Why People Suck Harder Than One Art Supply Store
Is there something wrong with the fact that I live in an artist community…with only one art store? People seem to think so. What? You’re the only art store here?? I happen to work in this small, locally-owned art supply store, and it’s a question I receive with double question marks and an incredulous tone, as if customers can barely believe it’s true.
I admit, it is a bit strange. I mean, how do all these artists that live here get their “art supply on”? The sad truth is, we’re in competition with the likes of Dick Blick and Michael’s. Hell, we’re all in competition with the Dick Blicks and Michael’s stores of the world – with Amazon and Barnes & Noble (although those two got smart and tag-teamed us so we don’t even know the difference anymore). Seems fitting, doesn’t it? It is the digital, information age after all.
Yep, it’s the digital, information age and in order to make the transformation complete, brick-and-mortar stores and businesses must crumble. We’ve already seen it happen with Borders and comic books stores, and CD stores across the country. The world has slowly become a reality where this new mindset thrives, this creeping undercurrent of, “Who’s next?” People see their favorite small and not-so-small shops as the price to be paid for this emerging new world. Yet there are still people out there ready to complain when it comes to keeping these small businesses alive. “I’m not paying that much for a book!” or “Paint at that price is ridiculous!” is a surefire way to put any small business to death. Or the best one, yet: “At Wal-Mart, so-and-so is…”. (I know, real shitty, right?)
Hey, small stores may not be perfect, but we have QUALITY product. There’s also that little thing called service. The last time I walked into Michael’s, an employee couldn’t help me find charcoal. Charcoal!! The kicker is, it wasn’t even her fault, Michael’s is not an art supply store. Michael’s is a CRAFT STORE. It’s like walking into Dairy Queen and asking for gummy bears in your ice cream (true story). People. You are asking a platypus to be a duck.
We cannot expect the small stores to always be there for us, to remain open and in business, so long as we continue to find alternate places to shop. It may very well be a modern truth that the “good ol’ days” are slowly disappearing, but only so far as we’re willing to let them. We can’t deny that the Internet and big chains are strong competitors. But if the world has to change, it’s becoming even more important to put your money where your mouth is. Support who you’d like to stick around. Or at the very least, don’t be too surprised when you turn around tomorrow and they’re gone for good.
Tanya Marcy loves to work with emerging and independent artists to market their projects and reach their ideal audience. She blogs at stickTnotes, where she shares her ideas about being a creative artist in today’s changing world. You can find her own art at deviantART and sample her writing at Figment