, but when I wanted a couple of tubes of Rembrandt oil paint, which this store doesn't carry, they were sent over from McCaul in just a couple of hours. While I don't suppose we can always expect that level of service, it should be possible to fetch anything you cansee from the catalogue in fairly short order, say, 24 hours.

Notwithstanding the above, there is still plenty to be had at the Junction location. Winsor & Newton paint, Arches paper, etc.
Maria Van Zoomeren / March 2, 2014 at 08:46 am
This is a lovely little store, full of wonderful materials, and friendly staff. I have gone a few times and have always felt taken care of, plus they answer my questions as well. So I am very glad the store is there for sure.

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