Archive for January, 2009

Industry News

Monday, January 26th, 2009

We are pleased to announce that the first proofs have rolled off the press for the newest MacPherson’s Art Supply Source book designed and published by Creative Catalog Concepts (CCC). Over 500 pages, fully illustrated in color, this is the reference of all references for our industry. Watch for your copy coming soon (2 to 3 weeks)!

Here’s a big shoutout to Beth Bergman of Wet Paint in St Paul, MN. Beth is celebrating her 25th anniversary at the helm of this art industry institution!

Artograph, Inc has announced the addition of John Davis as the new Chief Operating Officer(COO). Don Dow, the company’s CEO says, “John brings a wealth of experience in lean manufacturing and operational management and planning that is so critical in today’s business environment.” John will be managing the day to day operations of the business with a focus of applying the principals of Lean Manufacturing and Continual Improvement to all areas of the company. John is married with two children and resides in Buffalo, MN.

The Creative Leisure Newsletter reports that the French corporate parent of the needlecraft maker  DMC in the U.S. has been sold to the Bernard Krief Group, a French consulting/investment firm. Joe McCabe, President/CEO of DMC in the U.S. said, “The strategic plans will provide new opportunities for growth and expansion of the existing DMC businesses, especially in conjunction with the current holdings and proposed acquisitions of the Bernard Krief Group.”

Art Outfitters in Little Rock, AR got a great write up in the “Hot in Little Rock”, a daily e-mail newsletter that features all that is cool and happening in Arkansas’ capital city. Check it out: Hot in Little Rock!

Harvey Kanter, former head of Merchandising at Michaels has joined Moosejaw, internet retailer of clothing and lifestyle accessories as their President and CEO. The company is based in Madison, WI.

The Artist’s Palette in Novato, CA is planning to close its doors by summer of this year.

The Greenville News of Greenville South Carolina reports the shocking news that more than $1 million in stolen merchandise from the Hobby Lobby crafts and furniture store supplied the operation of two illegal copycat stores that offered steep discounts that authorities say were “too good to be true.” Read the entire story by clicking on this link: Hobby Lobby Theft

We would like to salute a true Art Dog, Buster, faithful companion to MacPherson’s Southern California Sales Representative Dawn McKay. Buster passed away recently and is sadly missed.

The Chicago Board of Elections selected the Pigma Micron 08 pen for citizens to use to mark their ballots for the 2008 Presidential election.  The quick-dry time, waterproof and fade resistant ink qualities translate into a permanent record of an individual’s vote.  The smudge-free rich black mark ensures the highest scanning accuracy by authorized ballot scanning machines.  Shown below is our new president Barack Obama getting ready to cast his vote last November. If you look closely you can just make out the Pigma Micron 08 in his right hand!

An unidentified poll worker directs Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., to a voting station at the Shoesmith Elementary School in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.

The very accomplished and respected Judy Alderson, Vice President of Sales and Channel Marketing for DIXON TICONDEROGA CO. in Heathrow, Florida has left the company. Any company seeking an executive level sales professional with experience in Office Products and Art should contact Judy directly: Phone-386-423-5238 or email-

Golden Artist Colors Gears Up for a Busy 2009

Monday, January 26th, 2009

CHA 2009
will have a booth at the Winter 2009 Craft & Hobby Association Convention & Trade show from Jan. 24-28, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  Visitors will have the chance to learn more about the innovative new Digital Mixed Media products from Golden Artist Colors and how they can be incorporated into Altered Books, Collage, Mixed Media techniques, and more.  In addition to learning how to use the new Digital Grounds, artists will also have the chance to explore other materials in the booth such as Drawing Grounds and the new GOLDEN OPEN Acrylics.

GOLDEN Working Artist Program Director, Patti Brady will be present at the booth discussing her new book, sure to inspire every artist!  She will also be holding a book signing in the North Light booth during the show.  In Patti Brady’s book, Rethinking Acrylic, Radical Solutions for Exploiting the World’s Most Versatile Medium, she explores the versatility of the acrylic medium and its ability to mimic oil paint, watercolor, gouache and encaustic.  In order to give artists the best hands-on opportunity to explore and learn about GOLDEN products while visiting the show, Patti will be teaching two workshops.

2009 Pricing
Please remember that new product pricing will be effective February 16, 2009, so place your orders now and save!

CAA 2009
Another tradeshow that GOLDEN has been a longtime supporter of and will be attending in Los Angeles in late February is the College Arts Association ( tradeshow.  In addition to featuring the new OPEN Acrylics and Digital Mixed Media products, GOLDEN will also focus on Silverpoint / Drawing Ground, two new Fluid Historical Colors and three new Fluid Color Travel Interference Colors.  A new project that booth visitors are sure to be interested in is an effort supported by GOLDEN, but led by Mark Gottsegen, the Administrator of the Art Material Information and Education Network (AMIEN)Gottsegen is developing a testing program to begin to monitor how well outdoor murals withstand the various environmental conditions which they face.  Using portable equipment over time, AMIEN will begin to assemble data that will replace a good deal of the conjecture and rumor with real information.  AMIEN is currently in the beginning stages of this work and commitment to collaborate with Rescue Public Murals (RPM) as both of these organizations advance the goals of preserving public art for generations to enjoy.

Stores Carrying OPEN Acrylics
For a listing of retailers carrying OPEN Acrylics, go to Golden Paints Store Locator.  Great introductory terms are still available.  Retailers ordering now can still receive an extra 10% as part of the new placement program.  Contact your MacPherson’s sales representative for details.

If you have any questions about any of the above information, please contact your MacPherson’s Sales Representative

Elmer’s News – January 2009

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Elmer’s National Advertising
Need some help stimulating sales?  Plan ahead to take advantage of the most extensive range of Arts and Crafts national advertising and promotions that Elmer’s has ever scheduled.

  • Television Advertising will focus on Elmer’s Go Paint! line of kid’s arts and crafts kits.  These products offer a “no mess” solution to kid’s painting activities because the paint only works on the special Go Paint! paper that is included in the set.  There will be 2 flights of ads aired in 2009, with the first starting in March and the second during November/December.  Participating networks include TLC, Lifetime, Nickelodeon, HGTV, USA, Food Network, and ABC Family.
  • Web Marketing. Elmer’s website is constantly being modified and enhanced for new product launches.  There are fun filled consumer online projects, along with a section devoted to games and online painting.  Check it out at

Consumer Promotions

  • Chuck E. Cheese’s Promotion. Find great savings on Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza, drinks, and tokens in specially marked packages of Go Paint! throughout the year.   There will also be special tray liners promoting the program throughout Chuck E. Cheese’s location.   There are over 500 Chuck E. Chesse restaurants in 48 states that serve more that 77M people each year – most of which are Elmer’s target audience.

Children’s art and craft products continue to grow in sales as they encourage creativity and self expression, build confidence, help develop motor skills, and are a fun activity.  When shopping for these items, parents are on the lookout for brands they trust for meeting all quality and safety expectations, and  for convenience with activities that eliminate mess and worry, while providing quick gratification for their children.  Go Paint! more than satisfies all these criteria, and MacPherson’s carries Go Paint! products.  So be sure to maintain distribution on an everyday basis and order in added stock prior to the national advertising.

Elmer’s POP Materials
Help drive your retail sales by taking advantage of these new display materials.  They are both free of charge, but the supply is limited.

  • X-ACTO Product Header – This vinyl display header is the perfect topper for your X-ACTO section.  It measures 24” x 6” and comes complete with 2 self adhesive plastic feet, that allow you to mount the header on the top of a product fixture.
  • Conte Posters -We have 2 full color Conte posters available, one featuring Conte Crayons, and the other Conte Sketching Pencils.  They are printed on both sides, measure 16” x 24”, and feature 2 grommet holes for easy hanging.

Please drop me a note at , indicating which of these POP pieces you would like, and I will have them sent directly to you.

Important Information: CPSIA – New Product Safety Regulations

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Do the new safety regulations have you confused? You’re not alone. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced lots of new regulations that take effect this year, mostly for children’s products. There are new limits for lead, phthalates and more. The regulations affect all parts of our industry’s supply chain, from manufacturing to retailing. This link to the US government’s website can explain the act and ever changing regulation. CPSIA Web Site.

As a customer of MacPherson’s, you can take comfort in our steady leadership and proactive approach. We have been very busy collecting all of the information required by the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) regulations. We are securing all the Product Safety Testing Certificates for all of our proprietary products (Art Alternatives, Okido, SOS, etc) and will build an online database where they can be accessed by retailers, end-users, the Consumer Products Safety Commission and US Customs. In the meantime, we will make all certificates in our archives available upon request. We are also relabeling any of the products requiring new safety warnings, though it may take awhile for our existing inventory to cycle through and for the new labels to arrive in your stores. (The new labels are required for products manufactured after Feb. 10th.) Additionally, we are conforming with the new Homeland Security measures put into place for 2009, to make sure our shipments reach us in their expected time-frame.

We are contacting the vendors whose products we distribute, requesting GCCs (General Conformity Certifications) and access to their Product Safety Certifications. We are asking them to tell us of any currently non-compliant products sold to MacPherson’s, so that we can let you know of any problems. We are verifying that anything sold to MacPherson’s from now on will meet 2009 regulations. This is a huge project; we are aware of the timetable and we are working diligently to conform to all regulations. The earliest deadline is about lead in children’s products and it takes effect Feb. 10th. From what we are hearing, compliance dates may change, but that won’t stop us from collecting all the necessary information.

You can be assured that MacPherson’s is aware of the new regulations and is working hard to meet them. Please contact us any time to ask about our progress or about specific certificates.

ColArt’s Hot January 2009 News!

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

MacPherson’s kicked off 2009 with its own economic stimulus package featuring a ColArt “Best Sellers Blitz” promotion to help dealers generate cash flow and realize huge margins:
The Blitz features Winton Oil and Galeria 200ml tube color assortments along with Cotman, University, & Winton Brush assortments at unheard of discounts, with an extra special twist.
You only have until February 13th to take advantage of this deal, so if haven’t already done so, please contact your MacPherson’s rep ASAP.

There’s still time to take advantage of ColArt’s WBTS promotion savings through February 13th featuring;
·         Artist Oil 200ml tube colour
·         Galeria 200ml tube Acrylic Colour
·         Artisan Water Mixable Oils, Mediums, & Brushes
·         Liquitex BASICS 250ml tube Acrylic Color
·         Liquitex Professional Acrylic Inks
(All open stock and asst’s included on the above with +10% discount)

CAP Dealers also will save on; (+10% discount)
·         Artist Oil 37ml tube colour and all Mediums
·         Designer’s Gouache colour and sets
·         Liquitex Gesso (all sizes and ranges)

Sneak Peak at  ColArt’s Spring Promotion! (Begins March 2nd through June 15th)
·         Cotman Watercolour (All sizes, open stock, asst’s, & Sets)
·         Bristol Aluminum Easels
·         Liquitex Soft Body 2oz. Acrylics in tubes and jars
·         Liquitex Super Heavy Body Acrylics

CAP Deals!
·         ARTIST WATER COLOUR! (All sizes, open stock and asst’s
·         All BASICS 118ml and 250ml tube acrylics
·         Derwent Coloursoft sets and asst’s

Taking advantage of these great ColArt savings will make it easy to plan your in-store promotions the first half of 2009!

Please see your MacPherson’s rep for the full details!

New Okido Website Has Launched!

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Come check out the most colorful place on the web!  The official Okido website is now up and running.  The website features all the Okido products, Okido contact info, a retailer locator, and latest Okido news.  All retailers who have purchased an Okido assortment are automatically listed on the retailer locator.

Here’s the link:

Industry News

Friday, January 16th, 2009

ROBERT Z. SIMMONS 88 years old, died in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on October 21, 2008. His career began as a cartoonist and his work appeared in publications such as Stars and Stripes and the Saturday Evening Post. The company he founded in 1952, Robert Simmons, Inc., distributed artist materials for over 40 years. It became famous among American artists for its Roberts Simmons Brushes which were endorsed by Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth. Bob won the 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award from NAMTA. He became an accomplished painter himself.

Rosi Kring, long time export manager at Lyra in Germany, has left the company to pursue other opportunities.

Shar Sosh joined the sales and sourcing team at the F.M. Brush Company as of October 1. Shar is an industry veteran who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to F.M. Brush.

Michael McCooey, president and CEO of Plaid Enterprises, was elected chairman of the board of directors for the Craft & Hobby Association(CHA). Michael replaces Jim Scatena, CEO of FloraCraft, who will remain on the board as past chair. Michael has been president and CEO of Plaid, an Atlanta-based manufacturer and global distributor of arts and craft supplies, for 14 years.

Last week Chartpak was named The MacPherson’s 2008 Vendor of the Year. The people of Chartpak exemplify what we value. They listen to us when we have issues and work to find the optimum result. They are true partners for us and our collective retailer community. We were really excited to honor them with this award, and to share our appreciation for their support.
Chartpak Honorees:
Steve Roth, President
Tom Richards, Executive Vice President Marketing
Steve Rossney, Sales Representative
We also recognized Chartpak Service Representative, Tiffany Boutiette, with a MacPherson’s Vendor Spotlight Award (an award from MacPherson’s employees to recognize outstanding service.)

Well regarded Minnesota rep Tom Klug from C2F died earlier last week. Memorial plans have not yet been announced. We send our most sincere condolences to his loved ones.

World Supply in Hollywood, California closed its doors last week.

Keith Eccles, Alvin’s long-time Canadian sales representative, has parted ways with the company.

Holbein Coming Soon to MacPherson’s

Friday, January 16th, 2009

We are pleased to announce that beginning in February,  MacPherson’s will be stocking a very complete selection of the popular Holbein Artist’s Colors.

In the words of Tim Hopper, Sales VP for HK Holbein, “Holbein sells no entry level paint. Our founder believed that students who start out with inferior paints will have to overcome unnecessary obstacles in reaching their creative potential and therefore it is a false economy. The company employs 12 color chemists who have achieved astonishing results across 12 lines of artist colors. Extra care has been taken in the formulation of our paints to achieve uniform consistency between colors regardless of the varying pigments used. The result is an unrivaled painting experience.”

MacPherson’s will stock in excess of 1,500 skus from color lines that include:

  • Artist Watercolors in 15ml tubes, HWC (108 colors that contain no Oxgall, giving greater creative control)
  • Artist Oil Colors-AOC (147 colors, 11 transparent glazing colors, 4 foundation colors and 6 whites)
  • Duo Aqua Oil Colors, the only artist grade water-soluble oil available (100 highly pigmented colors that are cleaned up using soap and water)
  • Irodori Antique Watercolors (48 colors manufactured to replicate 1,500 year old Japanese palette)
  • Acryla Gouache (107 highly pigmented Acrylic-based colors in 20ml tubes that dry to the same mat finish as Holbein Designer Gouache)
  • Acryla Acrylic Colors (78 colors in 40 ml tubes)
  • Mat Acrylic Colors (36 intensely pigmented colors in 100ml tubes)
  • Aeroflash Liquid Acrylic Colors (64 pigmented acrylic resin based colors in 35ml “drop top” jars – 22 Transparent, 28 Opaque & 14 Pearl Iridescents. These amazing paints will not clog a .1 mm airbrush tip and work fine in a technical pen.
  • Artist Oil Pastels (141 colors in a square stick format, they feel like fine chalk only without the dust!)
  • Soft Pastels (144 colors, soft powder richness with incredible blending and covering power)
  • Drawing Inks (13 brilliant colors in 30ml jars)
  • And more!… like Maxon Chalk Markers, Holbein 1188 Tie Spiral-Bound Journals, Glitter Paint, Gesso Colors, etc.

Art Alternatives News for January 2009

Friday, January 16th, 2009

No Art Alternatives Price Increases for 2009 !!
No doubt your store and your customers are feeling the pain of the economy. To make it in this downturn, we all have to get a little creative. MacPherson’s and Art Alternatives want to do our part to help you be successful in these tough times. Art Alternatives is absorbing our cost increases and passing on the savings to you. In fact, we are decreasing some of our prices to offer you some of the best deals on art products anywhere.

Art Alternatives has always stood for quality art supplies at a great price and we have exhausted our options to bring you the best value by working with our current suppliers and looking for new, inventive ways to cut costs. Tough times call for tough measures. Look for price decreases and net savings in multiple item categories including cutting mats, manikins, stretcher bars, disposable paper palettes, clay tools and many more assorted sundries.  And as always, we focus on bringing you the best price on new products to keep your store fresh with great new additions to the Art Alternatives line! When the going gets tough, the tough buy Art Alternatives.

Black Gesso:
Introducing Art Alternatives Black Gesso at a special introductory offer of 70% off! Take advantage of this never-to-be-seen again deal and stock up on Art Alternatives white gesso at the same great discount. Limited time only – offer effective through 2/28/09 (please reference “SI” pricing.)

Save your black paint and make a stunning background using black gesso! Art Alternatives Gesso features excellent viscosity, opacity, color, dry time, application, flexibility and absorbency. It provides a sufficiently rigid yet pliable surface with a clean black satin finish. The slight tooth aids adhesion; the gesso dries quickly and will not crack. Multiple coats, when carefully applied, will provide a smooth surface. It is ideal for use with acrylics, oils or tempera, on a variety of porous surfaces including canvas, wood panels and paper. Don’t just stop with paint – it also makes a great base for collage, crayon, gel pens, stamping and more.

Pen & Ink Review:

Recently a blogger and artist reviewed our Pen & Ink line products including the Pen & Ink notebooks, watercolor book, newly redesigned pens and our Sketch & Draw books. The reviewer noted that she greatly preferred our Pen & Ink to the Moleskine books, saying that they are softer and better made. Check it out for yourself at her blog site here:

Biffy Beans Pen & Ink Sketchbook Review
Biffy Beans Pen & Ink Fountain Pen Set Review
Biffy Beans Pen & Ink Sketch & Draw Review
Biffy Beans Pen & Ink Watercolor book Review

Back-to-School Sketch Book Imprint Program:
A winning combination – Art Alternatives and your store name! Put your logo on our sketchbooks with our sketchbook Imprint Program – a great deal for your pocketbook and an excellent marketing tool for promoting your store name.   Send us your store logo/artwork and choose from hard or wire bound, black, silver, gold or white imprinting.  Minimum order is 96 books, but to get the best deal, order a skid of 576 books.  Must order in carton quantities and by January 30th.  You’ll receive these best-sellers just in time for Back to School in July! Click here for the order form.

January News from Sakura…

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Website News…
Sakura has upgraded its Sakura of America website, adding a Retailer Toolbox and Store Locator. The site also features detailed information on all of our products. Check out the new and improved website at Sakura has also launched a Sakura News newsletter that is sent via e-mail. It covers new items, promotions, show news and advertising. To sign up to receive your copy or to add or update your dealer listing, contact Debbie Enos,

SumoGrip® II & Lanyard: Never Lose Your Pen!
Because SumoGrip II is so comfortable to write with and the ink doesn’t smear, no one wants to lose it. A “hands free pen locator”, a.k.a. lanyard or neck strap, is now paired with SumoGrip II shipping on Feb 1, 2009.
Excerpt from the  January Sakura News!

New Products & Promotions…
At CHA in Anaheim Sakura will introduce the Sumo Grip II with Lanyard, the newest addition to the Sumo Grip II line! It features the Sumo Grip II 05 Black Gel pen with a matching lanyard. The lanyard is easily removable and re-attached to the clip. It’s perfect for teachers, students, retail personnel, sales people, coaches, medical personnel and anyone who needs a pen handy! The patented Sakura gel ink is permanent, water-proof, archival and resists check washing! Available February 1st with a retail of $4.98; item # SK50272.

MacPherson’s Spring Buyer’s Guide features the Sumo Grip II Line, the Pigma Micron Mega display, the Pigma Sensei Manga set, Pigma Sepia set, Gelly Roll Stardust displays and Gelly Roll Metallic displays! The new Low Profile displays for Pigma Micron, Brush and Graphic as well as Sumo-Grip (original) Pencils, Identipen, Microperm, Pentouch and Permapaque are also being promoted. The Low Profile displays are compact at 17” tall by 6 “ wide; great for secondary locations like end-caps and checkout! All of these items are offered at terrific promo discounts. Ask your MacPherson’s contact for all the details.

Sensei set & Sepia set

Canvas Shlepper Display – 70% Off!

Friday, January 16th, 2009

The original Canvas Shlepper from Fresh Art Products allows you to transport your art with ease. It clips securely to the back of the canvas frame for easy handling and transporting of your work, and you can snap two Shleppers back-to-back to carry two canvases at once. You can also use the Shlepper to hang your canvas with push-pins for instant mounting for critiques and studio painting. Or fasten a shoulder strap or rope to free up your hands. No tools are required, and the Shlepper fits standard 3/4″ stretched canvas. Now you can get this unique and fantastic product at an amazing price! The original Shlepper Assorted Color Display (item # MVSH0005) is being discontinued, and is offered at a deep 70% off discount ($0.99 net). This is the best price ever seen on this useful tool. 18 Shleppers come in each colorful cardboard display, and you need to order in carton quantities. The clear original Shlepper (#MVSH0006) is is not being discontinued.

Get a Free Peek at “The Challenges of Going Green” Webinar from NAMTA

Friday, January 16th, 2009

The Challenges of Going Green is the first in a series of NAMTA webinars designed to add value to your trade association membership. This one features Jeff Morrow will who lead you through this hour-long informative webinar, which you can view as many times as you want and share with your staff. In Jeff’s easy to follow yet impactful style the webinar explains what green is, what the consumers want in green products and the challenges that you will face in going green. Join us at your leisure and view this webinar, valued at $25. You can view the webinar free of charge by clicking here and then clicking on the “Purchase” button. Don’t worry, you won’t be charged!

Industry News

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Sanford and Newell/Rubbermaid News

Personnel: Prismacolor welcomes Danielle Bujan to the Brand Team. Danielle will serve as the Prismacolor Brand Manager. Danielle worked on the Sharpie Brand Team for the past three years and will be a great addition to the Fine Art community.
Ben Gadbois is now President, Markers, Highlighters, Art & Office Organization GBU and North America Region Writing Instruments and Office Organization for the Newell Rubbermaid North American Office Products Group. Ben most recently served as President of the Home Products GBU, which includes Rubbermaid Home Products.
Mo Wolthuis is appointed Vice President, Sales/Channel Marketing and Vice President/General Manager, N. America Region Core Office Products.  Mo has been with Newell Rubbermaid since 2001 and has served in numerous roles with increasing responsibility.  Most recently she was Vice President Sales/Channel Marketing for Rubbermaid Home Products and General Manager of Closet/Organization.

Company News: Newell Rubbermaid recently announced a realignment of facilities in the state of Tennessee. Manchester will become the global center of excellence for ink manufacturing. Construction began in October of 2008 on this state-of-the-art facility. Shelbyville has been chosen as the site for a new packaging center of excellence, to be co-located with the existing distribution center there. Pencil production will be moved to Mexico. Maryville, TN will become a center of excellence for manufacturing markers, highlighters and dry erase products at the end of 2009.
Strathmore & Pacon News: The Great Holiday Swap for Artist Trading Cards, hosted by Strathmore Artist Papers, generated a “huge” amount of enthusiasm from both retailers and artists!
Retailers who enrolled in the Holiday Swap promotion received merchandising materials to help in promoting, as well as a chance to win free product.  Congratulations to Lyon Supply of Long Beach, CA for winning our promotional incentive – $2,000 retail of free Strathmore Product.
The Swap and Strathmore’s Artist Trading Cards were also featured in an ad published in The Artist’s Magazine, which helped generate in-store traffic for retailers.
Artists who participated in the Swap submitted their holiday or winter-themed original artist trading cards and in exchange, they received an original piece of art from another artist.  Return swap cards were mailed on December 15, just in time for the holidays.

“We received over 1,000 entries,” says Jeanette Gile, Strathmore’s swap organizer. “The talent and creativity of the participating artists was amazing!  We even had entries from store employees who couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement.”

Following are a few of the comments Strathmore received:

“Thanks for a fun inspirational promotion!”  – Collette Pitcher

“Thanks for the opportunity; it was a fun size to paint.”  – Catherine Bottelman

“I have been using your art papers since I got my first sketch pad at 10 for Christmas.  I was so excited about this project – my friends at work wanted to play too!  Aren’t they (ATCs) wonderful!!” – Deborah

“I’ve been involved with making ATCs for about 5 years now and I think it’s great that you’re offering a holiday swap.  I hope it is successful!” – Leela

In case you haven’t heard, artist trading cards are miniature pieces of art that are traded around the world.  Artists create trade and collect art at organized swap events, either in person, online or by mail.  The only official rule is that the trading card measures 2.5” x 3.5.”  Strathmore makes it easy with its line of Artist Trading Cards – downsized versions of the same Strathmore papers that artists use for their full-sized art, conveniently cut to the official trading size.

In other contest news, Prismacolor has announced the category winners from the inaugural 2008 Artist Competition. To view the winning entries and read more about the artists who created them, visit Artists interested in entering the 2009 Prismacolor Art Contest can also visit and click on Competitions for complete contest details.
• In the Art Marker category, David Alpert of Mechanicsville, Virginia, won with his work titled “Bodie Lighthouse – Outer Banks, North Carolina”
• In the Pastel category, Robert Carsten of Springfield, Vermont took the top prize with his “Concept and Composition”
• The Graphite category winner was Jason Krause of Philadelphia for his work “Maura, II”
• The Pen & Ink category winner, Rebecca Barmby, won for “Aftermath of the Party”
• Jonathon Jackson of Richmond Heights, Ohio won in Mixed Media with his work “Drawings from the Studio and Mexico”

Big Idea: Time to “Dial Down the SKUs”?

Monday, January 5th, 2009

While all retailers are wrestling with what this recession will mean to consumer spending patterns in the months ahead, Karla Martin, a partner with Booz & Co. says savvy retailers are sifting through spending data to learn how they can use the downturn to their advantage – redefining the way they serve their core audiences.

Karla says it’s all about smart allocation – stores devoting more space to what consumers want, and limiting the offerings that simply get in their way. Done well, it boosts profits and customer satisfaction. In fact, Booz says it’s the biggest trend in retailing since the Big Box. In a blog article at MediaPost entitled “Sales Down? Time To Dial Down The SKUs”, Martin explains how companies can reallocate resources and win new customers, even at a time when business is down.

What do customers want from retailers? Obviously it depends on types of store, but in general, there’s a widespread consumer frustration out there, with many shoppers feeling there are too many choices, presented in a way that’s needlessly complicated.

So in apparel, they want stores to be curators. You don’t go to a museum to see every landscape ever painted – you want to see things from the 18th-century pastoral school. They want that kind of editing. They want retailers to stock brands that show they understand a certain lifestyle, especially now, coming off five years of hard-core brand identification.

In art supply stores, they see way too many SKUs. In a given year the average household buys far fewer than the 10,000 offered at the average art supply retailer. Many stores have seen category sales go up 25 to 50% when they streamline – consumers don’t necessarily want to see ten brands of oil color and seven lines of sable watercolor brush.

It’s standard operating procedure for larger stores to schedule time to review their over all product offering, make some hard decisions and pare back slow moving lines and inventory through the process of a clearance sale. Chain stores call this “editing the mix”. In some cases it can be the end of a noble experiment such as a new color line that did not catch on or a collection of individual items throughout the store that seem to be collecting dust. It is a fact of life in retailing that the popularity of items is generally short lived. Consumers want their favorite stores to constantly re-invigorate their product selection as well and after all, the market can only support so many full ranges of color lines such as watercolor, oil and acrylic. When this time comes, strong and decisive action is called for. If you don’t, not only is valuable space being under-utilized, but more importantly, the financially resources that could be used to bring customers into the store are tied up unnecessarily in under-performing products.

So is it as simple as cutting back on the products that don’t sell? No, it really takes careful analysis and tough decisions. Sometimes, when stores make cuts based on the “numbers”, they can wind up cutting off their nose to spite their face. A consumer buying regularly from a slow moving line of paint may turn out to be a teacher who gets turned off by the store and sends her students down the street.

Chains also need to figure out what’s missing. In some stores, Kroger now sells milk in three-quarter-gallon containers for people who found a gallon too big and half-gallon too small.

Is the recession actually changing consumer behavior, or are they the same, and just spending less? They’re spending differently, possibly less interested in new for newness’ sake, but open to products that can help them get better creative results. Consumers are buying less, and part of the reason is that they are being choosy. There are trends to take into account; Manga and Aerosol can not be denied. If you are hanging on to marginal product at the expense of trend or growth categories you need to reassess your judgment and priorities. If not, you and your store run a huge risk of being left behind.

We’ve taken note of the steps needed to “edit the mix” and detailed a simple “outline for action” to help you get started:

Analyze: Use available data. POS if you have it, or a MacPherson’s AOD report. What’s the AOD report? We track all customer purchases for 12 months and we have a nifty report that shows all items ordered, how many bought and how many times each item appeared on an order. Look for too many duplicate lines in the same merchandise category. Make sure you end up with enough variety to satisfy the customers who shop your store.

Watch items within a line: Sizes of brushes, colors in a range… It is a common mistake for newcomers to the art supply world to look at the rate of sale figures for specific colors and conclude that 1/2 the line should be closed out. The reality is that some of the colors that are required on a class list have such tinting strength that the literally last forever and are rarely re-bought. If a store discontinues any in this category they will almost certainly lose the all important art class business.

Condense space: Once the decisions are made, plan the “exit strategy” to make room for new items and categories. It is generally better to move close outs to a special area of the store such as right inside the front door.

Conduct a clearance sale: A big sign in the front window says it all. Informally run a “tag sale” for a few weeks and then move it to tables in the front of the store.

Learn lessons for the items that did not work. And watch out for making the same mistakes.

What to choose when space and resources are freed up? Red hot Montana Cans, Manga, STABILO POS impulse pens? We can help and don’t be bashful, ask your MacPherson’s sales representative for your own AOD list.

Industry News – Product Scoop!

Monday, January 5th, 2009

From the “You Heard It Here First” Department

Prismacolor will introduce a new line of Soft Pastels during the 1st quarter of 2009. You will see them advertised in the MacPherson’s Spring Buyers Guide. Your MacPherson’s rep will have all the details as soon as they become available.