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A gathering spot for artists
POULSBO — The increasing number of art shops on Poulsbo’s Front Street will boost business and buck an industry slump felt nationwide, say downtown gallery owners.
They’re hardly worried about losing customers to competition; instead, owners expect the corridor’s several galleries, many of which are new this year, will make Poulsbo an art-buyer’s destination.
“I really am thrilled to have more galleries,” said Janet Dowling, owner of Potlatch Gallery. She’s owned the store at Front Street’s southern end for 8 years.
“The more galleries we have, the more the people who will buy that sort of thing will come,” she said.
Many galleries across the country are finding theirs a tough sell: Discretionary spending is down, meaning more emotional, often spontaneous art purchases are fewer and farther between.
Poulsbo’s Front Street hasn’t been immune. A handful of antique and boutique shops have closed their doors or downsized.
But business isn’t so bad in the art world, employees say — though it could always be better.
Front Street Gallery, formerly the Kingston Art Gallery, moved to Poulsbo in March to take advantage of the town’s foot traffic. It joined Verksted Gallery, Shoreline Gallery, The Twisted Brush, The Eagle’s Nest and Potlatch, as well as newcomers The King’s Art and Ascend Art Gallery, all along Front Street in the heart of downtown. Several other downtown shops sell art alongside other wares.
At Front Street Gallery, co-op members keep a tally of visitors, and so far have a record of 100 in one day, said member Sarah Watson.
“But not as many people purchasing as we’d like,” she added.
Member Winnie Rich said other downtown galleries offered a warm welcome, and that cooperation has potential to benefit everyone.
“We hope it’s going to be an art stop,” she said of Poulsbo. “You’ll think of art when you think of Poulsbo.”
Shops downtown tend to be about as busy as the sidewalks in front of them, said Ted Shender, an artist with Ascend Art Gallery. He added the gallery, which opened earlier this year, hopes to attract even more visitors, but has already hosted customers from all over the world — an advantage to doing business in a theme town that attracts people from everywhere.
At Verksted Gallery, sales have increased every year but one of its 23 years on Front Street, and sales are up this year compared to last year, said co-op member Larry Brownley. The gallery worked with some of the area’s newer art sellers to put on recent art walk events.
“There’s room for all of us,” Brownley said.
Art walks, like the one happening this weekend, invite people to visit galleries and restaurants, many of which stay open later than usual. They are a good thing for downtown, said Adele Heinrich, executive director of the Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce.
“I think having all those new art galleries downtown is wonderful,” she said. “I think it’s a very good move on their part.”
Go see it
A Second Saturday Art Walk will be held downtown from 5-8 p.m. this Saturday, July 10.
Learn more at www.historicdowntownpoulsbo.com.