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Artist & Craftsman Employee Stock Ownership Plan Information (ESOP)

I was blogging about things I love about living in San Francisco and wanted to sing the praises of this store, one of which is that it's worker-owned. I went to the site to confirm that, though, and find nothing about it. So, three questions: Is it true that the SF store is a worker-owned business? Is that the case of all of the stores, or just some? Why don't you have anything about this rare and attractive fact on your website?
Thanks, Amy


Dear Amy,
Thank you for your question.

It is true that we are an ‘ESOP’ company – hence the nomenclature ‘employee-owned’ that you will see on some of our signage and literature.  There are different variations of ‘ESOP’.  The plan that our company utilizes gives 49% ownership to our employees.  As it stands, the other 51% are under the guidance of the company’s founder and president, Larry Adlerstein.
The ‘ESOP’ applies to all of our 18 brick and mortar stores and all of our employees can maintain eligibility depending on factors like years of service, etc.
I appreciate your question and hope that this response amply defines what we currently do at Artist & Craftsman to maintain the creative spirit of our employees.
Tom Konieczko
Assistant General Manager
Artist & Craftsman Supply




Dear Amy,

Let me add to what Tom has said.
I started A&C in 1985 & it’s the only activity that I can say I’ve enjoyed every work day here.  But at the age of 69, I have to plan my succession.

For years, I looked at selling the business.  None of my children are interested but no buyer with the resources to purchase 18 stores would continue A&C in the spirit I’ve established, so every time I came close to a sale I would back off- always to the relief of the A&C staff.

Two years ago I’d started to sell the business to the people who have made it what it is today – the employees of Artist & Craftsman Supply.

The sale is complicated, but in a nutshell:

  1. The employees get some ownership at no cost to them.  It is paid for by profits from the business.
  2. The company gets some tax benefits because future profits will fund some employee retirements & that is a “retirement program” which supplements social security and is therefore worthy of a tax benefit.
  3. I get bought out & therefore I’ve “sold” my business to people who understand and agree with the spirit of A&C.


Win win win.

 - Larry Adlerstein
Founder & President
Artist & Craftsman Supply