Larry and Gillian Hanlon have owned and operated Peninsula Gallery for over 25 years, but as of next week, the two will be moving on to new endeavours after they sold the popular art hub earlier this year.
“I know there will be days I will miss it but I’m looking forward to retiring,” said Larry, adding that he hasn’t quite decided what his next plans will include.
“I like to say that chapter has yet to be written,” he laughed.
Larry started the business in 1986 in Mariner Village mall at the corner of Beacon and Seventh Street.
“I opened it then with the notion I would sell a lot of prints, posters and limited editions,” he explained, adding that the gallery quickly evolved into something greater.
“As we brought in better quality art we found there was always a market for it.
That’s when we moved in the Landmark Building so we could have more space to display original pieces and sculpture.”
The Hanlon’s have seen their fair share of change in Sidney’s landscape over the the last quarter century.
“When we first moved into the space in the Landmark Building it had been occupied by a bank and this end of town used to be the quiet end,” he said.
“Once the breakwater was put in and the marina area was developed the town became much more of a destination with tourists coming through all year long.”
A turning point for the business, he continued, was in 2000 when the gallery showed $2.5 million worth of Robert Bateman originals they had been able to glean before they were shipped to South Africa.
“We had 17,000 people come through the gallery for that show. Did it change things for us? Well aside from the fact we needed new carpet, yes, it gave exposure we never had before that,” he laughed.
He continued to say that through that show, the gallery gained notoriety with other artists who may not have otherwise known the gallery or considered showing there.
“That show allowed us to continue to broaden the base of artists we showed here and increase the number of customers we had interested in pieces coming in,” he said.
“We had a tremendous amount of community support after that.”
The two decided to look into retirement and selling the gallery over the last year or so.
“When we put it on the market we had three offers on it very quickly but the new owners, we just knew they were the right people,” said Gillian.
Ying Tang, a movie director and producer in Shanghai, China, purchased the gallery and members of her family who live here in Victoria will run it.
“Ying and her family had been looking to purchase a gallery and we had many artists in our gallery they liked and admired. It was a good fit.”
Gillian continued to say that the new owners have no plans to change the gallery at the outset.
“They want to maintain the artists we have now and maintain the feel of the gallery, but I would expect customers will see it evolve over time. Everything does,” she said.
Gillian said she is looking forward to spending more time with her grandchildren in her retirement and taking it easy in the coming months. Larry plans to stay with the gallery over the transition in ownership to ensure it all goes smoothly.
“One of the main things is that our framer, Elma Tankink, will be staying with the gallery after the transition which is wonderful,” added Larry, noting Elma has been with them for 22 years and has deep connections with many of the gallery’s customers.
Gillian said Monday, which is her last day at the gallery, will be bittersweet.
“Our customers over the years have been outstanding,” she said.
“It’s so wonderful how much joy we got to bring people in this job. We were the link between the artist and the art lover, and I always felt a bit like we ran an adoption agency,” she laughed.
“We always wanted to make sure the right piece of art was going to the right person.”
“You develop such intimate relationships with people over art and discussing and working out where a piece will hang and whatnot,” added Larry.
“That’s something I will definitely miss.”