Artist & Craftsman Supply
34-09 Queens Boulevard | Artist & Craftsman Supply
Artist & Craftsman Supply was founded in 1985 as a small upstart art supply in the Portland, Maine area. At the time, the retail landscape of art materials was dominated by independent “Mom & Pop” storefronts that were often a mix of stationery, hardware, and office supplies. Catalog companies were also a major player as the internet was in its infancy as a commercial platform. A&C carved out its little corner in northern New England. The early years of A&C included segues into wholesale distribution, light manufacturing, sign supplies, architectural finishes (aka house paint) and exclusive importation and distribution of a boutique European oil paint. None of these partner businesses were particularly successful except for the oil paint distribution and all were eventually abandoned in an effort to refocus on retail. As the mid-nineties approached, consolidation in the manufacturing and distribution of art materials began to infiltrate an otherwise largely cottage industry. The bigger players (with bigger wallets) in the office supply, stationery and hardware trades began to dominate and overwhelm the small, independent retailers. It was then time for A&C to get bigger or get pushed out. A&C began its expansion in the mid-nineties and continued incrementally adding stores, here and there, over the next several years. The early years of expansion were exceptionally difficult as, there was no expertise in developing remote locations, no meaningful company infrastructure, no market research, no advertising campaigns and no cohesive long-term business plan. The saving grace was A&C’s ability to connect with artists and stir excitement for the underdog. Over time, and after learning from a lot of mistakes, A&C began to hit its stride and count more successes than failures. By the early 2000’s, the A&C model gained refinement and growth into areas such as children’s art and school supplies, eclectic and novelty goods and other non-traditional fine art related materials. This refinement and growth began to shape the A&C you see today. A&C was becoming not only a credible source for high-quality fine art materials but a destination for the novice, student, hobbyist and just about anyone looking for something unusual or just plain fun. In 2009, A&C’s founder and then President, Larry Adlerstein, sold 48% of Artist & Craftsman Supply to its employees. Thus, the Artist & Craftsman Supply Employee Stock Ownership Plan Trust (ESOP) was formed. The next seven years saw significant expansion for A&C. By the fall of 2016, a total of 34 brick and mortar locations, as well as an online store, had been created. On December 30, 2016, A&C acquired the remaining shares of the company from the founder and became a 100% Employee-Owned Company. Today, A&C stands as one of the largest art material suppliers in the United States. Our goal is to continue to shape our company as a vital resource in the support of the creative spirit. As employee-owners or those soon to be, there is immeasurable satisfaction and opportunity ahead. There is work to be done and challenges to be met, but together as a family of employee owners, we are only limited by the boundaries of our imagination. A&C is proud to be a Maine-based company and equally as proud to be ‘local’ to over 30 communities nationwide and those who join us online.
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