By David F. Rooney
It’s not quite news — he has been advertising it for months — but by next Saturday Lorne Zarazun’s Ambience Gallery will be no more.
“You can’t help but think back to what it was like when you first start a business,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. “It was 1989 and it was probably a tough time to start. There was a recession in the early ’90s and the CP tunnel project had ended. I was looking for a small business opportunity.”
After casting about looking at different possibilities, a friend suggested he talk to Ken Bjorge whose wife, Katie, had died the previous year. Katie was a then-well-known local painter and the couple owned a small gallery that Ken was hoping to sell.
It wasn’t quite what Lorne had in mind but he decided to give it a go. Ken suggested he take a course at the Canadian Picture Framing School on the Lower Mainland to learn a little more about art and framing.
“My background was in drafting so it’s not as though I didn’t know about colour and design,” he said. “I enjoyed it so much I called Ken and said, ‘We’ll talk.'”
Over the years Lorne has offered local art, high-quality prints — especially Max Jacquard’s beautiful railroad prints — and giftware produced in western Canadian through the Ambience Gallery. For about 18 years it was located at 122 Mackenzie Avenue but steep rent increases forced him to move to his present location at 418 Second Street West.
Now, having reached age 65, Lorne is retiring as of May 21. His retail stock of prints and giftware are on sale for between 40 and 60 per cent off and he’ll be selling as much of it as he can at Saturday’s Super Sidewalk Sale. What he doesn’t sell off over the next nine days he’ll sell through his website from home.
It’s the framing end of the business that he’d like to see continued. It has been the mainstay of the gallery and it could be nice little money-maker for the right person — someone with good taste and a sense of colour and design.
“I’d love to have someone take it over,” he said. “There are quite a few tools (saws, matting tables and other pieces of equipment) and I’d very willing to share my knowledge. It’s an interesting business — you’re dealing with a product that can bring joy and happiness to your customers. The people I’ve dealt with always been positive and they value high quality-framing because it enhances art work and photography and it helps preserve them for the next generation.”
Anyone interested in speaking with Lorne can find him at 418 Second Street West. You can also call him at 250-837-3442 or send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.