Need to furnish led to new biz

Former innkeepers learned as they went along

Before opening Green Light District, Deborah and David Peets were in the hospitality industry running a country inn out of a 160-year-old mansion they had renovated. Although they didn’t have a background in the field, the idea for a design store came after they sold the inn and had to furnish a condo from scratch.

“We thought that there was space for a different kind of shopping in Ottawa that offered something other than what we could find there because there wasn’t enough variety,” says David. “We wanted to fill what we thought was a need for something a little bit different in stylish modern furniture.”

After three and a half years in the nation’s capital, the pair decided to relocate the business to Toronto and were immediately attracted to Roncesvalles Avenue, where their store is now located near Howard Park Avenue.

“The more time we spent here the more we realized that there was a great sense of community here,” says Deborah.

“We can’t emphasize enough how happy we are living and working right here,” David adds. “Everything that we need is right here on the street.”

Green Light District offers home furnishings and accessories they source from designers around the world. Being able to travel to scope out unique piece and attend design shows in places like São Paulo and Buenos Aires is a major job perk, they say.

“The best part is going to find new product because we like to go meet the designer personally, source the product directly from where they’re making it, sit in the chairs, feel the fabric, so that involves travel, which we love so it’s very much the best part of the job,” says David.

Since they often go to remote destinations often buying from small scale designers, Deborah says most of their stock isn’t available anywhere else in North America.

Although their items are modern, they say they aren’t so trendy that people will outgrow the styles and say their focus is on finding well-made pieces with good design aesthetics made with natural materials.

One thing they’ve learned since opening the business is they don’t have an average customer.

“You can’t predict who is going to respond to the product,” says David. “It’s the full range of people from teenaged kids to even young girls who drag their moms right in here to older people who are downsizing.”

Deborah says she hopes the future consists of continuing to run a successful store and says they pride themselves on supplying customers with unique and timeless pieces they can keep for the rest of their lives. Since opening, she says people in the neighbourhood have been really supportive by purchasing gifts from the store for Christmas gifts and making them feel part of the community.

“I would say everyday for the first four months at least one person and often more would come in and say welcome to the community and that blew us away,” she says.

About this article:

By: Ann Ruppenstein
Posted: Apr 11 2012 1:19 pm
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto