Unreal – that was my first thought when I visited Art Expressions on Drouillard Road. The story of Art Expressions, an art store in Ford City, is one of taking risks, pursuing passions, and shining a light on a low reputation neighbourhood.
The owners of the successful business, Terry and Laurie Argent, initially bought the house-turned-store 15 years ago “as a kind of investment,” unsure of what was to become of it. Driven by their artistic passion, the married team started selling art and after receiving a positive response, they slowly expanded themselves.
“People always say you have to have a plan and know exactly what you’re doing. Play it safe,” said Terry Argent. “But sometimes you just have to take a risk and hope for the best. That’s what we did and we’re still here.”
The store is famous for its distinct art. The colourful rooms held unique items including handmade bamboo lamps, paintings with metallic elements, and an art piece composed of a tree trunk from Indonesia. Even the bathroom was decked out in art.
The Argents kept their business in Ford City because of the positive response from people. Its expressionistic modern taste brings clients and even their families when they visit town.
“It’s nice to know that the community appreciates something done a little differently,” said Terry. “We’re a little more original and maybe homegrown.”
It’s not hard to believe that the store has become a huge success due to loyal customers and word-of-mouth advertising. “The best form of advertising is word-of-mouth,” said Terry. “It’s the good people of Windsor and the area that have kept us her.”
Virginianne, a faithful shopper, buys her Christmas presents from Art Expressions each year. “Last year, I bought all my friends decoration geckos. It feels good to just buy all your presents at once from one good store, and on top of that, I’m supporting a local business,” said Virginianne.
In 2001, when Art Expressions was still in its infancy, it won the Biz X “Oscar” award for the Preferred Place to Find Artwork.
Ford City, now a thriving arts community, wasn’t always this way.
“We’re kind of the [art] pioneers in this area,” said Terry. “This is Ford City and long before they had the sculptures, we actually were selling art on the street here. So it’s good to see them actually bring these sculptures and murals into this area.”
Art Expressions puts a rest to Ford City’s negative stereotypes about failed businesses and a troubled area. “The area itself has been very good to us. Not only good customers, but also I haven’t really had any issues,” said Terry.
“People think it’s a hard rough area, but we never seem to have any problems,” he said. “It’s nice to be in an area where maybe you can help or change the area and the attitude that’s stagnant here.”
Art Expressions is located at 1519 Drouillard. Be sure to check out their website: artexpressdecor.ca
Published on WindsoriteDOTca on Friday, March 15, 2013