Montreal's Mile End bids farewell to beloved art gallery and curiosity shop

·2 min read
Montreal's Mile End bids farewell to beloved art gallery and curiosity shop
Monastiraki opened on St-Laurent Boulevard in 1998. Owner Billy Mavreas says he may open a small studio one day to continue his passion for painting. (Charles Contant/CBC - image credit)
Monastiraki opened on St-Laurent Boulevard in 1998. Owner Billy Mavreas says he may open a small studio one day to continue his passion for painting. (Charles Contant/CBC - image credit)

After 23 years of selling local art, fine prints and vintage treasures, Monastiraki's owner is shutting down his curiosity shop and art gallery on St-Laurent Boulevard in Montreal's Mile End neighbourhood.

Monastiraki is known for hosting exhibits and family activities, but owner Billy Mavreas says it's time to move on. His family opened the business in 1998 and he took over a few years later.

"It's enough for me. I love the perks. I love meeting people, talking to people, selling things and connecting with people. I need a break now," he said.

Besides saying goodbye to his loyal customers, Mavreas said he will have a tough time parting with all the odd collectibles he's accumulated over the years.

Attachment is a problem, he said, but as he clears out the shop, "I'm starting to look at things and go: 'It's OK. I can let it go now.'"

Charles Contant/CBC
Charles Contant/CBC

After taking some time off, Mavreas said he may open a small studio just to get out of the house and continue his passion for painting.

However, Monastiraki will be missed by loyal customers like Isabel Fuentes who has been a client for more than three years.

She said she could spend hours looking at all the items, and over that time has developed a friendship with Mavreas that she expects will last even after the shop's closure.

Charles Contant/CBC
Charles Contant/CBC

"I'm sad because it's a great place," said Fuentes. "It's always a good time to come here, but I'm also happy for him. It seems to be the right thing for what he wants to do in his life."

Fuentes, though, will miss being able to find the most unexpected things at the shop, like a second-hand wooden spoon.

"I came here and he had a collection with little basketball imprints on it. I was like there you go, that's the one I'm going to buy," she said.

As Mavreas gets set for his last weekend as owner of the shop, he's already dreaming about opening something similar one day.

"I still fantasize about [being] down in an alleyway, a garage and a hidden jewel," he said.

"And that might happen."

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