Art enabler

Debbie Wolff

Photo By David Robert

Debbie Wolff recently moved her art supply store, Nevada Fine Arts, from E. Fourth St. to 1301 S. Virginia St. It’d been there since its opening in 1969.

Why the location change?

For a myriad of reasons. We couldn’t really service the community like we wanted to at the old location. The parking wasn’t good. The building we were renting was old and rundown; no air conditioning. It was a hard location for a lot of people to get to. This building actually came up for sale, and we were able to purchase it. We always wanted to do art classes and provide a place for groups to meet in town. We also have access to vendors across the world, and they can come and do demos free of charge for people. And we’re developing quite an extensive email list, so if people are interested in finding out what we have to offer, they can come in and sign on to the list, and it’s also posted on the website []. The Reno Portrait Society is the first group we’re renting out to on Oct. 17; they’ll be coming every Wednesday. So it’s going to be a nice community space for people. Once a year, we’ll also be having a teacher appreciation night, probably in the fall or winter, and invite art teachers in the area. It’ll basically be a party and giveaway by vendors of different art material products.

There are a lot of arts and crafts chain stores in town. What do you offer that they don’t?

One thing that sets us apart is we do special orders all the time. Chain stores can’t get a product to people in a couple days, and we can. Our prices are less expensive than the chain stores, which is contrary to what people think. Canvas is the bread and butter of art stores, and we offer canvases at 40 percent off every day. We’re the least expensive in town for canvases, and we’ll match any price if people say they found so and so somewhere else. We have good deals here, and we offer student and teacher discount cards. The chains don’t do that. And at Christmas, I’m the buyer, so I buy a lot of fun gift things no one else has.

How did you get started in the art shop world?

I’m a graphic artist. I have a degree in that. My business partner [Doug Wolff] was in retail sales. I also taught children art, so art’s kind of been my life. This business came up for sale, and we wanted to buy a well-established business in Reno.

Could you give me a size comparison of the old and new place?

We were at 5,000 square feet, and now we’re at 7,000. All of our customers that have found us the last couple months, everyone is saying, “I’m so glad you moved—way better location; way easier for me to get here.”

Anything else you’d like to add?

If anyone’s interested in teaching classes or renting the room out, contact me at the store at 786-1128. Our business hours have changed; we’re open a half hour later, Monday through Saturday from 9 to 6 p.m.

People have said this is a candy store for artists. We’ve serviced a lot of organizations from casinos, government agencies, amateurs, professionals and children—there’s a lot of unique things for the budding artist. We also do custom framing. We have a unique concept here called “take and make framing;” we give you all the parts, and you assemble it at home, so it saves you money. We really cater to the do-it-your-selfer, as well as someone who wants a catered job.

People really think a smaller store is more expensive, but with internet and catalogs, it’s forced a lot of smaller stores to be competitive, and we really are competitive. I’d say one of the biggest things I’ve changed in the eight years we’ve been here is the pricing. We’ve really worked at knocking down the pricing, and we do bulk pricing. If someone wants to buy 100 canvases, they’re going to get a great price. The chains don’t do that kind of thing. And if they’re going to shop locally, they’ll donate to the community— we gave $3,000 of paint to TMCC. And to the Nevada Deptartment of Wildlife and the Bureau of Land Management, we donated our collection of trout and duck stamp prints, valued at over $15,000. So I just want to encourage people to support us as we support the local community and economy.