After almost 30 years on Beacon Avenue, Inga Michel of Tivoli Gallery at 2475 Beacon Ave. is retiring.
Michel, who started Tivoli in 1985, said the timing is right for her to retire but that she will miss the gallery and her many faithful customers.
“I’ve had a lot of success over the last 30 years and I only have my wonderful staff and loyal customers to thank for that,” she said.
“I would like to extend a special thanks to Wendy Lopez and Nicole Guldner who have worked with me for the past number of years, as well as Penny who was with me for 16 years and my late husband Karl.”
It was Karl, she said, who got her started on her personal claim to fame, her watercolour line depicting whimsical birds he dubbed Inga Birds.
“He was a framer and had a great eye for art,” Michel said.
Michel, 76, said one of her favourite parts of owning the business was sourcing the local artists and pieces to bring in for sale.
“I always loved tracking down artists and lines to bring in to the store for my customers,” Michel said.
“For me it was almost like being a detective, which I always wanted to be as a child,” she laughed.
“Inga is a great supporter of local artisans,” added Tivoli Gallery employee Wendy Lopez.
Lopez said the store has become a destination for locals and tourists alike who are searching for souvenirs that represent the northwest coast.
“We have a lot of local First Nations pieces and unique items that have been purchased here and taken all over the world,” she explained.
The future of Tivoli Gallery, which was sold in late summer, is a bit unclear, said Michel.
“I know it was bought by a Chinese family but I don’t know of any of their plans for it yet,” she explained, adding that current staff will be kept on through the ownership change.
“I will be watching with interest to see how and if it changes,” she said.
For now, Michel said she’s looking forward to retirement.
“Owning and operating a business is a lot of work, so I’m really looking forward to slowing down, catching up on sleep and being able to do the things I didn’t get to do because I was always so busy.”
Michel will remain in Sidney and said she will continue to do contract work in her spare time.
“I hope to do some consulting and window displays for other business, so I will still be visible in the town.”
The store will close under Michel’s ownership this Friday, Oct. 10 at 5 p.m.