Caroline Prévost is the current owner of Mon Shack au Québec and the Arts Court in Old Montreal… but that’s not all! Before owning her store, she was – and still is – a jewellery creator. Since 1996, she has designed and created jewellery, and before acquiring the Old Montreal Arts Court, she put her creations on show. So it’s only natural that when she learned that the previous owner of the Arts Court would be stepping down in 2015, she decided along with another jewellery creator, Virginie Planas, to take up the torch in running this site which has a legacy of hosting exhibitions since 1969! Their motivations for taking on this challenge were twofold: firstly, because they know the area well and they hold a great appreciation for it. And second, they want to “present Quebecois creators to international visitors and locals alike. We want to help others discover local art and the magnificent work that our artisans do here.”
In the summer of 2016, the first temporary running of the boutique Mon Shack au Québec took place. But, why ‘temporary’? “In the beginning, Mon Shack au Québec was just a summer boutique in the Arts Court, open from May to October, but it ended up being a real success! Customers told us that they felt like they were in a small Canadian chalet in the middle of the wilderness, surrounded by objects that were each more original than the last, and only 10 minutes from downtown Montreal. And that’s what Mon Shack au Québec is at its core: experiencing the feeling of a warm cabin nestled in the hustle and bustle of the city!”
And so what was at first a summer-only store became a permanent project. On November 1st, 2016, the building at 161 Saint-Paul East became the beautiful boutique that would sell Quebecois and Canadian creations year-round.
During the following years, Caroline and Virginie succeeded in creating a warm inviting space that people love to return to. “In general, people coming to Mon Shack au Québec or the Old Montreal Arts Court are repeat visitors, both locals and tourists alike. I take it as proof that we know how to keep things fresh. Every year, I integrate new artisans’ works into the collection, along with new creations from artists who already have items featured in-store. At Shack, there’s always something new to discover,” she explains.
Then of course, 2020 arrived with its various surprises and challenges. The biggest change Caroline had to face was her partner’s departure for Europe. “Virginie returned to France to work on new projects and to be closer to her family. I’m continuing the adventure alone, but with just as much passion as I had in the beginning! I am always amazed by the talent the creators around here have, and I feel privileged to be able to present them to the public. I love talking with the store’s customers. Talking about artists and artisans, describing their works, recounting small stories about their themes…” explains this constant guiding light of the art community.
In these difficult times, Caroline stays the course and continues to offer her customers quality products and, above all, an artisanal experience: “Putting art into your life can only improve it, and that’s what I am trying to show every day through my store.” In appreciation, she adds: “And I would like to thank the local clientele that comes to visit and support Quebec’s artisans, the Arts Court and Mon Shack au Québec. I would also like to thank my marvelous team, without whom this amazing adventure would have never existed!”
Determinedly optimistic, Caroline has several ideas for the coming new year, but her first objective will be to develop her online sales: “I want to offer a virtual store to our customers. This has been a part of my projects for a while, but with the pandemic, it’s become my top priority! Living off of one’s art in 2020, with all the exhibitions being cancelled, has been a huge challenge for artists. I think that online sales may just give them the helping hand that they need.”
Mon Shack au Québec is open all winter long, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. As for the Old Montreal Arts Court, it will come back next May.
And, until December 31st of this year, Caroline has a little present for you! “If you say the code ‘Mon Shack’ during payment, you will automatically get a 10% discount on your purchase.”
Photos by Geneviève Giguère