Artist & Craftsman Supply was founded in 1985 as a small upstart art supply store in the Portland, Maine area. At the time, the art materials retail landscape was dominated by independent “mom & pop” storefronts that often sold a mix of stationery, hardware, and office supplies. Catalog-based companies were also a major player since the internet as we know it was in its infancy. We were able to carve out a little corner in northern New England.
The early years of A&C included segues into wholesale distribution, light manufacturing, sign supplies, architectural finishes like house paint, and exclusive import and distribution of a boutique oil paint from Europe. Of course, none of these partner businesses were particularly successful, except for the oil paint distribution, and all were eventually abandoned so we could refocus on retail.
We began expanding in the mid-nineties and continued adding stores over the next several years. During this time, and still to this day, our strong suit is being able to connect with artists and our surrounding communities. By the early 2000s, we began to grow into areas such as children’s art and school supplies, eclectic and novelty goods, and other non-traditional fine art-related materials. This direction began to shape the A&C you see and enjoy today! We were becoming not only a credible source for high-quality fine art materials, but a destination for the novice, student, hobbyist, and anyone looking for something unusual or just plain fun.
In 2009, our founder and then President, sold 48% of Artist & Craftsman Supply to its employees. Thus, creating the Artist & Craftsman Supply Employee Stock Ownership Plan Trust (ESOP). By the fall of 2016, we had 34 brick-and-mortar locations, and a growing online store.
On December 30, 2016, we acquired the remaining shares of the company from the founder and became a 100% employee-owned company! Today, A&C stands as one of the largest art material suppliers in the United States. Our goal is to continue to shape our company as a vital resource in support of the creative spirit. As employee-owners, there is immeasurable satisfaction and opportunity ahead. As always, there is work to be done and challenges to be met but together we are a force only limited by the boundaries of our imaginations.
We are proud to be a Maine-based company and equally proud to be ‘local’ to our communities nationwide and to those who shop online.
We are America’s local art supply store!