Do you support local artists and craftspeople?

Vars

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One thing that has always irked me about Starbucks and other big corporate monoliths is that when they support local artists, it''s the exception rather than the rule.

As regards America at least, this is surely part of what leads to the impression that \"America has no substantial culture\" as I''ve heard people say. Because we''re a nation predominantly of corporate stores. (The same corporatization of culture is happening in many countries however.)

Anyway I am wondering if independent coffee shop owners like you''d see using this forum support local artists as a rule, or as an exception?

Do you put locally made painting on the walls?

Do you put locally made pottery on sale, such as coffee mugs?

Do you use locally made furniture?

Do you make any of these things yourself?

Do you permit local musicians to perform in your coffeehouse?

If not, why not?

Thanks.
 

caffe biscotto

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Jan 18, 2008
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You make some very good points Vars... (Var?).

There is something to be said for buying local for sure. I have a bakery and I always try to source ingredients as local as possible.

I am in a county where much is available in the way of local arts & crafts, but it's all geared for tourism, therefore it's quite expensive. I couldn't afford to have a local potter produce mugs for me (I wish I could though).

Good idea about local artists. They could display their art or sculptures inside or outside your shop, for free, in exchange for the advertising. We've done that before and our place became as much of a destination for tourists, as it was just a bakery.

Often, I lose site of the benefits of buying local, when I see such a plethora of reasonably priced products coming from China. :D

I'm curious to hear what others have done in terms of buying locally made products for sale or display in their shops.
 

ElPugDiablo

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Jul 16, 2004
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Hartford and New Haven, CT
Vars said:
One thing that has always irked me about Starbucks and other big corporate monoliths is that when they support local artists, it''s the exception rather than the rule.

As regards America at least, this is surely part of what leads to the impression that "America has no substantial culture" as I''ve heard people say. Because we''re a nation predominantly of corporate stores. (The same corporatization of culture is happening in many countries however.)
I will tell you why Starbucks does not act locally. If some "local artists" managed to get their works into Starbucks and made it big, you will have some jerks accusing them of selling out. That is why Starbucks don't support the local artists. They don't want to corrupt the purity of these starving artists with their evil greenback.

As far as America has no substantial culture, I have no idea where you get that from. The US is in the forefront of every art medium and movement. You are sadly buying into this we are inferior in every way apologist attitude. The irony of course is van Gogh can't sell a painting to save his life. How's that for substantial culture in the old country?

Vars said:
Do you put locally made painting on the walls?

Do you put locally made pottery on sale, such as coffee mugs?
Nope. I run a coffeehouse not an art gallery. I know a bit about coffee but nothing about art. Many of the coffee shops that do have local works no thing about coffee AND nothing about art.

And another thing, a friend specially created a space just to put local art works. He gets decent traffic coming in to see the stuff. I was at one of his opening, decent amount of people, but most of them don't buy anything, so what is the point?
Vars said:
Do you use locally made furniture?
Nope. They are way expensive and are not commercial sturdy quality.

Vars said:
Do you make any of these things yourself?
Nope. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn once.

Vars said:
Do you permit local musicians to perform in your coffeehouse?
Nope. Just like art work, it needs a lot of planning and hard work, and not enough monetary return.

I will tell you what I buy locally though. I used to buy local farm dairy. Great milk. I stopped buying from them because they missed their delivery 30% of the time. No cappuccino and no latte for my customers. No money for me to pay my local employees.
 

caffe biscotto

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ElPugDiablo, you must be an interesting guy for sure. I get your point, if you don’t know art, it’s probably best to keep it simple and keep it coffee, otherwise you could give the wrong vibe. I’ll have to visit your shop some day. I won’t make it a sales call and I won’t order a milky, sugary drink out of respect. Just hit me with your best shot & make it a double. Ha ha ha.

So... what makes it work in my area is that the additional traffic does pay off, in the way of tourist dollars. People come here from all over the country to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum, Tanglewood, Butternut Basin, art galleries, etc. Local art is a plus here. Be it fine art, theater, sculpture or what have you.

Anyway, I can appreciate Vars’ tenacity and eagerness to hear from and hopefully learn from others. I’m glad you’re back, stick around. :wink:
 
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Vars

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caffe biscotto said:
I am in a county where much is available in the way of local arts & crafts, but it's all geared for tourism, therefore it's quite expensive.

That reminds me how I once I drove through Cambria, California. I couldn't believe how much of the town appeared to be just one tourist trap after another. I eventually went to a gallery and found the exact same non-local artists' work that I had seen in Carmel, California, which is also a tourist trap in my view, and that was the exact same stuff I had seen in two San Francisco galleries. As a matter of fact, one time I went out to visit Sedona and I was yet more of the same non-local artists' work.

Thus I inferred that what must be happening is that certain artists in the Southwest have been tagged as having celebrity status and gallery owners are cramming their places with these big names' work. Unfortunately, that leaves out the Little Guy.

That's why it's important for non-gallery venues to exist. The amateur artist or student artist could potentially otherwise be shut out.
 
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Vars

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ElPugDiablo said:
And another thing, a friend specially created a space just to put local art works. He gets decent traffic coming in to see the stuff. I was at one of his opening, decent amount of people, but most of them don't buy anything, so what is the point?

If they don't buy coffee or food or even the art itself, then yes, there's no point.

Perhaps the key is to find art that inclines people to buy food.

For instance I was at a Panera Bread (corporate chain) and they had some paintings (prints actually) all over the place. Clearly these were a bit of a joke, because they were made to look like amateur art, but were not really.

They all depicted various humorous uses for loaves of bread, e.g. Bogart holding bread in the last scene of Casablanca. Or one of a man kneeling before a woman and offering a tiny loaf instead of a ring.

Thus:
The effect added to the primary business, rather than detracting.

Whatever you can do to brighten people's lives, that's culture.
 

caffe biscotto

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Since we’re on the subject of artists, I met this guy through MySpace,
Ryan L. Lewis. He works from North Carolina and he uses actual coffee
grounds to create some amazing paintings.

Three-comp-t.jpg
AromaOfBalance-t.jpg


Check out his website:
http://thecoffeeartcorporation.com/
 

ElPugDiablo

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I have two shops, one in Hartford and one in New Have, there are plenty of venues for art, live music. Some are local and regional and other are internationally acclaimed. For example this Van Gogh is now on exhibit 3 minutes walk from my shop for the first time in New England. There is nothing I can do to my little space that will remotely add to such culture scene. But I bring the best coffee and tea to both cities, I already have distraction like baked goods which I am not good at, but I have to have those because they are necessities. I need to continue to improve the quality of items that I am offering, that is my business, I am not a art dealer and I don't need such distraction.
5885-97799465.jpg
 

ElPugDiablo

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Vars said:
If they don't buy coffee or food or even the art itself, then yes, there's no point.

Perhaps the key is to find art that inclines people to buy food.

For instance I was at a Panera Bread (corporate chain) and they had some paintings (prints actually) all over the place. Clearly these were a bit of a joke, because they were made to look like amateur art, but were not really.

They all depicted various humorous uses for loaves of bread, e.g. Bogart holding bread in the last scene of Casablanca. Or one of a man kneeling before a woman and offering a tiny loaf instead of a ring.

Thus:
The effect added to the primary business, rather than detracting.

Whatever you can do to brighten people's lives, that's culture.
Art for the sake of commerce? Isn't that pretty gauche? Someone once asked a famous French director the difference between French movies and Hollywood's stuff. I am paraphrasing his respond "American movie is all about money. French movie is all about money, but we pretend it is art"
 
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Vars

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ElPugDiablo said:
Art for the sake of commerce? Isn't that pretty gauche?

Yes, but something is better than nothing.

Speaking of food, I found a French bistro recently that had excellent food and lunch specials. The chef had some heavy duty training.

Then I noticed that off the side of the bistro, they had a cafe room.

They had gotten the clever idea of selling portions of the high quality food they made alongside coffee.

Many restaurants make more than they need, so there they were selling the extra to the cafe patrons.
 

John P

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I am with ElPugDiablo on this one,

How often do you go to the local art galleries and said, "Have you thought about promoting the local coffee artisans?" Of course, there may only be one within a hundred mile radius, but ...

Our coffee table and side tables are all made by a local artisan metal-worker, as well as our stainless, laser-cut sign and neon were made by small local people as well, but as far as hanging local art, no.

When we started we had countless artists asking about hanging their art, etc.
Of the many that asked, a total of three actually brought by a portfolio... and only one had a few pieces that, following a drunken stupor, I might allow on my walls. There are some tremendously talented local artists, but those that I would have would only want art that I had purchased on a wall outside their gallery.

The same for local, or independent, musicians. While many are talented performers, if they had a name worthy of bringing in customers, they would not be performing at a coffeeshop. We're about coffee, and while I would be happy for John Mayer to perform on our patio... it ain't happening any time soon.

Call me crazy, but I want people coming here because of what we serve.
 

CCafe

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Amen!

I've seen some pretty poor artwork hanging in a few shops that were down right grotesque or hit was hung for a better lack of judgment. Either way it was a real turnoff. I do like the idea of supporting the local artist but more in the way of functional decor versus some of the dreaded hang me up and buy me items.

One of my biggest turnoffs was a Mexican restaurant in town had all of its artwork tagged for sale. I felt as if I were in a retail store rather then a authentic Mexican restaurant. Probably explains why the went under in less then a year. I get the same feeling when I enter coffee shops pushing artwork in the same way. To me all the ambiance is lost.
 
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Vars

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John P said:
Call me crazy, but I want people coming here because of what we serve.

Most regular cafe goers, I observe, only buy the cheapest coffee, which is no better than McDonalds' coffee at most cafes (surely not yours) and sometimes actually worse.

They hang out at the cafe because they are seeking refuge. It's the "Third Place" that Starbucks brochures and training manuals talk about.

For potential customers who are not merely seeking refuge, you need some way to draw them in and make them think that going to a cafe is a "special occasion" and worth of a $4 latte.

Most cafes in America just don't live up to that wish.

No music. No art. Nothing ... except so-so coffee at the price people are set on paying.

So people spend $1-1.50, stay for a half-hour thinking "it's better than Chuck E Cheese anyway" and then they leave.

And then frustrated indy cafe owners wonder why Charbucks has taken over, or blame the consumer.

You see, the consumer isn't at fault. It's actually the cafe owners who wrongly assume everyone is a coffee geek like them.

It's a classic business mistake.
 
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Vars

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CCafe said:
I get the same feeling when I enter coffee shops pushing artwork in the same way. To me all the ambiance is lost.

Then don't sell it. Buy it in order to hang it and don't sell it.
 

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