Friday, August 5, 2011

The big sale

Yesterday was the first day of the big sale at our local art supply store, which is closing one of its locations and getting rid of everything, including the shelves.  We got there a few minutes before the doors opened and by a quarter after, the store was so crowded you could barely turn around.  People who had picked up a big tablet of drawing paper or some stretched canvases were in danger of knocking other people over if they turned incautiously.  Had one-tenth of these people regularly showed up to buy things, the store probably wouldn't be closing.

I hadn't thought I needed much, but found all kinds of goodies as I went around the store.  Watercolor paper, press-on type, canvases, a pointed Japanese brush, Sumi ink, walnut ink, india ink, Dye-na-flow ink.  I think this shopping trip may be a message from the art gods telling me to work on calligraphy for a while instead of quilts.

Lots of art teachers in the crowd; even if you didn't know them, you could tell because they were buying construction paper and crayons as well as tempera paint in very large bottles.  A surprising number of easels were going out the door, and practically everybody picked up a couple of pens and a sketchbook as the long checkout lines approached the counter past the small-stuff shelves.

It's always sad when a beloved store goes out of business; at least this one will still have a large store on the other side of town, actually within walking distance for me (as long as I don't buy too much stuff to shlep home). 

A couple of years ago our world's greatest fabric store went out of business totally, dead as a doornail.  Their going-out-of-business sale lasted for weeks, with the remaining stuff getting cheaper and cheaper.  I went back a couple of times to pick over the carcass, each time getting more and more melancholy to see the stock shrinking, the few remaining bolts moved forlornly into one corner of the showroom, the salesclerks tired and grim. 

The store still sits there, signs and window cards intact, without a tenant, mocking us as we drive by.  How many times have we fabric aficionadas known exactly where to find exactly what we need -- and then realized Baer's isn't there any more.  I guess you can find anything you need on the internet, but how about the things you don't know you need until you see them?  And how about the things you don't know if you need until you feel the goods?

Some of the things I bought yesterday were like that.  The checkout line stalled for a while as I was in front of the small drawing tablets.  I saw a couple of tiny pads for $1.57 each.  My first thought was that they were absolutely darling.  My second thought was that I wouldn't do anything with them if I bought them.  The line didn't move.  My third thought was of a daily art project that I could do in just that size of page.  Maybe I'll start on that one tomorrow.


  1. Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I buy fabric or thread on the internet that just isn't suitable when it arrives. The quilt store in town with the fabric I liked closed several years ago, so I can't see the colors or the fabric quality before I buy, and I have made some bad mistakes.
    On working in calligraphy for a while... cross training this summer in watercolor painting seems to have helped me with quilting, particularly in color choices, color layering, and loosening up. The little bound watercolor book I bought on sale years ago has helped me alot in trying new ideas.
    -Connie in Alabama

  2. Baer's....[weeps quietly]

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  3. I know, I know. I'm with you Mary Anne. I tried to stop in to Baer's one night before a meeting when I drove over to Louisville, got up to the doors and saw that it was empty. I remember standing there in front of the store thinking, you can't be closed I just moved here. I tried to give the woman near my aunt's house in Cairo Kentucky all of my business too but she sadly went out of business. I told her I felt bad coming back in at the end for the discounts. She told me to buy up whatever I wanted, that she'd rather see it go to a friend and customer. That was two fabric/quilt store closin's back to back there. With no one to support I'm currently upcycling some fabric. Where should we go in Louisville? I was also one of those people who showed up to St. Theresa's fabric store in Cincy when it went out of business and got some kick-ass deals, including some ridiculously cheap beads. They were right up there by the cash register and, well, I do hoard beads as a sort of hobby...

  4. I agree; it's important to buy from the little guys. For some things, the $$ saved are big enough to go to the big chains - but after my Michael's purchase Friday, I stopped by the local art store for a different set of colored pencils for DD, a watercolor brush, a new sketchbook and pen.