The origin of the store dates back to the mid-seventies when it was first opened as Barnes Art Supply on 10th Street in Kensington . The building has been around since 1911 and prior to the art supply store, it housed a dry cleaning business (Laval Dry Cleaners). The original owner was Ruth A.Barnes who purchased the building site unseen.
Many years later, the store was sold to another family by the name of Barnes (no relation). Frances Barnes and her husband, Jim, owned the store for over a decade and became very well known in the area . They didn’t change much, except for eliminating some old stock, removing the back office and putting in a new bathroom. Roof repairs were always on the agenda. They also added a custom canvas shop in the back as many artists were looking for special canvas sizes. In total, the store had about 600 sq.ft. of retail space.
Frances sold the store to Ed Katrusik around 1999 and that was when I met Ed at a watercolour workshop hosted by Donna Jo Massie at Mount Engadine Lodge . Ed was looking for a new name for the store since it was no longer owned by a Barnes. With the help of some wine, many suggestions were made for a new name (including Fast Eddy’s Art Supplies). While the nickname stuck, the store was renamed “Kensington Art Supply” and new signs were hand-painted for the front and the back. My sister and I were frequent customers as we enjoyed the ambiance of the store.
In August of 2003, Ed called me and asked if I was interested in buying the store. I hadn’t thought of owning an art supply store, but I had worked in retail before and very much enjoyed it. At the time, I owned my own consulting company.
My husband, John, and I decided to have a look at this possible venture – at least do our due-diligence. I told him about the art store and what a great little space it was in a great location. The problem was that they didn’t have everything that you usually had on your supply list (meaning that there was a lot of potential here). We met with Ed on a Sunday morning before the store opened and he gave us the grand tour. I was smitten, to say the least and negotiations began shortly thereafter.
On November 17, 2003 we unlocked the door to the store on our first day as the new owners of Kensington Art Supply. We kept all of the previous staff members on board with us and we quickly worked to renovate the store to give us more retail space. The washroom and hot water tank were moved and a new office space was created in the back hallway. A new tiled floor was laid in the front of the store. This now gave us almost 900 sq.ft. of retail space. More products were brought in to create a one-stop shop for students and artists.
In the fall of 2010, the space next door to our original store became vacant. We quickly contacted the owner and asked to have a look at the space. This was a beautifully renovated 2,550 sq.ft of space with new hardwood floors and huge new floor to ceiling windows out front and a basement (which we did not have in original location). The lease was signed and we were set to move at the end of the year . Nancy-lynne Hughes agreed to take over our old lease and open an art instruction studio. With good planning, the store was only closed for three days as we moved to our new location and we opened on January 2, 2011. We enjoyed three great years in this location and continued to grow the business, bringing in an even better selection of fine art supplies.
Rising rents and construction forced us to move in February of 2014 to a new a bigger location in the SE part of Calgary just north of the Deerfoot Meadows shopping area. We are now Kensington Art Supply & Instruction and have 7,000 sq.ft. of space with 5,000 sq. ft dedicated to retail space and 2,000 sq.ft. of classroom space for 2 studios. Nancy-lynne Hughes made the move with us and she is now our Studio Director. Parking is no longer a problem as we have over 250 free parking stalls right in front of the store.
From our humble beginnings, we are now the largest independently-owned art supply store in Calgary. Our philosophy has always been to provide great customer service. It’s not hard, just treat customers the way you would want to be treated. We now have a great selection of quality fine art supplies, fun and creative workshops and classes, lots of free customer parking with the same great customer service!