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Design Stores

DeSerres

Posted by Tim / Posted on September 11, 2008

DeSerresDeSerres 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.

DeSerres Toronto

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.

DeSerres Art

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.

DeSerres Art Supplies

DeSerres Art Supply

DeSerres Art Supplies Toronto

DeSerres Spadina

DeSerres Spadina Richmond

DeSerres Downtown

DeSerres Inside

DeSerres Paint

DeSerres Store

DeSerres Store Toronto

DeSerres Toronto Art

DeSerres Toronto Art Supplies

DeSerres Inside

Discussion

22 Comments

poss / May 7, 2009 at 07:05 pm
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I've found only two stores that carry Sennelier oil pastels and DeSerres is much more economical.
mosh / November 8, 2009 at 08:32 pm
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DeSerress selection of supplies are plentiful! High quality products and the store is well organized inside. Customer services are superior to Michael's (the worst arts/craft store ever!) Unfortunately, the student discount club is not too amazing unless you rely here as a primary destination for art supplies (every $100 spent accumulates you get $10 off the next purchase; not to mention %10 off the regular priced supplies). The products here are too overpriced! An architectural draft template found @ DeSerres is $15 more than the same ones found at Aboveground/Woolfitt, even with student discount! Normally these stores sell them ranging from $11 to $16.
Nathan / January 11, 2010 at 01:29 pm
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Terrible service!

I go in there all the time because it is conveniently located across from where my studio located and I really wish it was a Curry's store. The staff at DeSerres have no product knowledge nor do they know what or what is not in their inventory.

All I can say is, if you do go to this store...don't ask the staff foranything. You are better off looking yourself.
Maddy M / January 24, 2010 at 08:23 pm
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Hogwash! I work at DeSerres and I have tons of product knowledge! What do you want to know? The price of a pad of cartridge paper? 5.75! Plus I have access to my co-workers brains to fill in the blanks. As well as our spiffy inventory system, which tells us what we have on-hand. No, we may not be able to tell you the date of when something is coming in, but we can give you a darn close estimate, and we never claimed to be future-tellers.

all i can say is, if you do go to this store... ask the staff for everything. Especially their birthdays and addresses, and then send them presents.
Morris Manolson / April 19, 2010 at 03:29 pm
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Worst customer service in any store in Toronto! I have spent hundreds of dollars in this store as it is around the corner from where I live. I was there on Saturday afternoon, April 17th at exactly 5:50 pm with my three children. I had gathered up about $40.00 of school supplies when my three year announced she had to pee badly (which means seconds count!). I ran to the counter and asked if my child could use the bathroom quickly. The clerk told me "there was no bathroom in the store", which of course is a lie. I ran outside where my child had to pee behind the bushes around the corner. I can back in, went back to the cleck and told her that I would not buy my purchases because of her actions nor would I come back to the store. Instead of apologizing for what might be store policy, she just laughed at me. Clearly, customer service in this store means nothing to the sales representatives. In my 10 years of raising children in this city, and being in this situation countless times, I have never encountered such insensitive behaviour for the sales staff. I strongly recommend that anyone with children not frequent this store until they start treating parents and their children better!
John McTeague replying to a comment from Morris Manolson / April 26, 2010 at 03:27 pm
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Dear Mr. Manolson

I am sorry about this regrettable incident. It is our policy to have bathrooms available to customers and we do constantly bring customers of any age to our restrooms. Please do not let this incident give you a poor impression on our usuall excellent customer service. As per our email sent to you last week, we would like to thank for bringing this information forward. It helps us to manage and counsel our staff to improve their customer service.

Thanks
John McTeague
Manager
DeSerres Eglinton
Say What? replying to a comment from Morris Manolson / May 26, 2010 at 05:25 pm
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Wait...what? this has nothing to do with their customer service but you mentioned "as it is around the corner from where I live" and yet your "child had to pee behind the bushes around the corner"
Avrum / September 18, 2010 at 10:58 pm
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John, I shop at Eglinton all the time and have spent thousands of dollars there. She is right. There have been a number of times when I asked to use the bathroom and your staff said 'no', it's only for staff. That may have changed.

Your prices are high John. they really are and on top of that you are selling cheaper canvasses. Your staff would agree. Just ask.

In short,the selection at your store is mind boggling. It is so exciting to be a Dad of a toddler and come in and find very fun stuff.

I like your staff and feel almost as if I've become friends with some of them. They are knowledgable and excited for me about my art.

But your store is also very expensive (shop around, and you'll see) and you will loose me because of your cheap canvasses (that cost a lot).

do a private tally of your staff and ask them:
a) what they think of the prices and
b) what they think of the canvass quality.

It's good you're proud of your store. You should be but as a customer I don't feel as if you really care about my financial limitations, or my loyalty to the store. It's seems very business.

That aside, thanks for being in the neighborhood for me, and allowing for lots of silliness with my son. I'm happy you guys were there while I became an artist. (but you will loose me. Pricing is everything).
jean / September 20, 2010 at 09:01 pm
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I am an artist living in Vancouver, I have spent thousands of dollars in both locations in Vancouvcer. I went to purchase a large canvas 2 weeks ago , while I was paying for my canvas , the wind outside blew down a artificial tree for sale property of Deserres. It fell on the hood of my Van .
The manager came out to help me bring the tree back inside.
The damage is estimated at over $ 500.00 .
the manager told me today that they are not responsible for the damage and I am left with a bill of $ 300.00 ,my insurance liability to get the repair done.
Now I will have to go to small claims court to get my money back.
thank you so much Deserres for being so good to your repete customers
thank you
jean duguay
Vancouver
Jody A replying to a comment from Morris Manolson / January 1, 2011 at 12:02 am
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Eh Morris, how is your child's bladder the responsibility of the store?

You're the PARENT, take responsibility for your own actions. It's hardly the store's responsibility to supply a public restroom, nor is it the clerk at fault for telling you they don't have a PUBLIC restroom. That isn't a lie.

Don't blame the clerk, or the store for the fact that you're a shitty parent who is too busy to find a toilet IN ADVANCE for their child. Let's be honest here -- you made your child urinate in public like a dog, and now you want to place your guilt on the store clerk. Oh, and if you live "right around the corner", why not a: go home, or b: pee before you leave? Lol how exactly is the store at fault for your bad parenting??

I don't blame the clerk for laughing in your face -- its an art store, not a McDonald's. I can't believe how many people like you come into stores with an utter sense of entitlement and then treat the sales staff like dirt when your demands aren't met. It's disgusting.

Where do you work?
John McTeague replying to a comment from Avrum / January 6, 2011 at 01:41 pm
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HI Avrum

Thanks you for all your comments, both positive and constructive.
For the bathrooms, it is not only DeSerres policy that customers are able to use our bathrooms, there is a bylaw in Toronto the states that retail stores greater than 3000 sq feet, must have them available. In the past we had concerns about customer safety as our bathrooms are in our receiving area. You should have no problem with bathroom breaks now.

Thanks for also bringing up the price perception at DeSerres. Once I read your concerns I went on-line and checked out our prices relative a couple of other major and minor Art stores in Toronto. I randomly checked 11 branded common items ranging form Artist and student paint, different canvases, brushes, watercolour paper, pads, mediums etc. Again thanks for getting me to do that as I did find 2 items that our competitors were more than 5% lower than DeSerres, and I will have that corrected.
Out of the other 9 items,
5 items DeSerres is has better prices by more than 5%
4 items DeSerres the difference was less than 5%-+
I'm sure there are other items on both sides, and would be more than happy to hear about them. I also checked more general arts and crafts retailers and I am happy to say that in general, our prices are far better.

We do consistently check our pricing in the marketplace strive to constantly keep our prices competitive. There may be some fluctuation and I am confident that the fluctuation is usually minor versus a major discrepancy as seen above. If there is any items in particular you have concerns about please let me know.

I am confused about the canvas as there is one major supplier of Canadian made canvas and we all primarily use them for the majority of our higher quality canvas. We all carry economic qualities of canvas as there is a customer demand for them. As you requested I did ask my staff about the quality of our canvases, they recognize that the higher quality canvases we carry are machine made in Canada, and that when it comes to "artist quality" in canvas it does depend on the artist. After this level, the requirements for each artist differs depending on their needs and personal preferences and it is usually recommended that the canvas should be hand made to the individuals specifics.

I hope I have responded to your concerns and feel free to contact me directly the next time you're in the store.

Thanks
John
John McTeague replying to a comment from Avrum / January 6, 2011 at 01:45 pm
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HI Avrum

Thanks you for all your comments, both positive and constructive.
For the bathrooms, it is not only DeSerres policy that customers are able to use our bathrooms, there is a bylaw in Toronto the states that retail stores greater than 3000 sq feet, must have them available. In the past we had concerns about customer safety as our bathrooms are in our receiving area. You should have no problem with bathroom breaks now.

Thanks for also bringing up the price perception at DeSerres. Once I read your concerns I went on-line and checked out our prices relative a couple of other major and minor Art stores in Toronto. I randomly checked 11 branded common items ranging form Artist and student paint, different canvases, brushes, watercolour paper, pads, mediums etc. Again thanks for getting me to do that as I did find 2 items that our competitors were more than 5% lower than DeSerres, and I will have that corrected.
Out of the other 9 items,
5 items DeSerres is has better prices by more than 5%
4 items DeSerres the difference was less than 5%-+
I'm sure there are other items on both sides, and would be more than happy to hear about them. I also checked more general arts and crafts retailers and I am happy to say that in general, our prices are far better.

We do consistently check our pricing in the marketplace strive to constantly keep our prices competitive. There may be some fluctuation and I am confident that the fluctuation is usually minor versus a major discrepancy as seen above. If there is any items in particular you have concerns about please let me know.

I am confused about the canvas as there is one major supplier of Canadian made canvas and we all primarily use them for the majority of our higher quality canvas. We all carry economic qualities of canvas as there is a customer demand for them. As you requested I did ask my staff about the quality of our canvases, they recognize that the higher quality canvases we carry are machine made in Canada, and that when it comes to "artist quality" in canvas it does depend on the artist. After this level, the requirements for each artist differs depending on their needs and personal preferences and it is usually recommended that the canvas should be hand made to the individuals specifics.

I hope I have responded to your concerns and feel free to contact me directly the next time you're in the store.

Thanks
John

Denise M / March 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm
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I go to the Danforth DeSerres a few times a year. The selection is great (at least to me) and I have always found the staff to be friendly and helpful. Yesterday, I was in buying standard size frames, and the employee in the framing section spent a long time with me explaining what I needed to do. Another staff member spent a long time with my daughter and her friend who were picking out stickers!

While I won't discount others experiences, I have always found DeSerres to have above average customer service. Probably because their employees seem to actually have an interest in what they are doing.
Heidi Norhton / May 12, 2011 at 02:56 am
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I thouroughly enjoy working at the DeSerres in Edmonton, Alberta. The staff is friendly, helpful,enthustiastic and funny. We enjoy new faces and customers of ALL ages! Come visit us soon! The ONLY DeSerres in Alberta!
Sandra A / July 21, 2011 at 04:46 pm
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I love this store!! I could spend hours if I didn't have small children. Been to the one in Edmonton. However it is a shame that they haven't expanded to Calgary or offer a homeschoolers discount. Eitherway I think it is a great store and it would be great to see it grow to more communities.
Priyanka / October 22, 2011 at 04:26 am
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Been to the Woodbine location yesterday (first visit ever).

Positive:
Within walking distance to home (or 2 subway stops)

They have 4-day sales every week, Thurs-Sunday

Found some basic camel-hair watercolour brushes for 60 CENTS each

Also a couple of other brushes for less than 4 bucks

Got a plastic paint palett for $1.15, canvas board for $3.00, 4 different sized canvases $.80 - just over $2.00

A pretty decent arts & crafts section with a nice DIY jewelry and soap making supplies (gave me idea to try in the future)

Got a free reward card that came with $5.00 worth of credits

That's the good part. Now the bad:

Not a big selection of brushes (compared to Currys near College St).

I was looking for some loose watercolour paper, found none

Staff were too busy chatting, no one on the floor to look after customers

Store seemed a bit unorganized

Was looking for a Derwent pencil set, didn't find it

Not a huge selection of things, many familiar brands missing

Will I return? They seem to have the same prices as Currys and similar sales on similar items. But less selections. Though very convenient location-wise, I'd stick with Currys unless there's a reason I can't make it to downtown.


Anonymous / November 16, 2011 at 08:39 pm
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I visited the framing department at the Woodbine location last week and was totally amazed at the help I received from the two ladies working there.
Both girls seem to be quite passionate about what they do and it showed tremendously in how they approached my needs and concerns regarding the care of my art. Couple that with a surprise custom framing sale and the fact that they managed to get my order finished in two days... Well, I'm a happy customer.
I've had work done at other frame shops and I've been pleased, but after visiting this location, I'll never go anywhere else. My dad's art looks like something that should be hanging in a gallery!

My advice to anyone that wants custom frame work done: Make sure you listen to what these ladies have to say. I did, and I'm thrilled!
Antea Buel / December 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm
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I wish to buy more of a size of canevas i find only at Deserres, which means it is an odd size. But of great elegance. I wish to have the Barcelona make it with linen. Is it possible? and if the thickness is a bit increased but not doubled, would it change the cost enormously?
I will go to the Eglinton stores after Xmas and also jan 5, is there a chance i can talk about my need to someone or to you?

merci
John McTeague replying to a comment from Antea Buel / January 4, 2013 at 10:07 am
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Hi Antea
Yes we are able to order custom canvas (Linen) from one of our suppliers, although it would not be Barcelona brand. It is best to either call or come in so we can best determine your needs.

Thanks
John
Frankly Q. / October 2, 2013 at 10:30 am
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The Danforth store is big and bright, but the company in general seems to have shifted its focus even further toward toys and craft supplies, and so doesn't remain a competitive player in the local art supplies market. Good pricing on most items now, but a lack of selection for drawing media and paint and brushes are generally much cheaper at Aboveground.
The staff is helpful and the framing department is super friendly.
Alyssa replying to a comment from Jody A / January 16, 2014 at 10:28 am
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Looks like "Jody" might have been the one who refused you and then laughed about it...

And if any parent who has been caught with "seconds to go" bathroom needs, I guess that means, by Jody's definition, that 99.99% of parents are shitty parents. I'm pretty sure I pulled this on my mom a few times skiing.

Jody, there are oodles of art stores in Toronto. What separates a store and makes it stand out are the staff and how you treat customers. Clue in.

-A
Antea Buel / April 4, 2014 at 09:44 am
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I visited the great new store on Dufferin, almost across Yorkdale Center. It is truly gorgeous. But... I have lots of comments about how boringly the display islands are put. Such an exciting space should not make you wish to leave after 5 minutes. I am an artist, I live near by, DeSerres on Eglinton has provided me for many years. I was thrilled about the new store and its location. But it is empty. and it may remain empty if they don't put life into it. I know what all artists wish to find in a store that size. I will tell you if you want. Their store.. is as important as their studio or home.

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