If Dave Bart is not pricing stock when a customer walks into Jerry’s Artarama then he could be unloading trucks or hosting a local art event. The 54-year-old store manager describes himself as an octopus that reaches out beyond the discount art-supply store.
Besides donating easels, brushes or frames to the Creative Vision Factory, which provides therapy through art, the shop hosts or helps advertise local festivals, events, and programs, like the People’s Festival, the Unity Rally at the Jewish Community Center, and Wilmington’s monthly Art Loop.
“We are growing and will continue to grow as the city matures,” said the University of Delaware graduate, who grew up in the state. “I was here before the Blue Rocks Stadium was built and before the Riverfront transformed from oil tanks and brown fields.’’
In 2013 Jerry’s Artarama opened on Market Street. It is part of a specialty art-supply chain founded in 1968 by Jerry Goldstein. There are sixteen stores nationwide. The Delaware location is the only art-supply store in the downtown area. Its customers range from beginners to well known artists. A portion of the shop’s business comes from the sale of art kits to Delaware College of Art and Design students.
Art students and professional artists work at Jerry’s. Donna Cusano, 51, an award-winning artist and Jerry’s assistant manager, says she uses her skills on the job every day. If a customer is not sure which paintbrush to buy, she is there to help. “It depends on what the customer’s goals and priorities are,” said Cusano.
The store is open seven days a week. It offers live and online demonstrations and promotions as well as professional framing and shipping. “If we promise you something, we’ll give it to you,” said Bart. “If we don’t have it we’ll order it.”
By Adriana Camacho-Church ACCpen1@gmail.com
Downtown Visions Contributing Writer