Originally published February 3, 2012 in The Commonwealth Times
Assistant News Editor
After 33 years of business, Main Art, a local art supply store, framing shop and gallery space located on the 1500 block of West Main, is closing its doors.
A combination of declining business and the retirement the two co-founders, Janet Decover and Rudi Weinbrenner, has brought about the end of the store. Co-owner Josh Aubry worked in the store for 16 years before becoming a partner. He attributes the internet and the economy to the store’s decline.
“What’s happening now is people are calling us for information and getting all of the knowledge that we have and ordering online,” he said. “If we’re not in here, we’re in our studio working. A lot of people would come to us for advice, because we have a working knowledge of most art supplies.”
Aubry said the internet changed the shop from a fine arts store into an art convenience store.
“When customers need something that day, they’ll come in and buy one or two things,” he said. “That won’t keep a business afloat, especially for a small business that doesn’t have the buying power.”
According to Aubry, Main Art owes their long run to the Richmond arts community, including VCU School of the Arts, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Visual Arts Center.
Members of the Richmond arts community have expressed their surprise in the store’s closing.
“It’s kind of a shock to hear that any art supply store around here would have to close. You’d think that with all the artists around, they would always have good business,” said Allison Smith, a VCU student.
Holly Morrison, interim chair of painting and printmaking at VCU’s School of the Arts, said Main Art is not only a quality store, but is also a key part of Richmond’s art scene.
“They have a remarkable selection of supplies, and with their gallery, they really contribute a lot to the local community,” she said.
Kevin Furbish, a VCUarts graduate with a degree in sculpture, used Main Art throughout his college career.
“Their best feature was the selection of canvas and paper. That was the only place I went for such things. The price was a little high, but they offered a discount to artists and students,” he said.
The store’s official closing date has not yet been announced. Aubry said he is not pressed to liquidate their inventory because as artists, they will find a use for the supplies after the store shuts down.
“We love our customers and we loved being here for years,” Aubry said. “The world is changing. The loyalty … is to wherever you can find something cheaper.”