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I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Think Global but SHOP LOCAL

Ralph Sanders is the well known owner of Ralph’s Art Supply on Highland Avenue in old Eau Gallie in Melbourne, Florida.  I spoke to Ralph because I want to remind readers in any city what a wealth of information local shop owners are.  And even if you are not an artist, a good art supply business should be in your contact list for reference on handling the art you do own.  Ralph has worked this side of the counter in retail for 23 years and 3 at the wholesale level.
Ralph, you do have art training in your background, correct?  Yes, I put myself through school in Columbus (Ohio) at the Columbus College of Art and Design.  I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1976.
I know you serve a lot of the local artists throughout Brevard County but what do you offer that the non-artist might find useful?  I have a huge selection of ready-made picture frames with discounted prices daily as well as glass, plexiglass and mat board which we will custom cut.  Parents and grandparents are always interested in our supplies and art kits for children.  We also have decorative papers, silk paints and faux finishing products.
On-line sites are popular these days; what is the advantage of patronizing a locally owned shop?  Advice for one thing, you get your questions answered and often get information you did not know you needed!  You get to touch the items, see the quality and check it out.  There is no waiting for something, if you see it and need it, you take it home immediately.  It is also important to realize that you support your local businesses by paying sales tax.  It’s important to the economy.  And we don’t charge shipping!
You serve the community in a lot of “under the radar” ways, care to mention some of these?  O.K., I donate many art supplies to local charities and the public schools.  And I’ve proudly supported the annual Brevard Community College Spring Student Art Show for 16 years…many times donating the top award.
Do you ever make special orders for customers seeking hard to find items?  All the time, just ask.
Your shop is a virtual hub of networking activity, do you promote this?  Well, we have an open bulletin board for class info, model info, shows and such.  I think a lot of folks just like running into like minded customers while here and they share their own information.
I like your paintings, will you ever find time for more of your own art work?  I hope there are art studios in the afterlife!
I'm pretty sure there are and you will definitely rate a north light window but you better not check out any time soon Ralph!  Thanks for the information. 
You can visit Ralph’s shop at http://www.ralphsartsupply.com or stop in from 10 am until 6 pm, M-Th at 1420 Highland Avenue, Melbourne 32935; check the website for hours of operation on F-Sun.  He’s there 7 days a week.
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