BY LINDSAY MYERS — You don’t need to be an artist to appreciate the zany new art supply store at 4902 43rd Avenue, Artist & Craftsman Supply. One visit will leave you itching to flip open your high school sketchbook.
Tightly packed shelves of silly socks, windup toys, and puzzles crowd the entryway. The entire left-hand wall is covered in multicolored reams of pressed paper 12 feet high. In fact, color is everywhere. The concrete walls and floors are covered in messy swirls of every slice on the color wheel. It is a bit like walking into a tie-dye tee shirt, or better yet, as local customer Donna Compton described, “It’s like walking into a rainbow.”
The Hyattsville branch of Artist & Craftsman Supply opened on April 1, and has been making quite the splash on social media. Store manager James Wine confessed that he has not had to do much in the way of advertising.
“So many people have been sharing photos on Facebook, and since I haven’t really left the store since I got here, it’s been a blessing,” said Wine.
The store is certainly photo-worthy. Lining the shelves are hundreds of fine art and general craft supplies, as well as a treasure trove of funky gadgets and toys. The store carries everything from oil paints and papier-mâché to skeins of yarn and windup dolls. Wine said the diverse inventory is what sets Artist & Craftsman Supply apart from other art supply stores. Places like Michaels or Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts, Wine said, usually carry inventory heavy on the craft end and do not offer individualized customer service, making it difficult for artists to find what they need.
Artist & Craftsman Supply circumvents these problems by tailoring its inventory to the needs of the local community and by hiring passionate employees trained to help customers find exactly what they need. Local Northwestern High School student and store clerk, Harper Matsuiama said, “We make it our duty to do our best for our customers. We put them above everything else.”
Both Matsuiama and Wine are artists themselves, a common trait amongst Artist & Craftsman Supply employees, but not a required one. Rather, Wine said, the company is looking for customer- and community-oriented people who care about their jobs.
Started in 1985, Artist & Craftsman Supply is an employee-owned company, which “basically means that the longer you’re here, the more shares you have in the company,” said Wine. With almost 49 percent of the company owned by employees, each store is able to reflect the spirit of the local community, making Hyattsville’s Artist & Craftsman Supply a blank canvas.
Wine is passionate about catering to nonprofits, local guilds, and schools. “I just want to get really involved in the community. There are a lot of teachers and artists in this area, and they all have their own particular wants and needs, so I’m hoping I can get those things in the store and make their lives a little easier,” he said.
The new Artist & Craftsman Supply store is conveniently nestled in the southern corner of the Arts District, a location that Wine suspects was intentionally chosen by the company’s president Larry Alderstein for just that reason. With several new community art projects in the works — like a possible outdoor mural — Artist & Craftsman Supply is sure to have lots of opportunities to add a little color to the Route 1 Corridor.