Art supply store to open DowntownWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
What was just a dream two years ago will become reality this week as two native Toledoans open an art supply store Downtown.
The Art Supply Depo, at 29 S. St. Clair St., will be open 6 to 9 p.m. July 21, during the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo’s July Art Walk. Its first official day of business will be July 22.
Hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and closed Sunday and Monday.
Proprietors Jules Webster and Dana Syrek said the shop will fill a niche by specializing in difficult-to-find supplies local artists need.
“We knew the area needed an art supply store,” said Webster, owner of Shine Ceramics and a graduate of the University of Toledo’s art department. “There’s a real void.”
Webster, a Toledo Free Press Star columnist, said UT once had an art supply store, but it closed. Downtown business Scrap 4 Art deals in scrap art material. Sylvania has For the Love of Art, but there was nothing Downtown, Syrek said.
The business model was inspired by an art supply store Syrek frequented while a student at Miami University in Oxford. That owner caters mainly to Miami’s small art department, working with professors to align what the store carries to what students need for classes.
“A lot of art stores can be overwhelming because there’s just so much stuff,” Syrek said. “This wasn’t overwhelming. It had exactly what I needed.”
The pair is working closely with UT’s art department and has reached out to other local schools as well.
The Art Supply Depo will carry typical items like paint, pastels and colored pencils, but will focus mainly on securing hard-to-find items, including large format paper for printmaking and drawing, rolls of canvas and encaustic, a type of paint made of color pigment and wax.
“There’s nowhere else to get that in town, so we’re really trying to fill some specialty needs for materials,” Syrek said.
The shop will also offer discounted bundle packages containing all the supplies needed for an art class. It will also carry copy paper and basic office supplies, Webster said.
Webster and Syrek, who met through a mutual friend, first looked into buying a franchise but didn’t find one, so they decided to come up with their own concept.
“It was literally one of those things that came to me in the middle of the night,” Syrek said.
Plenty of market research helped focus and refine the model based on what local artists were looking for, Syrek said.
“The model really cares about what people are looking for and that’s the core of how we’re building the business,” Syrek said.
A gallery space will sell work by local artists and patrons will be able to use Wi-Fi, browse art books, read, study and exchange ideas in a lounge area, Webster said.
“We just want it to be a place that sparks creativity and just inspires a new mode of thinking,” Webster said.
Future plans include displaying local artwork and becoming a stop on the Art Walks as well as offering in-store workshops, Webster said.
The store’s logo and website were designed by local artist Jemma Hostetler of Studio Sans Nom.
The Downtown location provides proximity to the UT art department, the Toledo Museum of Art and Toledo School for the Arts, Syrek said. It’s also convenient for the core group of artists who live, work and have studios Downtown.
“A lot of the smaller retail businesses are moving back Downtown,” Syrek said. “We felt like St. Clair Street was really the right neighborhood for us to do well.”
Their idea is testament to the possibilities of small business in Toledo, Syrek said.
“We wouldn’t be able to do this probably anywhere else the way we’re doing it here,” Syrek said. “We really believe in Toledo, we believe in Downtown. Small business is possible here and people should embark on their ventures if they choose to. It’s going to be an exciting week. It’s been a long time coming.”
For more information, visit the website www.artsupplydepo.com.