“What’s to stop people buying art supplies online?”
You can just picture the type of person who would ask such a ridiculous question. Middle-aged, stuck in a job they detest, who hasn’t got a creative atom in their entire body, wearing a stuffy shirt and tie, listening to Politics FM. (That’s a made up radio station by the way, just incase any of you decide that might be a channel of interest and spend all evening scrolling through each and every frequency, only to give up in a mad rage with a now-calloused index finger from franticly pressing your radio controls... Sorry to disappoint.)
Well, the answer to the above question is, there’s nothing stopping anyone buying online. We all do it at some stage right? Buying from the mighty interweb is grand if you don’t want to spend £20 on a new iPhone cover from a chain store, or if you’re buying something from a shop which doesn’t have a branch in your town. But online shopping can be deceptive. How many of you have parted with your pennies through a virtual store, only to find that when it arrives, it’s a completely different colour or size compared to the picture you had seen on the website? We’ve all been there.
All major stores have online shopping built into their websites nowadays, and all major grocery stores have ‘click and deliver’ services, yet they all still have brick and mortar stores, which are full of shoppers every day. So why is this? Well because there’s nothing quite like the experience of actually physically shopping. By visiting a bricks-and-mortar shop, you know you can walk in and get what you want there and then, without having to wait 2-3 working days and minus the pesky postage costs.
Buying art supplies and stationery is a very tactile experience. Our customers love to pop in and see the new stock we’ve taken delivery of. They love to stand and leaf through sketchbooks and notebooks to feel the different textures and weight of the paper, going back and fourth deciding which would best suit their needs. They like to run their fingers through the paint brush bristles, deciphering which hair and shape to go for. Our markers come in 720 different hues, which our customers love trying and testing; talking to themselves about whether or not they can afford to buy 8 at a time and pulling out their colour charts to mark off which ones they’re buying and which ones need replacing... none of which you can do while staring at a screen.
Although online shopping is rapidly developing through websites and apps, the whole tangible experience is lost when plonked in front of a laptop, tablet or phone. Even with all the technology in the world, you still can’t smell through a screen. The act of visiting a good art store is one that excites the soul; a feeling that is deeply rooted within artists of all ages.
What makes our day is seeing people be happy. As an art store, we wanted to banish the stuffy, toffee-nosed snobbery that can come as a by-product in relation to the arts, and instead make people feel comfortable perusing the shelves and have a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. We managed to achieve this through some quirky interior design details and using our shop front to make people stop and take notice.
One mistake that we made was painting the walls a light grey when we first moved in. It was a quick fix to cover up the scuffed, mismatched walls, but it instantly watered down the whole space. Suddenly it had zero personality and I was starting to wish I hadn’t bothered. Generally art galleries are painted stark white, and to be quite honest I think it’s a terrible idea. I reckon in the beginning someone decided to try it out and from there it’s just become the done thing. White automatically makes me think of bland, cold, a surgeon’s theatre; it’s super clinical, and none of these things relate to art in anyway shape or form. I expect some of you to comment with the theoretical reasoning behind it, but this is just my opinion. Why on earth would you want to go and stand in a huge fridge to look at pieces of work, which are meant to inspire you and ignite your inner emotions? At the start of the year, I decided enough was enough and prepared to tackle the huge fridge which had taken over our shop. Off I went and bought 10 litres of the most sumptuous New York grey paint and it’s transformed the whole shop no end. It’s now a little bit mysterious, it’s brought back the character the shop once had, it accentuates the colours of the art work on the walls, its softer on the eye and makes you want to walk round just once more before you go.
“Muuuuuuuuum! Look at the dinosaur!”
To the well dressed 50-something couple stopping and having a chortle together, or the bin men stopping their truck in the middle of the road and taking photos on their phone. That’s what makes it all worthwhile really; something that no amount of money can buy. It’s so nice to hear people’s positive comments about our store and how much they love coming down for a nosey. Of course when you start up a brand new business you’re always wondering if it’ll all work out, and when someone tells you that they’ll be coming back to you in future, rather than going to larger stores, it’s a feeling that we can’t describe; we truly appreciate all of your kind words and support over the past 8 months.
That’s us for this week folks, but remember, the best way to predict your future is to create it! x