Aboveground Art Supplies
Aboveground Art Supplies just might be the largest art supply store in Toronto. Located steps from OCAD, the store is stocked full of paint, brushes, canvases, paper and other art supplies over two floors in a building that dates back to 1887.
Aside from its prime location (well, if you're an OCAD student), Aboveground wins points for its great selection and decent prices - made even cheaper with a student ID. While it may sell many of the same paper, canvas and other supplies that can be found elsewhere, where it really shines is with the other random harder-to-find-stuff like, say, Artograph projectors and tracers. It also has, in my humble opinion, the widest selection of paints and paint brushes in the city.
Carla Watterworth, the store's Advertising and Education Manager, recently filled me in on some other need-to-know details.
When was the store founded? What has changed about the store over the years?
Aboveground opened in 1983 in a 300 sq.ft. space in the Village By The Grange. We moved to our current location at 74 McCaul Street 10 years ago. With that move, we gained more than 8000 sq.ft. of space to fill with art supplies!
What would you say is different or unique about Aboveground compared to some of the other art supply stores in Toronto?
We have an incredible range of products, we have amazing staff with an exceptional knowledge of art & art materials, and our prices are awesome!
What are some of the most popular products you sell?
Some of our most popular products include paints, drawing supplies, canvas, paper & brushes. We also have customers who come in looking for unique items, gifts or just something to get them inspired!
How do you feel Aboveground competes on price compared to most other art supply stores?
We are very competitive and offer our customers the best price we can! We also offer a full range of products from student to artist quality so the customer is sure to find the most affordable option.
Are there any items you carry that are unique to Aboveground?
We have a very unique Sculpture section with tons of supplies to choose from. Our paper & sketchpad section is also large and includes some very beautiful products. We also have our own housebrand line of brushes and sketchpads which are excellent quality and extremely popular!
How did the store come to be located next to OCAD. Would you say the overwhelming majority of your customers are OCAD students?
We've always been located in the neighborhood and have had a focus on supplying the OCAD students with what they need. The original location was quickly becoming too small and luckily the house at 74 McCaul Street was available. We did a complete restoration from top to bottom and made this the new home of Aboveground Art Supplies.
You might win the award for the most colourful exterior of any art supply store in the city? How did that paint job come about?
When OCAD finished their major expansion, we were approached by the Dean of Design and some other OCAD representatives to see if we would be willing to come up with a plan to change the colours of the store to blend in with the new look of the school.