When I was a student in New York, I worked at Sam Flax, an art supply store still there on 20th street in Chelsea. I applied out of necessity since I received a substantial discount for art supplies but learned everything there was to know about the products. An invaluable experience I use to this day.
I always remembered how hard it was to be a struggling student and one day in Boston, I listened to two students try to figure out how to pay for supplies needed for a project. They spent quite a while agonizing over the cost of one paint versus another and then discussed which papers would fit their budgets. Unbeknownst to them, I quietly spoke to the sales clerk and continued my shopping. When they finally checked out, they were shocked to find their purchase paid for. I kept thinking how ecstatic I would have been if someone had done that for me.
Today, many old, established art supply stores have unfortunately gone out of business. Dick Blick bought up Utrecht, Pearl Paint in NY is long gone and recently NY Central Art (established 1905) closed its doors in July. The internet is swallowing up these stores and removing the experience of discovery and exploration. I admit I’ve scored incredible finds…once I found over 40 four ounce bottles of Golden Fluid acrylics for a dollar a piece! But I would rather have them stay in business and pay full price.