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A Brief History of A&C – Cambridge

Friday, Jul 26, 2013

Posted By Larry Adlerstein

A Brief History of Artist & Craftsman Supply



Cambridge, MA, established 2003

By Larry Adlerstein, Founder & President of A&C


In the fall of 2003 I decided to look closer to home for store sites. Boston was an obvious look at.


So I drove the two hours down to Boston and started by visiting Pearl Paint—the big guy at the time. Pearl was located in Central Square, Cambridge, across the Charles River from downtown Boston.


In retrospect, Pearl had already started their decline that has, at this date, resulted in bankruptcy and the closing of most stores, including their Cambridge location.


Well, after our brief survey of Pearl back in 2003 I decided to open in Cambridge and there, right across the street, was a for-rent sign.


It was a basement which has served us well for many years. Generally our relationship with our neighbor Pearl went well until on a Saturday morning there was a commercially printed sign posted across our front entrance.


“Vagrants welcome, plenty of toilet paper downstairs.”


Robert Pearlmutter personally wrote me a letter of apology.




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Jeff and Rob, the Cambridge crew.

Monday, Sep 22, 2008

Posted By Larry Adlerstein

First there was Rob.

I don’t remember how I met Rob. I was opening our first store in Boston and I believe he simply answered my help wanted ad. He was quiet and it took a few months to discern who he was.

The store had a slow start, located in a basement across the street from Pearl Paint – then the dominant player in our trade. But Rob in his gentle way won over artist after artist and built a solid business.

One day Rob came to me to say he and his wife Jamie wanted to buy a home and they couldn’t afford Boston housing. They wanted to move to Philly. O.K. We’ll open a new store in Philly.

Enter Jeff. Jeff had always been there as assistant manager but I knew little about Jeff.

After Rob went south Jeff stumbled around for a little while and then that thing happened: that thing that sometimes happens when the lid is off and an assistant has to become master. It happened to Jeff. So now I have two great managers.

The other day he came to me with an invitation, “come to Boston.”

“You visit the stores when there are troubles or problems. Why don’t you visit when things are good? We’d like to get to know you better.”

So I did. Even this old dog can learn from Jeff.

-Larry Adlerstein

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