DeSerres is a new name on the Toronto art supply store scene even though the company has been around since 1908. In its former incarnation, it was known as Loomis & Toles but last year, as part of the company's 100th anniversary, they re-branded in an effort to unify the name through their entire chain of stores, four of which are in Toronto and a large number in the Montreal area and Quebec.
Having once lived and worked around the corner from their location near Spadina and Richmond, I'd say it definitely has a reputation for having a great selection of not only art supplies, but things like interesting paper, massive pieces of foam core, framing and other crafty supplies. But price-wise, despite their claim (see below) to be perhaps the most competitively priced option in the city, I sometimes got a bit of a sticker shock, especially when comparing things like paint, brushes and canvases to stores like Gwartzman's and Tern.
Store Manager Glendon Mellow was kind enough to let me snap photos of both floors of the extensive and well stocked Spadina location, as well as answers some of my questions about DeSerres below.
What would you say is different or unique about DeSerres compared to some of the other art supply stores in Toronto?
We veer off from traditional art supplies to other creative genres. We have a robust selection for the fine artist and as well we have products that are not intimidating to the average person who wants to try something creative. We scour the world for new products and ideas every year.
What are some of the most popular products you sell?
Fine art materials, absolutely! Paint, brushes and canvas are the staples. We have an unsurpassed selection of canvas and surfaces in the city. Being in the fashion district, our portfolios fly off the shelves and we constantly bring in new styles.
We're proud of our unique assortment of fine paper, brought in from several different countries from across the world. As an example of a very different product, we've just brought in over 200 styles of decorative wall stickers that have proven popular amongst home designers, both the professional and the amateur.
How do you feel DeSerres competes on price compared to most other art supply stores?
We are very competitive compared to all art supply stores in the city. As a matter of fact, it would surprise me if you could find items cheaper anywhere else.
For students, we offer an unparalleled discount program which incorporates not only a 10% discount off regularly priced merchandise, but also with our free Campus Club loyalty card, students receive $10 off after they spend $100.
Are there any items you carry that are unique to DeSerres?
We are the only art supply store in Toronto that offers professional custom framing.
We have a growing selection of our own house-brand DeSerres products, ranging from artist-quality paints, to frames, to eco-friendly paper. We stand behind the quality of our brand which is why it bears our name.
And our staff are unique as well! Their customer service excels because they are all artists and creative people too!
How did the store come to be located where it is?
Our Proximity to major art schools like Toronto School of Art, George Brown, Max the Mutt and OCAD as well as the fashion, advertising and design companies in the neighborhood makes for a perfect location with good energy and good conversations in the store.
How is this location of DeSerres different from the other locations in Toronto?
For the most part our selection is consistent throughout our stores, with some slight variations to reflect the neighbourhoods we inhabit.