The Art Shop in "Art World News"



Dealers Parlay the Stay-at-home Trend into Art Sales

THE ART SHOPConsistently strong residential real estate sales and overall increases in home furnishings purchases give credence to the theory that people are investing more in their homes. Many art dealers have seen this trend manifesting itself with increased art and framing sales, as consumers have reorganized their priorities, placing their homes at the top of their lists.

French and Italian landscape scenes have been selling well at The Art Shop in Greensboro, North Carolina. "I liken it to people not traveling internationally as much, and therefore buying pieces which show where they've been - or would like to be," says manager Andy McAfee.

Notably, limited edition prints of images by Sam Park, Leonard Wren and Viktor Shvaiko have been on the rise, as have Thomas Kinkade's nostalgia prints and studio proofs offered by the Thomas Kinkade Gallery, a Signature Gallery adjoining The Art Shop. (Both galleries share ownership and management). The popularity of these images, surmises Mr. McAfee, is due to a desire to identify with a simpler, safer time.

Limited edition print sales far exceed those of originals, as their affordability allows customers to purchase multiple pieces. The Art Shop also sells the original and limited edition artwork of Sabzi, Royo, Francois Fressinier, Willi Kissmer, Eng Tay, Hessam, Oleg Zhivetin, and the sculpture of Leon Bronstein. Between both The Art Shop and the Kinkade Gallery, sales average between $350 and $1000 per ticket.

Overall, Greensboro tourism hasn't been greatly affected since the majority of people vacationing in North Carolina travel by car. A college town and frequent stop on the way to beaches and the outer banks, local tourism has been additionally strengthened by temperate weather. Summer vacation bookings are strong and on par with past years.

"Tourist traffic definitely adds to our business," says Mr. McAfee, noting it as the foremost reason the gallery placed a billboard on Interstate 40 featuring Thomas Kinkade. "People definitely stop," he says, surmising much of the cause is due to Kinkade's recognizable brand name with nationwide appeal. "The benefit of having the two galleries side by side is the crossover, inevitably customers in the Kinkade Gallery wander into The Art Shop and often made additional purchases."

Increased Marketing and Advertising

If you stopped advertising six months ago you're probably hurting now," says Mr. McAfee. "Galleries that have done the marketing and the work through the recession will reap the rewards." Both The Art Shop and Kinkade Gallery feature aggressive marketing and advertising campaigns, and host, between both galleries, at least one show per month.

At press time, The Art Shop sales for the year are up 10% over last year, and Kinkade Gallery sales of fine art and collectibles are up 38%. "The trick is to do more advertising when things are tough, but you have to get creative."

Both galleries utilize co-op advertising opportunities offered by such publishers as Collectors Editions, Triad Art Group Publishing, and Media Arts Group, and can thus afford to run ads in Architectural Digest and Art and Antiques. He also increased the number of ads running in the local newspaper from five to six per week, as the cost was actually less expensive for running more.

Additionally, during the holiday season, Mr. McAfee set up a kiosk at the local mall featuring Kinkade collectibles. He passed out flyers and maps touting the galleries' location, and in the following months saw a substantial increase in Kinkade art purchases.