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Store Next Door: Muse Art and Design

Portland crafts store an 'information resource' 

By Ana Olvera | Special to Party & Paper Retailer

Independent retail stores have often become staples in their communities — whether it’s due to engaging displays, recognizable staff or unique products.

Peter Rossing, founder and owner of Muse Art and Design in Portland, Oregon, strives to foster an environment that sets his store as an information resource in his community.

“Most people think of an art materials store as the ‘arts & crafts’ store, not as someplace you can actually learn about new things and come away with information to help you be a better artist,” Rossing said. “I look at a well-run independent supply store as kind of one of the last keepers of knowledge when it comes to techniques and materials.

“(Independent art supply stores) are the people who use the materials and who really have to research them to know them and have an interest in being that resource. That’s what we still try to be because the chain stores don’t care about that.”

Hosting workshops or events can help you bring customers into your party store, but the right planning is necessary to ensure a successful event, and one that will benefit your customers and your store.

“We place a big emphasis on being a resource for information about art materials and techniques, but we are a retail store, so if events don't ultimately lead to customers who purchase from us, it doesn't make them sustainable,” Rossing said.

Muse hosts demonstrations, informational lectures and artist talks along with its workshops. For some retailers, “events are just a big thing to get people in the door and get a buzz going,” Rossing said.

“It's easy to come up with fun and catchy event ideas that bring in lots of people who you'll never see again,” he said. “The most successful events we've done might only attract a very small group who are really interested and committed to learning about the area we're experts in, and those are the people who are going to appreciate most how we are different from other stores. They're the ones who will keep coming back.”

Originally posted Thursday, Jun. 30, 2016

Tags: store next door