Thursday, Jan 18th, 2018

The end of an era

Posted on December 14, 2017 Richard MacKenzie; [email protected]


Beth and Jeff Parker stand in the middle of their Lyghtesome Gallery store on Main Street in Antigonish. They’re in the midst of their last month of operating the retail-side of the gallery, which will close Dec. 30. Richard MacKenzie

The year 2017 is winding down and, with it, Lyghtesome Gallery’s time as a retail business on Main Street in Antigonish.
Gallery owners and operators Jeff and Beth Parker have made the decision to close the day-to-day operation, noting it is just “time.”
“Basically we’re retiring,” Beth said, speaking to the Casket Dec. 4.
“It’s partly because we have a lot of grandchildren and we just want to have the freedom to go and visit and help them out.”
“Forty-three years,” Jeffrey said, noting the business’ age. “And we started young; I was 25 and Beth 24 or 23.”
A brief written history of the business’ start-up was supplied to the Casket.
“Lyghtesome first opened its door in the spring of 1975 in the old Knights of Columbus building on College Street and consisted of two retail business under one roof; Lyghte Photo Studio and Gallery which offered professional photographic services as well as custom framing and art exhibitions, and Some Specialties, a coffee, tea and herb shop that was, subsequently sold to Sunflower Natural Foods and replaced by first a house plant store and then a craft-cooperative.”
The history write-up noted an electrical fire in 1980 destroyed most of the photo studio equipment and set in motion the move to where Lyghtesome, eventually, ended up.
“The decision was made [after the fire] to combine space and share overhead costs with the Bookworm, a used book business. In 1984, the building on College Street was torn down and Lyghtesome temporarily relocated in the old CN building on Haley Road, for six months, before moving to their present location at 166 Main St.”
“We’re particularly grateful to Marie Cormier who, graciously, allowed us to be here on the side of her home,” Beth said.
“We’ve had one very long time employee, Nellie Benoit from Pomquet … she has just been invaluable.”
Asked about what they’ll miss most from operating the retail business, Beth and Jeff noted their daily interaction with the public.
“The public contact,” Jeff said, with both also taking about their dealings with the artists.
“The relationship with the artists has been a wonderful part of this,” Beth said.
“There are several artists who have been with us since the very beginning; Anna Syperek is one, Lina Johns, Ron Hazell – he was teaching at St. F.X. at the time.”
Jeff talked about how they’ll be maintaining a working relationship with some of the artists.
“We’re closing the retail but we’re still going to maintain Lyghtesome Gallery,” he said.
“For instance, we have a show of Linda Johns’ work that is coming up at the university in January and February. She hasn’t had a public show like that for several years now; it’s all new work and we’ve been working really closely with her to get that launched. We’ve always been her public agent and we do all the framing for it, the arrangements.
“But we’ll limit what we do,” he said, referencing back to retail business. “Certainly, just the reduction of the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily operating of the business will be a huge change for us.”
He talked about how the month will proceed as the closing date draws near.
“We’re going to close the 30th of December, so we’re going to go to Christmas and that week after, probably, have some close-out type of sales to move out some things,” he said.
“No way are we liquidating by any means; that would be just impossible for us,” he added, noting unsold pieces would be returned to artists and that’s a process which would take up a good part of January.
The history write-up referenced Lyghtesome’s secret to longevity.
“While many galleries continuously open and close testing the markets viability, Lyghtesome remains one of the oldest commercial galleries in the province and has managed to survive, primarily, because they have stayed small, worked hard to maintain a high quality and a solid provincial reputation with a loyal customer base.”
“The community has been very supportive,” Beth said. “It has been wonderful.”

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