Kingston Paint & Decorating Inc. opened for business October 31, 1994. Hal Cowie, the store’s founder, had been in the paint industry in one way or another since he was a teen. His father owned Cowie Brothers Painting and Hal worked for him as a painter. Over his career he worked for almost every recognizable paint company; Glidden, Sherwin Williams, Sadolin, Color Your World, St. Clair and Para. For a period of time in the 80's he co-owned another local independent paint store. When that partnership dissolved and while serving out a non-competition clause, Hal worked for Para Paints. But his real love was the commercial and retail side of the paint business and he always planned to open another paint store in Kingston.
In the spring of 1994 a lease was signed and renovations began at Kingston Paint's original location, 277 Bath Road. The 1200 square foot store would be a full-line Benjamin Moore Paint store. It started with three employees; Hal, Mike Crafter Sr. and me, Carrie Lynn Macpherson.
After less than two years, having quickly out grown its original space, Kingston Paint took advantage of the closure of the convenience store next door and in the spring of 1996 began renovations which more than doubled the store's square footage. This allowed for a second office to be added as well as much needed warehouse space, but most noticeable was the ability to expand the wallcoverings department. At that time wallpaper and wallpaper borders were common and found in most homes. The department became the largest in the Kingston area.
In 1999 a third expansion took place. This time the dry cleaning company next door closed allowing for a separate 'store within a store' for our contract and commercial paint customers.
Time passes quickly, and soon we had been in the same space for twenty years! Kingston Paint celebrated its 20th Anniversary in October 2014. At the same time plans were underway for our biggest undertaking yet. Moving!
Hal was preparing to retire in 2015 and wanted to ensure that the next 20 years for Kingston Paint was in a location that would allow the company to thrive. The former Marks Work Wearhouse in the Peachtree Plaza had been empty for quite some time and after months of negotiations an agreement was reached and plans were made for the move.
Renovations began in February 2015. No one believes that it is slightly smaller in square footage than the Bath Road location. It does indeed look larger in many ways. The old store was a bit of a maze in the mostly unseen warehouse area. Joining three different units together will do that. Our new space was a nice big rectangle organized to our specifications and designed with efficiency in mind.
The move took place over a couple of weeks as we emptied shelves, dismantled them, put them back together and then moved the stock. It was back breaking work even though we moved only one street away. We closed for only two days during the whole process. Those final two days were long as we moved the last stock, our colour centres and tint machines. We re-filled shelves, stacked paint cans, arranged and re-arranged things to our liking. The end result was better than we could ever have imagined.
We re-opened March 31, 2015 and it was business as usual. The biggest fear when moving a business after 20 years is that your customers won't be able to find you. Thankfully the information age has helped with that, along with a lot of advertising and some help from our old neighbours Mark and Jennifer at M&M Meats who continue to send our customers over to us.
So many customers, friends and staff have been a part of Kingston Paint’s history. Without them we would not be what we are today! We have watched so many wonderful students work with us as they completed their degrees and went on to follow their dreams by becoming nurses, police officers, midwives, customs officials, power plant workers, electricians and more. Their dream was not to work here forever, but they brought to our business a youthful energy. Many of them stayed with us after graduating until they found a position in their field, and then, like proud parents, we watched them go. Missing them but happy to have been a part of their lives as they decided their futures.
On August 19, 2015 after almost 21 years, Hal retired. The end of an era, as Hal and I had worked side by side and shared an office the entire time. It would be an adjustment for both us. I am happy to report that now, over three years later, he and I still keep in touch on an almost daily basis. Sometimes we talk about business, but most of the time we just chat like we used to about our families and travels and about nothing at all. Hal will always be my mentor and one of my closest friends, without whom this opportunity would never have happened. I am grateful every day that he took a chance on me. I had no experience with paint. I was a 24 year old waitress with a bachelors degree from Queen’s and wanted to be a teacher… Until I was bitten by the paint bug and I’ve never looked back.