Catskill Art & Office Supply, located at 328 Wall Street, has been an anchor of the Uptown shopping district for 24 years and currently has eight employees. “We offer quality products and services at a good price,” said manager Nick Peluso. (Owner Paul Solis-Cohen also operates two stores in Woodstock and Poughkeepsie.)You can easily spend an hour browsing the fine art and graphic art materials, canvas (raw and pre-stretched, in a variety of sizes), gift cards, boxed notes, personal stationery, calendars, instructional art books, and studio furniture (including drawing tables, lamps, and easels). Framer Ginny Ballard, a 16-year veteran of the store, has won a following for her custom framing. There’s also a custom printing division, which includes banners, business cards and laminating, according to Peluso.
Even compared with the chain office supply stores, “our prices are pretty reasonable,” said Peluso. Xeroxes are 10 cents for a single copy, four cents for 100 copies. “We’re competitive in all those areas. Our copy paper is cheaper and our inkjet cartridges are in some cases $1 more and $1 less” that those sold in the big box stores. Catskill Art also runs frequent specials, with a sale on canvas the next couple of weeks. In addition, it offers a 20 percent discount to art students and professional artists. You can get an additional 10 percent off if you sign up for the custom rewards program ($10 coupon with every $100 purchased).
What’s the advantage of shopping at Catskill Art over buying on-line? “Experiencing the product firsthand and being able to ask someone for advice,” according to Peluso. Open Monday through Friday from 9-5:30 and Saturday from 9-5.
Artcraft Camera & Digital, located at 300 Plaza Road, in Kingston Plaza, has been in the same family since 1972, when it was purchased by owner Todd Fitzgerald’s father. It now has a sister store in Poughkeepsie, with a total of 18 employees. The store sells four lines of cameras, both digital and film, along with darkroom supplies and accessories including flashes, filters and bags. The store’s custom framing division does laminating as well as large-format printing (digital and other) and DVD and CD duplication services (it can also transfer 8 mm film to DVDs). Fitzgerald said Artcraft also has a custom framing division, which is presided over by Elaine Bragg, who has 26 years of experience.
Fitzgerald said the store does a brisk trade in scanning slides, negatives, and photos digitally, with some people bringing in shoeboxes full of photos that are “scanned in a clip.” Artcraft also has an archiving service to organize all those photos. One growing line of business is creating a DVD, collage, special photo book or 23 x 54 framed image for “Celebration of Life” services when a person dies. The store also can produce registration books, with the photos positioned on the left hand side and a place for signatures on the right.
Perhaps the fastest growing segment of the business is gifting, in which personal photos are transferred onto mugs, puzzles, T-shirts, and blankets. Most of the photo gifts cost under $40, with a mug starting at $8. Fitzgerald said the store will soon be expanding into printing on dozens of types of textiles, ranging from shower curtains to scarves, as well as glasswork, aluminum and tin. “You won’t buy art at Target, but have your history and family tree printed on the shower curtain, your linens, a pillow,” said Fitzgerald, noting that the store will also print personal photos on a stretched canvas. “Photo décor is where it’s going.”
Fitzgerald said one advantage of shopping at Artcraft is the employee’s expertise. “You may find cheap cameras at Target, but you won’t find the service.” Plus, no one’s trying to rush customers who come in with a box of photos commemorating a loved one. “When you walk in here, you can sit in one of our chairs for two hours,” said Fitzgerald. “We have compassion for your memories. It’s not just about your photos.” Open Monday-Friday from 9 to 6, Saturday from 10 to 5, and Sunday from 11 to 4.
R&F Handmade Paints, located at 84 Ten Broeck Avenue, is the industry leader for encaustics, the wax-based paints that were used by the Egyptians thousands of years ago and which founder Richard Frumess helped popularize as a viable medium for contemporary artists. Located in Kingston since the mid 1990s, the business also manufactures oil sticks, and—perhaps not widely known–has a store on the premises that sells a full line of materials for painters, including brushes, Williamsburg oil paint (which is manufactured in upstate New York), canvas, and palettes, in addition to its paints and oil sticks.
R&F also sells artists’ supplies on-line, but the prices in the store are 15 percent less, said director of operations Darin Sein. It sells items in bulk: while linseed oil, for example, is sold in expensive pints at most art supply stores, R&F sells it by the gallon. The store also carries a high-grade, sweet-smelling turpentine (“we spent a long time researching this to find it,” according to Sein). Of course, it also sells a full line of equipment for encaustic painters, including hand-assembled heated palettes and heat guns, torches and electrically heated tools.
The store features holiday and back-to-school sales, said Sein. Besides its three- and five-day workshops, it also offers one-day workshops that are popular with residents, including an encaustic class from noon to four every third Saturday (cost is $40). R&F also runs a gallery, which shows works by distinguished artists in both encaustic and oil. The store is open Monday through Friday from 9-5 and Saturday from 10-5.