I visited my very first Dick Blick store in San Diego on Friday 14th July (to get supplies for the pastel workshop) and then again on Monday 17th July! That meant art store shopping four days running! Only true hard bitten art supplies addicts will know what that feels like!
Kathy and Gordon (of which more later) had flown in on Sunday for THE BIG ROAD TRIP. On Monday morning, they went seal watching with Louise while I fixed up my flight and car for the last week and enrolled in AAA (for the last week of my trip). We then all went down to the Little Italy part of San Diego to the Blick Art Material Store so Kathy could see it. Gordon parked himself in a location of his choosing and the female contingent hit the store. He had a long wait...........
I have to say that I have a very positive impression of art stores in the USA. In my opinion, they are hugely better than some of the well known and very large ones I use in London - at least from my perspective for the type of things I buy. I oohed and aahed my way round both stores. I gather Kathy (from Maine) was also impressed - and I hadn't realised until the visit how few places actually have a Dick Blick store.
The Dick Blick store (like the store in San Clemente) has a great range of paper of all different types plus illustration and museum boards. The two stores I visited also had well stocked shelves - ie if they stock it they make sure they keep on top of reordering. A big contrast to some of the very large stores I visit in London who sometimes let stockouts occur. London stores also tend to stock European suppliers rather than American ones - irrespective of who produces the best product (or the fact that products are different). In contrast I found good quality European supplies in both the San Clemente and San Diego stores. And my vote goes with the store who stocks quality irrespective of the country it comes from.
I also liked the fact that the Dick Blick stores had a very good range of drawing boards/desks and other furniture for storing paper and art materials - a big thumbs up for that one. Allocated parking spaces in the adjacent lot were also a plus point. About the only area of supply I could identify which I thought they could improve was the very weak range of art books in store (people who like art supplies invariably like art books too!)
I have English artist friends who regularly order from Dick Blick - because of the impossibility of getting certain supplies in the UK. Having seen the store I shall now be paying more attention to their mail order catalogue!
[Note: sorry for the 'break in service' but my broadband link went down - but has now been resurrected ]
Links: Dick Blick, San Diego (link includes directions and a map)
Technorati tags: art, art business, art supplies, paper , shopping