Quality art supplies for professionals, students, children, and crafters since 1985

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Our Story - About Artist & Craftsman Supply

Portland, Maine

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."

~Larry Adlerstein

 

A Brief History of Artist & Craftsman - Store by Store

 

Seattle, WA

 

Charleston, SC

 

Cambridge, MA

 

Philadelphia, PA

 

Baltimore, MD