Building on Community Support

What’s the buzzword among NICHE magazine’s 2011 Top Retailers? “Community.”

“Our goal is to strengthen the community,” says Meghan Blake-Horst, owner of Absolutely Art in Madison, Wis. “We felt a strong sense of community support,” reports Fransien Schuller and Terry Brown of Morganton, N.C.’s Kala Gallery. “It makes sense to be a part of the community,” declares Ingrid Brown, owner of The Villager in Auburn, Ala.

The galleries and craft retailers featured in the pages that follow promote American-made products, celebrate local artisans and improve their neighborhoods. They’re active in their communities: participating in arts walks, hosting social events and collaborating with other businesses in their areas. They’re hosting charity events to support a wide range of causes. They’re also providing their towns with just plain fun—girls’ nights out, live music and wine-and-cheese events.

This year, NICHE magazine also honors two nonprofit organizations and a U.S. senator for making a difference in the American art and crafts community itself. Whether through political action, connecting networks of galleries or by helping artisans market their products, they’re all working to promote handmade craft.

Our 2011 Retailer of the Year is the Don Muller Gallery in Northampton, Mass. The gallery has been a mainstay of Northampton’s art scene for more than 30 years, and Don Muller’s vision and dedication to American-made art have kept the gallery prospering even through a challenging economy.

Success Is No Secret Here
For more than 30 years, the Don Muller Gallery has thrived on a combination of vision and hard work.

Winning by Doing
The 2011 Top Retailers and Honor Award Recipients all have one thing in common: they’re “doers.”

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