Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Apter's Chapters: Save the Independents

Just over a year ago I put up a post called Shop Mom and Pop. I was lamenting the closure of several independent art shops in NYC and encouraging creatives to shop at their local brick and mortar store for their supplies. It definitely struck a nerve as it is now my second most read blog post from 2017.

Today I make the same plea after just receiving news of the closing of The Stamp Addict, an independent craft shop in San Diego, CA - one that I was scheduled to teach with in 2018 for the first time. Sadly, this is occurring more and more often - both in the United States and Internationally. And I guarantee that as I write this, there is a group of owners who are now considering closing shop. Perhaps they have been on the fence for sometime but 2018 might just be the year that they have no choice but to close.

The reasons are of course familiar (e.g., the convenience of the Internet, lower prices online, the tempting 40% off coupons,, etc.). But every time a mom and pop shop closes...

--we miss out on a very personal shopping experience.
--we lose a community.
--we no longer have the opportunity to ask product questions from knowledgeable staff.
--we have one less place to take workshops and see demos.
--we lose the opportunity to see (and often try) a product in person.

...not to mention that there are fewer places for teaching artists to find work and that the shop owners lose their livelihood.

More than once I have heard from former owners that former customers share words of sadness and disappointment when the closing announcement was made -- but many of those same customers hadn't shopped regularly at their store for years. I say it is time to show support while the doors are still open. There is no easy way to to turn the tide, but we as a community can make a difference.

Amex already sponsors Small Business Saturday, which this year will be on November 24. But why wait? And why only make this effort once a year?

I say we all make it a point to head to the our local (or semi-local) independent craft or art shop this month and buy something. Or buy many things. Say hello and thank the owner. And buy something. Or many things. And then go back again any other day and buy more. 

And if you are a shopper (and who are we kidding - if you are reading this, of course you are), leave a comment and share the name and/or link to your favorite shop(s). Let's get this party started!


Living to work - working to live said...

Oh Seth - so true! How easy it is for us to just sit at our desk at lunchtime and peruse the Internet. For my art supplies I do shop small ( except the occasional dash to Hobbycraft for fixative) but mostly on line as there isn't a bricks and mortar shop near me for Infusions inks etc. I don't know what it's like in the states but in the uk shop rents and rates can just be prohibitive. We have a campaign here called 'Just a card' encouraging people to buy at least one little thing if they go into a local independent shop. Of course it applies to art materials too.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I am an outlier. I don't shop online. I have three big box craft/art supply/paint/fabric stores I can go to, but for mixed media, the ONLY place to go is Mrs. O'Leary's. Joanie Russell, the owner is there on occasion, and she is so supportive and welcoming. There is also a resident cat that loves to be loved. Joanie designs and makes a lot of the rubber stamps at her home and she has workshops and classes, too. for the best mixed media, jewelery findings, and memorabilia around!

Unknown said...

If you're in St. Louis, I recommend ArtMart!
Been shopping there for years and love it!

Angeline said...

There are no places near where I live...even not for miles, where I can enjoy a small art shop. I live in Miami, Florida. I shop online because the large stores are that exist about 30 miles away from me...and funny thing is, I still support a couple of the large stores in this manner, anyway.
I dislike the huge box craft stores. Unfortunately, there is one near me and if I need something immediately, I will use that 40% coupon and buy there. The store doesn't carry what I I go back to online shopping at the larger stores because I don't have 4 hours to drive, shop, and drive.
When I travel, I LOVE LOVE LOVE going to small art shops. They are lovely, as their employees are, too. I learn about new to me supplies, uses, etc. while wandering the aisles.
If there were any mom and pops near me, I would be going to them. Alas, most are gone where I live. Sadly, I shop online and miss out on new supplies, new teachers, etc.
Thanks for re-posting this.

Foxglove said...

When I lived in Nebraska, I would visit the two local scrapbook stores. I loved them, because they had products and brands the chain stores didn't. They were also more expensive than the chains or internet, but I ALWAYS left with something. Sadly, there are no independent craft stores where I live, and even the chain stores are lacking, so I mostly get my supplies online.

Cathy - CMP Designs said...

I am so very fortunate to have Clipper Street to shop at!!
Deanna and her team are just amazing and I wish I could spend more (don't we all?!) but they are my peeps. I support them anyway i can!!

Fliss said...

I know exactly what this is like Seth as in my area all of the independent art and craft stores have closed in the last few years due to losing their business to 2 large chain's stores which now have branches in the locality.
The only one left is around 10 miles away down the coast and stocks brands such a Golden so I really hope they keep going as the friendly staff are always so helpful.
I have to buy some stuff online as there are no shops around that actually stock the stamps, embossing powders etc that I like which is a real shame.
Fliss x

Paula Gardner said...

This is a very sad trend for fabric stores, too, especially for garment sewists.

Gwen Lafleur said...

Tracie, who owns Papercraft Clubhouse in Connecticut is a good friend and we've talked about this often over the last few years. It's so hard for the independents to stay afloat - trying to compete with the margins, sales, and advertising of the big box stores is almost impossible, even with the more limited product selection they offer. It's especially difficult when craft companies make deals with the big stores to get them product first instead of supporting the shops that actually provide the education for those products. I get the economics of it, but that lack of support for independents really makes me sad. This is why I also like to work with companies like StencilGirl or Emerald Creek who don't sell into big box stores.

It's so true what you said... you don't get the same knowledgeable service or educational opportunities without the small stores. They also tend to carry smaller brands, more unique items, and are generally much more fun to shop at. I don't have any small independent mixed media / art supply stores near me, (but I do shop small / local for groceries and other things as much as I can,) so I like to support my friends who own small businesses. I can call Tracie and she'll ship me anything from Ranger, Prima, etc... or Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, VA has a great online shop and I love to pop in when I'm home visiting - they have such an eclectic and unique selection! I'll also travel to go take classes at either of those stores or at Ephemera Paducah... so many great shops out there that deserve our support! It's worth it to me to pass on the coupons and shop small. (And honestly, how many of us have found that we show up at Michaels with a coupon and there's nothing we even want to use it on?)

Thanks for bringing this up! Hopefully we can continue to spread awareness and do what we can to support the local and independent shops... we lose something special every time one of them has to close its doors.

Kathy said...

Amen! This extends to fabric stores (there is little quality fabric at Joann, Walmart or Hobby Lobby) and bookstores. My mantra (and practice) is that I I walk into an independent to look around, I walk out with a purchase, no matter how small. And I make certain to thank the staff and owner for their fortitude in sticking with it. We are all members of the tribe!

Cindy Marlow said...

It's too late for Boise, ID as far as craft/rubber stamp/scrapbooking stores go. They are all gone. There are still a few independent art supply stores that I frequent. The sad thing is that there is no venue for bringing talented teachers like you, Seth, to this area. We do have a new artists' cooperative that has space to rent for classes. Maybe I'll take the bull by the horns and put together something.

Unknown said...

In MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA, you will find many independent retailers (some of whom may be closing their doors within the next 12 months) will be at From Picture to Page Papercrafts Show in October - let's support our local craft stores!

Unknown said...

I’m lucky to have found Clipper Street as well. The store has talented staff who enthusiastically share their knowledge. They are not on my doorstep but definitely worth the drive for a great assortment of products, classes, product demos and amazing guest instructors. I started with scrapbooking 9 years ago and within the first 5 years I saw 4 shops close in Saskatoon. I love being able to shop locally.

Chyfey said...

I live in country Queensland, Australia and the nearest art shop is a good 2 hour drive there then the same back.I wait till I have several items and ask around my friends if they want anything before heading off to shop ,theres a bakery 2 doors up for coffee and cake then its time to drive home.There were closer shops but they are gone and for small country towns its not just art shops ,its butchers ,bakers, banks ,cafe's and mini markets and even garages .

Redanne said...

Oh Seth, how true this is and I feel so sad in saying that! I wish I could name a store near me, where I can shop in person, but sadly where I live here in England, there is not one single craft store within at least a two hour drive from home. My favourite store, Artist Trading Post closed down a few years ago (still a long drive, but so worth it) and was then taken over by a lady who now runs it now as an on-line store. She is a small retailer and I support her as much as possible. But, it is not the same though as popping into a local store, talking to and sharing ideas with like minded people. I really do miss the 'human' touch, getting excited about the merits of a paint line, using new techniques or just simply having a 'crafty' chat! xx

Terry said...

Thank you Seth for highlighting the current state of affairs for many small businesses. In Maryland, as you well know, we have The Queen's Ink. I can't imagine what it would be like if we didn't have this friendly, magical place to gather, take workshops from amazing artists (like you), create art and shop for cool art products. Running a brick and mortar doesn't come cheap. The overhead and overall risk is mind boggling. Small shops can't match the offers from some of these business selling out of their garages or big warehouses that don't have the same kind of overhead. It's always terrific to score a great price on a craft supply but nothing beats having a place to go where you can be inspired and mingle with other creatives. xo

trish quilty said...

All our stamp stores have closed in Mass. Such a shame. No where to go but Michaels, and they have cut back on stamps etc. I miss the camaraderie, the sharing. Most of my good friends I met while comeraderie in classes.Miss seeing you Seth too and all the other talented instructors.

Tracie L said...

Thank you Seth for once again bringing this issue up. Thank you Gwen for your kind words about Papercraft Clubhouse. I am grateful to artists like both of you who travel to teach at my store. I am also grateful for the customers who come from all over (NY, NJ, MA, RI and of course CT) to learn from you in person. There's nothing like spending several days immersed in learning new things, creating art, meeting a community and of course shopping for supplies where you can touch and feel them. See you this weekend, Seth! Excited to get artsy with you!

Anonymous said...

So true and sad. I found this happening over the past few years in the Phoenix area - my favorite stores for making art and friends, sharing knowledge and going to classes - closing. Thank you, Seth, for pointing this out, and I will try to support my local arts and craft store. There is one here in Conrad, Montana, where I now life: Creative Addictions, a fun place to shop and talk. I hope they make it - this is a very small town.

Gail said...

In my little area on the west coast of Canada, there are no big box stores. The closest one involves a 40-minute ferry ride and then driving through city traffic. However, there are a lot of artists who live here, and there are two places to buy quality art supplies: Lisa's Framing and Art Supplies and Vivian's at Mosaic Market. I am not an artist. I love to play and learn new techniques and lately have been addicted to gelli printing. While I first went to the dollar store for cheap craft paints, I quickly switched to using better quality acrylic paints from the art supply store so I could get the results I wanted.
I have been a stamper and card maker for many years, and am a demo for a direct sales company, so I support my own business when it comes to stamps, cardstock, etc.

Nan said...

I always shop at the brick-and-mortar first--both for art supplies and for crafty things. And I encourage folks in my classes and demos to do the same. The exceptions are only when I need something the local stores don't carry or can't order for me. That's the only way to keep 'em open, folks! Oh, and if I can't get to the store, I call and order--and if I can't get in to pick it up, they will ship!

Karen G. said...

I'm lucky enough to be able to travel to Papercraft Clubhouse in Westbrook CT to attend classes and buy product. Tracie and her staff are the best. Looking forward to having class with you Seth this weekend.

Peej said...

I say the same thing all the can buy amazon etc but reserve it for things your store doesn't carry...if your store closes..who is going to demonstrate new techniques or products. .teach classes..have wonderful guest teachers etc...people may not be aware but at my store, papercraft clubhouse Tracie will order most everything and ship it to you...and when you take a guest teacher class you get 10% off your total purchase that day as a bonus..doesn't get better than that

Sharon said...

Hi Seth, I met you last year in Birmingham through the Paperartsy workshops. I have only opened my wee arts and crafts shop here in Ballynahinch, Northern Ireland, in May this year. It's only been a couple of months but it has been so well received by the local community and those from further afield. I absolutely love my job,meeting new people, learning about new products coming to the market and most of all I love sharing the gift of arts and crafts with those who 'think' they're not artistic. One of my biggest problems is the high minimum orders for buying from wholesalers, I simply don't have that kind of money to spend on one item so I tend to stick with the same people whose minimum order is much lower. I would love to carry whole ranges like the big stores or those who run online shops but it is financially impossible for me at the minute. I absolutely appreciate everyone who comes in to my shop and will always make time for them, my number of repeat customers so far is growing every week and I get so excited when they call in again. My shop is called Craft Your Art Out and we are on facebook. If any of the readers here are ever in Co. Down, Northern Ireland make sure to call in, that includes you too Seth :-) xx

LoneStarLibrarian said...

Texas Art Supply in Houston -- couldn't live without it!

Kelly said...

This post is spot on.

When I began teaching more than 20 years ago, in Southern California alone we had more than 12 stores! In Southern California, we have NONE. In LOS ANGELES, NONE.

Driving down Melrose, which used to be a mecca for shopping (there was even a stamp store!), now the street is full of FOR LEASE signs.

I used to teach every weekend Friday through Sunday LOCALLY. That ended in 2007 or so. Now I am extremely grateful and very lucky when someone opens their home or studio doors to me. I know I am not alone.

My favorite mom and pop art shops that I have been to and shop at when I am in the area:

NY- The Ink Pad
MD-The Queen's Ink
FL-Everything Scrapbook and Stamps
Castle in the Air
Nova Paint
Baller Hardware and Art
Blue Rooster
Scrapbook Island

It breaks my heart at how short this list has become.

Ask your local store owner (if you are lucky enough to have one) to carry the products you are looking for. Many are always looking for new supplies and are eager to listen to their customers. Treat them like a community: ask for demos, take workshops, attend crops, etc... Support the local shops as much as possible and they will be there for you when you need them.

Cathy P said...

You are SO right, Seth!

I love the community of crafters! It will be a VERY sad day if we lose that opportunity.

I LOVE the Papercraft Clubhouse in Westbrook, CT. It's almost two hours from my house so I don't go often but, when I do, I sure try to make up for my long absences! LOL!