A local entrepreneur is hoping the third time is a charm after opening a new store in downtown Stratford.
Owner and operator Jason Kuepfer, a Listowel-area resident, opened Artisan Interiors at 94 Ontario St. just over three weeks ago.
He has plenty of experience in the business to rely on. Over 15 years ago, he started his own furniture finishing business and eventually opened a retail showroom in Fergus. Seeing a gap in the local market, he was drawn to the city.
"I really felt Stratford was in need of a good quality furniture store," said Kuepfer, in an interview at the store.
Equally appealing was the location. The former home of the Christmas Lodge, Kuepfer has transformed the space into a 4,200 square-foot, two-level, fine-furniture showroom.
"We handpick our craftsmen. All of our furniture is handcrafted, nothing is mass produced," he said, adding all of his stock is made in southwestern Ontario. "All of it comes from small artisan-type shops."
Kuepfer said he keeps his prices competitive with larger chain furniture stores and warns customers there's more to leather furniture than meets the eye.
"It's the parts you don't see in a sofa that are your foundation," said Kuepfer, who carries all leather furniture, with no vinyl or split grains. "You can build a beautiful house on a bad foundation and the house isn't going to last."
The store offers mission and shaker-style furniture, along with other interior home accents, including framed prints, flowers, lamps, lighting and photographs.
Along with Kuepfer, the store is the home base of architectural designer Jackie DiParlo. DiParlo, with a keen eye for design, is available for interior home consultations.
In opening the store, Kuepfer said the most challenging aspect was bringing the store up to their standards.
"We wanted a warm, relaxing atmosphere for customers," he said. "We really want to make customers feel at home."
The most satisfying aspect is finally seeing the doors to Artisan Interiors open and the response it has garnered from other downtown businesses and the community.
"The downtown business owners have been very supportive and a lot of people have been coming in to check things out," he said. "Sales have been good."
Most of all, he said he wants Stratford to know his business is for locals, not just tourists.
"The support from local people has been great because this really is a store for the people from town."