Mikel Elam (Photo by Joseph Persichetti)

Mikel Elam (Photo by Joseph Persichetti)

by Joseph Persichetti

A new arts and crafts supply store is scheduled to open this week at 7926A Germantown Ave.

The store, The Artist and Craftsman, is an arts and crafts supply chain that was originally started by Larry Alderstein and is based in Portland, Maine. Alderstein wanted to cater not only to the professional and amateur artist but to the creative mind as well. There was almost instant success and, after 10 years in Maine, the firm expanded into Seattle.

At first, the expansion posed a significant challenge to manage from the East Coast of the country. After 30 years in business, however, the company now has expanded across the United States, with the one in Chestnut Hill being one of the most recent additions.

The Chestnut Hill Local interviewed store manager Mikel Elam.

“We could’ve gone to West Philadelphia, which is where there is a huge market as well because a lot of schools are out there,” Elam said, “But when we looked at the Germantown Avenue area it was so beautiful, the space was great, and we knew that we had a bunch of working artists and creative types just living in the area.”

The Artist and Craftsman is a unique supply store, and customers can instantly feel that through the way the shop is laid out and the creativity of its design.

“We carry crafts but we also have a great array of kids creative toys, learning tools.” Elam said. We cater to teachers, and it’s more than just art supplies for the budding or the professional artists.”

There is paint of all kinds splattered on the walls, and the floor is a myriad of different colors. It has the look and feel of a provide-everything-under-the-sun art supply store, but the most unique feature is that the store is employee-owned.

“The store is set up that once you’re here for a year or two you’re able to actually become a part-owner of the store,” Elam said. “It makes everyone feel that he [Larry] cares about his employees.”

The employees at the store are also uniquely qualified within the numerous artistic and creative fields and can answer most of the questions that the budding artist or even professional might have.

“The employees here are super qualified.” Elam said. “That’s one of our pet peeves. We try to find working artists who are interested in working with us because they can bring life to the products that they use.

“No one person is completely knowledgeable in every single thing because part of it is that you have to use these things to know them. Most of the artists know at least three different mediums to work in. Also, what we don’t know, we can access very quickly.”

In regards to its products, the Artist and Craftsman carries all of the conventional arts and crafts commodities and more.

“We have oil paints, acrylic paints, sculpture supplies, print-making supplies, watercolors, everything for drawing.” Elam said. “Even for the architectural drafts person, we have materials for them. We have things for the crafts person like jewelry, knitting and crocheting supplies. For the kids, we have paper mâché shapes that they can create their own paintings from. We have unique decorative papers from India – all different kinds of papers, Montana spray paint. The list goes on and on.”

The official opening is scheduled for April 1.

For more information go to www.artistcraftsman.com.

  • Stacia Friedman

    So excited to have this creative resource in our neighborhood!