The old local art dealership will reopen under new ownership in the new year.
Blick Art Materials has bought Brentwood-based Artmart and will close the store for renovations on February 1st. Artmart will reopen as Blick in the spring, while Blick’s current location in University City will be closed permanently.
This acquisition marks the end of Artmart’s 70-year history in St. Louis. Artist Jim Harmon founded the store in 1952. The current owner of the store, Keith Beizer, took over 40 years ago.
“It was a great run,” Beizer tells RFT. “I think we’ve been able to contribute a lot to the community.”
Beiser, a self-described “old-fashioned salesman,” says he will miss the St. Louis arts community he has come to know and love. But after four decades, he says, “it’s time to move on to other things.” Currently, he runs several small businesses in parallel, is engaged in the art of turning wood and building furniture.
Although the end of Artmart is bittersweet, Beizer is confident that Bleek will keep the spirit of Artmart alive. The chain is one of the largest suppliers of art supplies in the US with more than 60 stores. According to his website, Blick has been in the same family for three generations.
“They act like a family business,” Beiser says. “Everyone who came to town and dealt with my people was very pleasant.”
The current employees of Artmart will retain their jobs. Once the Blick acquisition goes into effect on January 31, Artmart employees will be working at the Blick store in Delmar Loop, Beiser said. They will then move to the new Blick in the former Artmart premises after renovations are completed in the spring.
“We are very excited about this opportunity and excited to invest in the new Artmart location,” Blick CEO Bob Buxbaum said in a statement to RFT. “We are proud to invest in the arts community and fully expect the ‘new’ location to be the finest selection, service and price art store St. Louis has ever seen.”
On Wednesday, several Artmart shelves were already empty, and customers were queuing with hands full of products.
Over the years, Artmart has become a go-to store for many St. Louis artists due to its wide selection of art supplies, whimsical gifts, and its own frame center (which Blick will continue to operate). But mostly, according to Beiser, people went to Artmart because they wanted to shop at local stores.
It is difficult for the national network to build relationships, he said, as Beizer and his staff have had over the past four decades. Therefore, he understands why some people are upset, but encourages them not to worry.
“Blick is great, but they won’t have an owner in the building or in the community, that’s the main difference,” Beiser says. “However, their store will be incredible – they will have more art than you can imagine. They are very good at what they do.”
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