BY WENDY HUENUL-VALDES
Open Sesame won’t be the only words coming out of your mouth when arriving at a Kitchener business by the same name.
Lauren Weinberg, owner of Open Sesame, a store and arts and culture hub in Kitchener, moved to the city from Chicago hoping to start her own art space and, on Halloween of 2015, she did. Weinberg realized that she and her husband have an unique ability for finding items no one else has. So she opened the store, stocking it with items that she finds in Toronto and other favourite places such as smaller hole-in-the-wall boutiques. Her store is like those more commonly seen in bigger cities like Toronto and Chicago.
“I got to know the art scene and there were a lot of really small spaces like apartment galleries that were student-run … I was sort of used to these very DIY and kind of hybrid spaces that were not officially non-profit but had that kind of mindset,” Weinberg said.
This is what makes Open Sesame so unique. While during the week it is a cute little consignment boutique with a different assortment of sweet knickknacks, on the weekend Weinberg has space set up for the local music scene and artist-run workshops. Acts have included The Maras, Jojo Worthington, Jean Daddy and Safe as Houses. In addition, artisans can display their artwork throughout the week.
Open Sesame sells items such as books by independently owned publishers, enamel pins, cards, art prints and baby clothes, all with unique designs and, for the most part, designed by local artists. Weinberg said it is important that a community come together to support the arts and local businesses.
“Pay attention to things that might not seem that interesting and are actually really shaping your community,” she said, “like the fact that we only have a few big developers that own property in downtown and they really don’t have a reason to rent it out to independent businesses.”
Although having built up a good reputation amongst the arts community, Weinberg is waiting to hear back on whether or not she will be able to lease the space she is currently in again next year. If she can’t, she said she is already looking for a different place with her primary goal being to have enough space to continue to be able to hold shows and workshops.