Something New, An Art Superstore

Something New, An Art Superstore

A new business model for selling original art struggles to find its niche.

Sitting on the sidewalk on the north side of Como Avenue in St. Paul’s St. Anthony Park is a sandwich board announcing Something New in the Park, a new art shop in the area. Even though it opened more than six months ago it can’t quite afford a real sign. Not yet, anyway.

Something New is not a gallery, even though it displays and sells artists’ work on consignment. It has an owner, so it is not an artists’ co-op, even though it sells a wide range of artwork by several artists, and the artists themselves work the store in exchange for lower commissions on artwork that sells.

Owner Sue Roricht previously used the space to house a clothing and accessory boutique called Suka-Rama. But when that became unsustainable Roricht closed the boutique and Something New in the Park opened February 1.

Roricht has no beefs with the gallery model, nor is she trying to reinvent how original art is sold, but she has nonetheless created a fresh business model for a product that can be difficult and intimidating to shop for.

There are more than 1,500 works of art in the store (and overflowing into the hallway), by about 100 local artists. Media and materials include cards, jewelry, paintings, woodcarvings, candles, clothes, and photography, and range from $3 for a greeting card to $1,000 paintings.

Roricht, who is not a professional artist and works a separate day job, says the store cash-flows about half of what she needs, about where she was at as Suka-Rama. She is working on getting the word out through local art fairs and events in hope of increasing traffic.

Asked about revenue expectations, all Roricht would offer was “enough to cover the bills. We want as many local artists as possible to have their art shown to the public. We just want people to come in.”

Then, she says, she’ll buy a sign.