Camera & Frame Shop since 1978

store history

Here's a little something about us

about foto art

Eva and Zen Ciokan purchased Foto Art Camera Shop in November of 1978, after having spent many years in the photographic industry. Both professional photographers with varied experience, they previously owned businesses in Midland Ontario, Banff, Lake Louise and Calgary Alberta. These included professional photographic services and a full-service camera shop with in-house black and white film processing.

In 1978 while passing through Owen Sound on the way to the family cottage in Tobermory, Eva stopped at McDonald's Restaurant where she ran into a salesman from one of her suppliers who informed her of an opportunity to take over a struggling business in Owen Sound.

Foto Art was originally established in Owen Sound in the early 1950's by Gerry McDonald initially sharing a location on 2nd Avenue East near Pharmaplus with Jim Vamplew from Vamplew Electronics. Gerry moved the store to 10th Street East between 2nd and 3rd Avenues before re-locating to 2nd Avenue East in a storefront that is now part of Fulford's Hardware. Gerry passed away some years later and the business was acquired by Tom Farrar from whom Eva and Zen purchased the business.

After a slow and humble start, as Eva and Zen split their time between Foto Art and running a store in Midland, an opportunity arrived in 1981 to sell the business in Midland so they could concentrate all there efforts on the Owen Sound location. Eva and Zen had the philosophy to build the business slowly and to make friends with the business community. They felt that building long-term relationships was the most valuable asset when running a small business.

With a new business and a new focus it was time to move ahead. Peter, one of their two sons, finished school at O.S.C.V.I. in 1982 and started working full time at the store one hour later, never to look back. The photographic industry was changing rapidly and it was time for expansion. Foto Art Camera Shop soon realized that one hour processing was the new and coming trend and that it was important to keep up with the industry. With Peter bringing new energy to the business Foto Art moved to its larger and current location: 842 2nd Avenue East in downtown Owen Sound. Eva, Zen and Peter installed the first ONE HOUR processing lab in Owen Sound, in fact the first lab north of Toronto.

Zen looked after the books and helped out on the retail floor and in the lab. Eva ran the lab and assisted with everything else. Peter concentrated his efforts on the store along with his dedicated staff.

Many evenings you could drive by Foto Art and see the lights on well into the wee hours of the morning as the Ciokan's ensured that their customers received their photographs first thing in the morning. Hard work is the cornerstone of their success.

Foto Art Camera Shop prospered through the busy 80's with tremendous growth and shared wonderful relationships with many new customers. Eva unfortunately became ill in early 1986, continuing however to work hard at the business as it was her life. Eva passed away in February of 1988.

Zen decided then it was time to slow down and retire the business to his son, Peter. Peter, young and aggressive at the age of 23, decided to forge ahead constantly renovating and upgrading to meet his customers' needs. Zen, although retired, always kept his hand in the business in some aspect or another. He unfortunately fell ill in 1993 and passed away in 1994.

Peter continued on again expanding retail space, improving services, introducing educational seminars and offering a more diverse product selection to meet a challenging new market.

The latest challenge in the photographic industry is the growing popularity of digital photography, with new cameras and new printers and all kinds of new technology becoming available, photography is more exciting than it has ever been...something new...If only Eva and Zen were here now...

Peter has been in touch with this trend since its beginning as early as 1985. Foto Art was the first in the area to stock and sell digital cameras and supplies as soon as they were available.

Foto Art Camera Shop along with its friendly knowledgeable staff are the best equipped to answer any question and to provide the best service available in the area.

We formally invite you back to this section of our web site twenty years from now to get the next update on how we are doing, better yet just drop by the store and ask!

As of 2013, FotoArt is still open for business and thriving in the digital age. We continue to do our best to find our customers what they need when it comes to digital photography, selling some of the top brands in Canada.

Over the years, the store has changed with new products, new displays, employees have come and gone, some have stayed, some have grown...We still believe customer service is the key! One thing are employees and customers have in common is our love for photography, whether young or mature, amateur or professional, FotoArt is Happy to Help.

Peter Ciokan

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