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Arts & Culture: New downtown shop a haven for local artists

Located in the flatiron building, young entrepreneur Sarah Moreau’s Amberhill Gallery & Gift Shop promotes and sells works by local artisans and hosts classes and discussion groups to encourage creatives

Earlier this year, the Downtown Sudbury Business Improvement Area proudly announced 21 business openings in the city's core since early 2021. One of these new businesses is Amberhill Gallery & Gift Shop.

Amberhill Gallery, named for the street in Aurora, Ont., where its owner, Sarah Moreau, grew up, promotes and sells work by local artists, and hosts classes and discussions to encourage creative energies. 

Like Kyle Marcus, the managing director of Downtown Sudbury BIA and owner of the Alibi Room cocktail bar, Moreau, 27, is a member of a new generation of entrepreneurs who are investing in the health of the city's centre. 

"I think it’s great to be downtown. There is a lot of foot traffic. People are starting to come back downtown. It is great to see people discovering the new businesses," she said.

Browsers will be delighted by the shop's eclectic selection of fun buttons and stickers, whimsical knitwear, handmade jewelry, dried floral arrangements, puzzles, books, cards, ceramics, vintage clothing, and art and craft supplies.

"I carefully select the things we carry, Canadian-made for the most part, and I prioritize things made locally," said Moreau.

The gallery at 149 Durham St. is situated near the Elgin Street strip of shops, restaurants and Place des Arts, and located in the historic Moses Block. The "flatiron" building, built more than a century ago by one of Sudbury's pioneer entrepreneurs, Hascal Moses, was for many years home to a popular bookstore and newsstand.

Love brought Moreau to Sudbury in 2020. The graduate of the Arts and Business Program at the University of Waterloo was working as a graphic designer for RBC in Toronto when the COVID-19 pandemic changed how we all worked and lived.

Moreau was able to work from home, and it didn't matter if she was in Toronto or Sudbury, her boyfriend's hometown.

"We decided to move in together during the pandemic," said Moreau. "I have been in Sudbury for two years."

Life in a "slower lane" provided her an opportunity to realize her dream of opening a gallery and shop in May 2022, something she might never have been able to do in Toronto.

"I always dreamed of opening a little space that showcases local art and provides events such as workshops. This opportunity came up and I took it. I got the keys in April 2022 and opened a month later," she said.

The social media savvy entrepreneur has a website to promote Amberhill Gallery, sell merchandise, and to blog about news, discounts and events. Moreau also emails a newsletter to subscribers.

Moreau makes good use of the triangle-shaped display window to feature work by the "artist of the month."

Fluttering Things by stained-glass artist Susan Loewen is featured in March. 

The window is lighted to be enjoyed at night as well as during the day, said Moreau, who is pleased by the response to her gallery since it opened. 

An interdisciplinary artist herself, Moreau specializes in fibre art. She creates unique crocheted clothing, accessories and decor items which are sold under the brand name Feminist Fibre

Amberhill Gallery & Gift Shop is open Tuesday through Saturday.

Vicki Gilhula is a freelance writer. Arts & Culture is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.