Expanding Its Reach

Ben Philips is confident in the power of e-commerce. In fact, a quick glance at the seven- year marketing plan he created for his newly purchased Crimson Laurel Gallery in Bakersville, N.C., reveals his calculation that 80% of its 2020 revenues will be generated by online sales. The longtime business executive and entrepreneur, who’s bought, started, grown and sold a variety of businesses throughout his career, is excited about those possibilities, not only for himself but for the artists he represents.

21st Century Reboot

Gallery owners who usually have “Jingle Bells” stuck in their minds at this time of year are getting used to a different refrain from Bob Dylan: “The times, they are a-changin’.”
The world of retail—older customers aging into retirement, younger customers difficult to pin down, fewer print-ad options, an ever-present Internet and general uneasiness with the economy—is in flux. Yet some shops are thriving. How? By changing merchandise and price points, adjusting store hours to better accommodate clientele, adding websites and web shopping, and listening to or hiring younger talent.

Recognizing Excellence in Fine Craft

NICHE magazine is proud to announce the finalists in the professional division of the 2014 NICHE Awards. The awards program, begun in 1989, celebrates excellence and innovation in American and Canadian fine craft.
In the professional division, a team of judges representing gallery owners, craft industry experts, and guild and museum directors selected 174 finalists out of nearly 1,000 entries in 35 categories representing a variety of mediums. Each entry was considered for technical excellence, both in surface design and form; market viability; and innovation, defined as a distinct quality of unique, original and creative thought.

Editor’s Letter: Power to Specialty Stores

It’s the day before Thanksgiving as I write this, and thanks to revisions in NICHE magazine’s publishing schedule and the Buyers Market of American Craft’s new January winter show dates, it’s the first time ever that I’ve been able to wish all our readers a successful holiday selling season just as it kicks into gear.
For many retailers, December is make-or-break time, and as we already reported in our Summer issue, really smart gallery owners will start making advance plans for next year’s biggest shopping season this year on Dec. 26.

Artist Profile: Patti Dowse

For Patti Dowse, founder of Erda Leather, happiness can be found in a piece of American deerskin or recycled fabric. And for the past 40 years, this exuberance has come through in every one of her funky, distinctive handbags.
Originally a science illustrator, Dowse bought her first piece of leather during a lunch break while working in New York City. Inspired to make herself a handbag, the self-taught artist was immediately hooked. “When another woman asked me to make one for her, I couldn’t wait to get started,” she remembers. She opened Erda Leather in 1971.

Every Vote Counts at Annual ArtPrize

Positioned somewhere between dignified Nobel Prize ceremonies and raucous “American Idol” coronations is ArtPrize, a radically egalitarian international art competition begun in Grand Rapids, Mich., by Rick DeVos.
In announcing plans in 2009 for the first event, DeVos called ArtPrize a “social experiment” that would not only give away the world’s largest monetary awards based solely on a public vote, but that any artist in the world could compete.