“Demand for handmade work has always been there for us. It has always been important to me—and to my customers—to know where the work comes from and who makes it. I include an artist’s card with every item purchased, which describes the artist, their location and their process.”
What inspired you to start your business?
Maria Galloway: My husband and I were both doing the art show circuit (it is where we met). I was taking classes with an eye towards a business degree, with an arts emphasis, and the goal of starting a gallery – someday. Then I met a building owner by chance and he had a cheap retail space in a rundown part of the city. It was one of those crossroads moments and I grabbed the opportunity. That rundown part of the city is now called the Short North and is one of the premier arts and entertainment destinations in the Midwest, if not the country.
What’s the first thing someone would notice walking into your store?
Maria Galloway: Color. From the glass balls hanging in the window to the riotous paintings by local artists to the painted metal sculptures and the functional pottery.
Describe your merchandise mix:
Maria Galloway: We are 100% US and Canadian made, mostly individual artists and artisans and a few small studios. All of our fine art is local, the fine craft is coast to coast. We have a strong emphasis on small-to-medium blown glass and pottery, both functional and decorative, and jewelry. I like work that is different – that shows the hand of the artist. Work that is not too precious to use and that gives you pleasure.
Do you hold annual events and exhibitions?
Maria Galloway: The Short North has a “Gallery Hop” on the first Saturday of every month. We started it in 1984 and thirty years later it is still going strong. As part of the “Gallery Hop” we have artist receptions, usually with the artist in attendance. On Black Friday, we start our Holiday Hours which means we are open daily until 8 during the week and Saturday and until 6 on Sunday. As part of our local business association we are having a promotion that coincides with Small Business Saturday. I feel that a district-wide promotion gives us more exposure, especially since we are in an arts district.
Are you engaging your customers in a conversation about the Shop Local/ American Made movement?
Maria Galloway: I blog and use “American Made” in my advertising and frequently pontificate on Facebook. Those posts get me the most response from our followers, so I know I am hitting a chord.
Have you noticed an increase in customer demand for locally made and/or handmade merchandise?
Maria Galloway: Demand for handmade work has always been there for us. It has always been important to me—and to my customers—to know where the work comes from and who makes it. I include an artist’s card with every item purchased, which describes the artist, their location and their process. Many of my customers travel and they want to carry gifts that are American or locally made.
What makes your store stand out from other retailers in your area?
Maria Galloway: We are the oldest gallery in the area. There are other galleries that carry local and national artists, but our emphasis on function as well as aesthetic appeal makes us unique. We also are affordable.
What would you say is your key to longevity?
Maria Galloway: We are stubborn! We wanted this neighborhood to succeed and to be a part of something bigger and that happened. When we were forced to move to away from the southern core of the Short North we chose to see it as another opportunity to help expand the core of the Short North northward and to continue the tradition of a unique and slightly funky Short North. We have been in this new location for two years now and the neighborhood is showing signs of improvement on a daily basis. Our new space is more open and inviting than the old one – more natural light for one thing – and moving gave us a chance to fix all the things that weren’t working in the old space. Which is another key – flexibility and the ability to adapt to change.