We've been following The Arthur blog for awhile now, and when I first saw the post back in April that Liz and her husband Clay were looking for a storefront in West Toronto I couldn't wait to see where they would open up. Owner, Liz Ikiriko, curates a unique collection of beautiful vintage items online so I could only imagine how great the storefront would be. After a five month search, they are settled into their cozy, charming space on College & Euclid. Last weekend I paid a visit to the newly opened shop, and my heart was a flutter as soon as a I walked in. After talking with Liz and browsing through the store, I could tell just how much love and soul was put into The Arthur. "The idea of the shop came to me after my family had to split up my grandparents estate and there were some items that I couldn’t bring back to Toronto from Regina," says Liz, "I started thinking about how it kills me to just junk items that contain little family histories. Continuing these histories by passing them on to new people is such a satisfying thing for me." While she isn't searching for a specific style and era when buying for The Arthur, Liz finds herself drawn to well constructed, quality items that were originally built to last. "I also love type and graphic design, so I tend to look for signs and items that have beautiful type from the turn of the century up until the 1970’s," she explains. My favourite piece is the science class amoeba chart from the 1950s and I also like the retractable maps. They are beyond cool and something you probably wouldn't stumble across often.
One of my fond memories as a child, was visiting garage sales each Saturday with my folks. It could have been the McDonalds breakfast afterwards that lured me in, but I loved the hunt and loved finding a bargain even more. I would always be searching for Archie comics, Nancy Drew books and She-Ra figurines. Which probably explains my nostalgia for these items. So I could certainly relate when Liz told me she's always been a collector. "My Grandmother and I would go out first thing in the morning on Saturdays to hit the garage sales in the neighbourhood," says Liz, "I loved it. The thrill of the hunt and a good deal can’t be surpassed!"
"Starting The Arthur online really helped me begin the process of thinking like an entrepreneur," explains Liz, "I began considering marketing, social media, how to display and arrange items, what sorts of items are interesting to others." In the past year, Jacklyn and I have too noticed how essential having an online presence is. The more time online, the better response you get. But you'll find yourself glued to your Macbook and Blackberry. To this Liz totally agreed, "The hard part was that the only way you make sales online is if you are online all the time!" The days when she blogged, tweeted and facebooked often, the more traffic there was to her site. "That was tough for me," says Liz, "because I’m a social person and I get so much satisfaction from interacting with people in the real world."
I just love the character of the space and the way the collection is displayed. As a fomer Photo Editor at Toronto Life, Liz obviously has an incredible eye for visuals. But she credits the design of the space to her husband Clay and carpenter Dawson Campbell. "I have a pretty fantastic husband that thinks very differently than I do. He really came up with the shelving design and I couldn’t be more happy," explains Liz, "We worked together on getting a sense of warmth and space in the little room that we have." I especially love the giant A in the back of the shop. What an amazing craigslist find.
Vintage pieces add so much character to your home. But thrifting is not necessarily an easy process. It takes patience and a well trained eye to spot the good finds. Which is what makes the collection at The Arthur all the more special. Liz spends Mondays and Tuesdays at flea markets, estate sales, auctions and online searching for the best pieces and adding gems to the collection. Like the vintage 1947 bakelite Viewmaster with 10 reels that just sold. "Sometimes there are items that are hard to part with, but it’s a good feeling when you know it’s going to someone that loves it or will be giving it to someone that will love it." Recently she sold a beautiful Seabreeze portable record player that played 45’s, 78’s and 33’s on it. "It had such beautiful sound!" enthuses Liz, "I’m also very partial to the Spirogyra science poster that we have and I imagine that too will be a hard one to part with." Myself, I have a thing for old typewriters, cameras, globes and anything HBC with stripes. And this amazing bingo set also caught my eye.
There's always something new in store, so if you are in the neighbourhood you should stop in and say hi to Liz and Clay! And you may just walk out with a small treasure of your own. Not in town? No worries. Shop online here.
550 College St.