Posted in GRD, the world around us, tools of the trade by hemmant jha on February 21, 2010

The World’s Largest Discount Art Supplier : Pearl.

In recent memory, I have not seen an art supply store as crowded and charged with activity as when it is on it’s last throes – a clearance sale, going out of business with everything marked way down to help clear shelves. The timing of the shutdown of a major art supply store seems strange. Not quite as enthralled with the virtual and the web anymore, folks are looking to get back to doing things with their hands – making real stuff. When last has scrapbooking seen healthier numbers, or knitting, or quilting?

Pearl was the very first art supply store I went to in the US, out on Canal St., NYC. Therefore, it was with much surprise and sadness that I visited the Chicago outpost of the chain as it prepared to shut down permanently. It seemed a strange time for this to have happened – after all, Blick Art Supply is doing quite well.

While their ingredients are the same, Pearl and Blick communicate differently – Pearl is ‘the world’s largest discount art supplier‘, which will sell you all manner of materials, while Blick is ‘the kind of company that cares about artists and what they care about‘. Both discount heavily, but while one sells paint, the other supports aspirations, nurtures talent and creativity, makes you feel good.

I hope Pearl figures it out – it’s a fairly straightforward but rigorous exercise in shifting focus and branding. I’d like to see them thrive.

Below are images taken on the last two days of this Pearl store. It will be missed.


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