Three artsy stores to browse online

Feed your inner artist by paying a (virtual) visit to these art supply stores

Illustration: Alex Vanderput / The Peak

By: Lubaba Mahmud, Peak Associate

Editor’s note: This piece was written prior to all of the COVID-19 related changes but the stores below are still open for online orders and curbside pickup. We’ve done our best to update the piece but please double-check all details with the individual stores when you virtually visit them.

  1. Urban Source

Urban Source is a charming little store located at 3126 Main Street in Vancouver. 

They’re currently open from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays to fulfill your online and curbside pickup orders.

The store sells alternative art materials such as ceramic tiles, fabric pieces, gift bags, wooden shapes, wallpaper, gift boxes, and an assortment of paper-crafting goodies. I was especially intrigued by their assortment of vintage photos, postcards, and mailing envelopes. They also have a nice little collection of scrapbooking supplies like stamps, washi-tape, pens, and paint. 

This wonderfully sustainable store collects over-stocked materials from over a hundred different local industries. You will have no problem finding very reasonably priced items for creative projects here. For example, I found some beautiful floral stamps, a set of paper doilies, and a small cotton drawstring bag that will be perfect for gifting jewelry. 

Prior to the move to online, they had a fun bulk-bag policy where you could fill a paper bag with items like stickers, plexi letters, fabric pieces, mesh, and photos — hopefully something they’ll resume once the physical store reopens. Bag prices ranged from about $8 to $22 plus tax. I saw a lot of children eagerly browsing through the barrels to find unique trinkets. The staff were very friendly and I was really happy to watch them encourage the kids in the shop to make art.

Urban Source is more than your average art store and browsing in-person was honestly a wholesome experience and a nice way to say hello to the inner child in you! It’s definitely a store worth supporting now so that we can look forward to having these wholesome experiences once again in the future.

2. Opus Art Supplies

Opus has eight stores around British Columbia, and their Harbour Centre location is great for SFU students especially. Unfortunately, this location is currently closed, but their other branches are open for online and curbside pickup orders.

They sell a good variety of paints, including watercolours, gouache, acrylic, oils, and dry pigments. You can also shop for ready-made or custom frames. Overall, they seem to be more catered towards painting supplies than novelty hobbies like paper-crafting. Opus stocks high-quality materials, so expect the merchandise to be a little on the pricier side.

Their website has a Community page where you can connect with the local art community especially nice for the current circumstance. Here you can find places that are looking for art submissions, studio listings, and artsy workshops open to all.

Once the Harbour Centre location reopens, you can pop in to soothe your soul after classes if you get excited over art supplies like me. The welcoming staff will be glad to have you over. They’re very knowledgeable about the merchandise so I found them to be pretty helpful. 

3. Michaels

Michaels is one of the biggest retailers of art supplies and it’s widely known for its huge collection. There are many Michaels stores in British Columbia, including in Burnaby, North Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Surrey, Richmond etc. All locations are still open for in-person shopping, with reduced hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. They’re also offering online and curbside pickup options.

Their categories include: scrapbooking materials, beads & jewelry, baking supplies, frames, knitting & crochet, home decor, and teaching supplies to name a few. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with choices here — I know I surely did when I began bullet-journaling this year and went to Michaels to shop for supplies.

If you’re just beginning to delve into art and don’t want to splurge on expensive supplies, I’d suggest looking into the Artist’s Loft brand that they stock. I got $5 gouache paints with a coupon, and it’s not half bad for a beginner.

Let’s face it, hobbies can be expensive, especially when we’re all on student budgets. I’d highly recommend using the coupon codes that they list on their website, which, in my experience, ranges from 30% to 50% off on regular-priced items.