Rubaiyat Gallery
By YP Contributor

Calgary's Family-Run Gift Gallery

While studying art in university, David Haight took part in a craft gallery. He enjoyed the experience so much that when he graduated he decided to open his own. The result was Rubaiyat, a gallery that primarily sells handcrafted gifts and crafts. “It was challenging,” David says of starting up his business. “But it is the case of learning as you go. In art you do that anyway.”

The gallery got its start in 1973 and over the years Rubaiyat has built a reputation for showcasing fine handcrafted giftware by Canadian and international artists. It’s taken a lifelong commitment by David and his wife to build that reputation, sometimes working six days a week. “We represent 500 artists currently and work with them directly,” David notes.

The couple's children are working with them as well, which has breathed new life into Rubaiyat. “We likely wouldn’t have carried the load anymore. It’s a great renewal for the business,” David points out. “We are proud they chose to join us; it’s encouraging because they are attuned to the business. I don’t know if it’s because it’s been bred into them or because they’ve been around it their whole lives.”

Even though we’re a unique store because of our product and presentation, we are still a gift store. At the end of the day, we are just trying to fulfill people’s needs. - David Haight, owner
Rubaiyat - Art glass, ceramics, gifts, pottery, seasonal, gift registry

A Landmark Store for Handcrafted Goods

In the world of mass-produced items, Rubaiyat sets itself apart by maintaining a focus on handcrafted goods. People still recognize craftsmanship. “It comes down to what you buy,” explains David. “Our older clients still appreciate the work.”

As mass-produced items tend to dominate the market, David and his staff understand the value of educating their clients on why handcrafted artwork is so vital. “We’ve got a good reputation for being a landmark store,” says David. “Some people don’t get us, but the ones who are curious eventually become customers as they spend more time seeing what we have and asking questions about it.”

Rubaiyat - Art glass, ceramics, gifts, pottery, seasonal, gift registry

Showcasing Canadian and International Artists

When Rubaiyat first opened, its spotlight was primarily on Canadian artists. Over time, however, the store expanded, allowing David to grow his product line. The shop now carries items from around the world.

“Things have improved as far as finding those new artists,” explains David. “We used to have to visit studios independently and that involved a lot of travelling. Artists and craftsmen got organized and started having shows so we could meet a lot of artists in one spot.”

The changing times have meant Rubaiyat must adapt as well. Instead of exhibitions to showcase an artist’s work, the gallery hosts interactive meetings. “The purpose is to get the artist and the public together. It lets the artist’s work be explained and understood,” David points out.

The gallery is also turning to social media to get the word out and finding other innovative ways to attract new clients. “Even though we’re a unique store because of our product and presentation, we are still a gift store," David notes. "At the end of the day, we are just trying to fulfill people’s needs.”

Rubaiyat - Art glass, ceramics, gifts, pottery, seasonal, gift registry
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