Our Story - About Artist & Craftsman Supply
Why is A&C the fastest growing art supply store in the US of A?
Because of our people.
From our owners to our clerks (actually they are the same people, as Artist & Craftsman Supply is employee-owned) our people know art materials and really care.
We get 25 of our managers together twice a year to become more educated, renew friendships, and drink a little beer, wine, and the occasional Moxie. You'll sense how our people enjoy working here. That's what makes A&C a great place to shop.
"I opened Artist & Craftsman’s first store in July 1985 because I was going to get even. My girlfriend worked for an art supply and the owner unjustifiably accused her of stealing. Leah was upset and I was pissed.
At the time I was a small time building contractor who bought old structures in Maine, fixed them up and sold them. I earned little more than minimum wage but also was such a lousy bookkeeper, I didn't realize how unsuccessful I was.
One of the fixer uppers was vacant so I started an art supply in the small town of Yarmouth. I was going to get even. Leah picked the name Artist & Craftsman Supply. I didn’t really care about the name.
Vengeance is a poor reason to start a business, but that’s the way it was.
We were one store for about 10 years. Artist & Craftsman moved to Portland and I was content to make my living locally. Then Sanford, the Sharpie marker people, bought two pencil makers: Berol & Eberhardt/Faber. The little art supply industry was beginning to attract big money.
So I figured that to survive I had to grow.
Our second store was in Seattle. That was a difficult learning experience. As an east coaster I had to learn how to speak Seattlease (every paragraph should begin with a “please” or/and end with a “thank you”). This new language hasn’t hurt me but it took a full year for me to become proficient.
Learning how to manage a store 3000 miles away in a foreign country was difficult. At one point I almost gave up and sold Seattle to a competitor, Utrecht Art Supply, but a Chinese fortune cookie advised against that proposed sale. I take fortune cookies seriously.
25 years after Leah named the first Artist & Craftsman Supply, we have 19 stores in 13 different states. It’s been a fun ride, and I’m looking forward to what comes next."
A Brief History of Artist & Craftsman - Store by Store