Sunday, July 13, 2008
McCallister's Art Store is closing its doors. I've had a fifty-year association with the store, originally called Ken McCallister's. When we returned from France, my husband's mother sent me there to have some pictures framed, which was the principal business of the relatively new store. Off to the side was an area that displayed art supplies, but I didn't have any need for them then. Nearly everything I have on my walls was framed at McCallister's. When I began to paint in 1970, I bought my supplies and frames there. Ken expanded and built a new building next door and later on, the older one was retrofitted for workshops. The current owner, George Bussinger, was just a kid when he started working with his father and Ken McCallister at the store. George has always been an enthusiastic supporter of the arts in the area, donating supplies and gift certificates for exhibitions and giving discounts to students. He served on the board for many years and as chairman of the National Art Materials Trade Association and is highly thought of in the industry. It saddens me to see this happen. A combination of factors contributed to George's decision to liquidate. Even though his store has been the best in the tri-state area for many years--and a real candy-store to artists who love to browse among paints and palettes--the advent of big-box craft stores and online art retailers hit most independent stores hard. McCallister's had another disadvantage, a result of Ken's decision to expand on his site rather than moving to a locale more friendly to his clientele. And now, with soaring gas prices, artists are reluctant to go across town on an impulse to browse and buy art supplies. George hasn't decided what he'll do next, but he has several options and I do wish him the best. Starting this week, everything in the store is on sale at 25% off and bigger cuts are coming as the inventory is sold down.