Montreal’s oldest paint shop – City Paints has been a trusted local business in Montreal for almost 120 years. It passed from generation to generation since 1898 before landing in the hands of co-owners Jason Zuckerman and his father, Danny.
Jason began working in the shop in 1994, after graduating from high school. At the time, he worked with his father and two uncles. Jason waited his turn to buy into the family business. Now, he is the only family member still working in the shop.
“You don’t see this every day,” Zuckerman said. “There are other businesses that are that old, but to have stayed in the same family—that you don’t see. It’s an honour to be a part of that.”
City Paints was originally opened as a full-service hardware store. City Hardware Supply was located across the street from the current location. They sold paint, but there weren’t enough options to run the store entirely on paint at the turn of the twentieth century. “Now there are so many kinds of paints that we can have a specialty paint store.”
Paint began to enter their shop in 1938: City Hardware was one of the first Benjamin Moore retailers in Canada. The family directed a strong focus towards paint in the 1950s, relocated to their larger shop across the street in 1959, and officially took the name of City Paints in 1980.
Now, City Paints offers quality paint products, equipment, and personalized service. They answer questions, and provide the correct products for every project. In recent years, City Paints has grown to include an online store as well. While they advise that people visit them in store for matching paint colours, the online shop is a quick way to order all the extra tools or quick colours they need.
The evolution of the shop is documented on the walls of the store. “We have photos on our walls of the original store in 1898. I enjoy showing those photos to people,” he said. Between the photographs, old paint cans, and other memorabilia, a trip to the shop can feel like a day at the museum—if you know to ask about the store’s history. “I’m proud to be a part of it.”
The returning customers fill the blanks between the photos. “I enjoy people coming in and sharing history of the store,” Zuckerman said.
Aside from selling the typical household needs—interior and exterior paints, and stains—City Paints recently brought in a line of spray paints for street artists. “We are trying to open the market to something completely different in our store,” said Zuckerman.
They have supplied Montreal’s Mural Festival with background paints for the past four years. “That connected us with a lot of artists, so we brought in spray paint,” Zuckerman said. “We saw this as something big that could really work for us.” Now, City Paints stocks over 250 colours of spray paint with hopes to supply Montreal’s street artists with every colour they need.
Although City Paints evolved over the years, the core business values stayed the same. Returning customers come into the store looking for Jason and his father. While Jason is the only family member working at City Paints now, the team he has hired still makes customers feel like they are visiting old friends.
“I’ve hired great staff,” Zuckerman said. “They are almost like my family there. We get along so well.” His friendly team gives returning customers the same family-feel each time they visit. They are dedicated to the business. Jason respects their input and trusts them to run the store on the occasions he has paperwork to do at home.
Jason Zuckerman is most proud to be a part of City Paints’ growth. “Years ago the same thing was going on, but people weren’t showing up in cars. They showed up on horses,” he said. “I think about that a lot. If only my great grandfather could come back today to see what was going on. We are still here. It’s rewarding being a part of such an old business.”
Visit Jason Zuckerman in the store, or learn more online at citypaints.ca.