Baldwin City’s Lumberyard Arts Center opens store for local artists
photo by: Elvyn Jones
For 10 years, the Lumberyard Arts Center has offered Baldwin City residents a venue to view or make art. Now it has expanded their opportunity to buy the creative output of local artists.
Lucy’s Corner art boutique opened Sept. 21 at the Lumberyard, occupying the southwest corner of 718 High St. Jeannette Blackmar, Lumberyard executive director, said its shelves and walls feature the drawings, paintings, pottery, prints, jewelry, weavings and other works of 16 local artists, many of whom have displayed in the Lumberyard gallery or taken part in the arts center’s weekly open studios.
Like the gallery, Lucy’s Corner will rotate the work of local artists to keep the experience fresh for shoppers, Blackmar said. In that way, it not only provides a retail outlet for the artists, but also enhances the experience of visitors to the Lumberyard, she said. Those were both goals the Lumberyard established in strategic planning for the boutique, she said. Two other goals were to add a revenue source for the Lumberyard, which receives 25% of each sale, and to give Baker University and Baldwin City school district students hands-on business experience.
Business has been steady since the boutique opened, despite the reduction of traffic from the COVID-19 pandemic that has limited hours, Blackmar said. The pandemic also forced the cancellation of this year’s Maple Leaf Festival, which would have introduced thousands of customers to Lucy’s Corner, she said.
To help make up for the loss of foot traffic, the Lumberyard is seeking grant funds to develop an online catalogue of the boutique’s inventory, Blackmar said.
The Lumberyard has traditionally had a Christmas art market sale, which this year is being folded into the boutique, Blackmar said. Most of the works displayed in the gallery’s current Itty Bitty Picture Show can be purchased as part of that sale, she said.
The development of the boutique showroom involved a makeover of what had become storage space in an old corner office, Blackmar said. New flooring, window tinting and window stenciling were installed with the help of a grant from the Douglas County Community Foundation and the efforts of Lumberyard board members and volunteers.
The renovation work completed in June followed more than a year of planning that started with a boutique committee of local business people and artists. That effort benefited from a business plan provided by the Kansas University Small Business Development Center. Dana Mullis then joined the effort as the boutique’s volunteer manager, putting in place such things as artist selection standards. One requirement is participating artists make a commitment to community engagement, such as providing workshops at the Lumberyard, Blackmar said.
Mullis also worked with four art apprentices from the Baldwin City school district to develop the boutique’s marketing and branding strategies, Blackmar said. The boutique’s name came from that effort and refers to the recently opened Sullivan Square city park just east of the Lumberyard, which was named for Lucy Sullivan, Baldwin City’s first female mayor.
The plan is to keep students engaged in the business side of Lucy’s Corner by having them continue to help with marketing and accounting, Blackmar said. The Lumberyard also plans to have a Baker student intern for the boutique, she said.
The planning that went into Lucy’s Corner should make it a win for the Lumberyard, local artists and art lovers, Blackmar said.
“We’re pleased with how it’s been received,” she said. “It’s space we had been using for storage that now provides retail opportunities for local artists and gives the Lumberyard a way to make some money to support our activities.
Lucy’s Corner is open from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.