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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Buying Art and Craft Supplies

I don't know about you, but I get all giggly and excited at the thought of obtaining more art and craft supplies.  I never fail to be delighted by the idea of acquiring new paints, brushes, papers, modeling clay, beads, oh the list just goes on and on. The problem is often where to get my hands on these goodies.  Where I live we have a couple of, what I could call, 'hobby stores' or 'DIY hobby craft stores'.  They sell the basics, but they are more focused on children's art projects or on people who want to make something that they will use for a seasonal decoration, not necessarily an enduring piece of quality art. 

That is not to say that I do not shop at the local hobby craft stores, because I do.  However, shopping to indulge ones creative side should be done without suffering bright, blinding fluorescent lights, without having to go down every aisles to find something to substitute for what you actually wanted (because the store does not carry what you actually need), and without being ignored when you walk in the door or without having to flag down help. Of course, asking for help around here is an effort in futility as there is nobody employed at these stores who have any idea what product knowledge is, or why it is important.
I grew up working in an art and craft supply store and there wasn't a product in the store I could not talk about with a customer, in depth.  All a customer had to do was come in and tell me what they wanted to achieve and I could tell them the products they needed to achieve their vision.  Product Knowledge! I knew the products we sold. I used them, I read about them, I understood them. I also knew where in the store they were located. This allowed me to actually assist customers.   Nowadays, in the local big-box stores near where I live, they might offer classes on a limited number of projects, but they know very little about any of the products they sell beyond what is scripted, and finding anyone who can tell you anything about the new paint line they have on the shelf - is basically impossible.  In fact, I have witnessed store assistants giving customers completely the wrong information about the properties of a product.  I have on several occasions offered fellow customers information on products, before they purchased something that simply was not going to do what they wanted it to.

Like many artistically curious people, I am always interested when I see a new product line, especially paint, but as there is no information at the store, and no associate with any product knowledge, I have to come home and research the qualities of that product anyway. At that point, why would I want to go back to the store?  There is simply nowhere here I can get all my art and craft supply needs met. It can be very frustrating not to have at my disposal a well stocked art and craft supply store that caters to a wider range of art and craft than the local hobby type stores.

So, what do I do?  By the power of the Internet, I can get my hands on anything I need, without suffering the blinding lights, without dealing with the rude cashiers, without the frustration of being made to feel like you are interrupting something when you try to check out at the cashiers desk.

I shop online!

One place I particularly like is Amazon.  I have had only one "less than stellar" experience shopping with Amazon and that was not Amazon's fault by any means.  The item was shipped quickly, but the post office lost it.  Amazon, however, resolved the issue quickly and replaced the lost order.  "Ala peanut-butter sandwiches" - like magic. No harm, no foul and hardly any delay from the original ship date.

What I like about shopping for art and craft supplies on Amazon is the incredible variety that they have on offer.  Add to that the fact that many items offer free shipping, an easy return system if you do happen to need to return something, great customer service and really good prices and it is a much more enjoyable experience than the local stores!

I also like the "Your Amazon" feature where they suggest items to you, as well as the "Customers Who Bought Items in Your Recent History Also Bought..." suggestion feature.  I have discovered many interesting finds using both of these methods.

My 'wish lists' are always full of goodies and the best thing about that is, you can easily keep track of what you want, and also see if the price has gone up or down since you added it to your list. I have snagged a few great items on sale because they happen to be in my wish list and I noticed the sale price.  Wish lists also help you easily find things you wish to order frequently and you can publish your wish list to your friends - no more guessing what to get you for your birthday! 

Amazon's Arts, Crafts & Sewing Store showcases hundreds of craft supplies and essentials for jewelry-making, sewing, knitting and crochet, scrapbooking, and more. The Arts, Crafts & Sewing Store also features art supplies for drawing and painting, including boards and canvas, paper, cutting tools, pencils, pastels, inks, paint, brushes, and painting kits. In the beading and jewelry-making section you'll find beading kits, tools, wire, charms, and findings.
Then there are the reviews. Unlike in the local stores where you can't find anyone who possesses the least amount of product knowledge on the products in their store, at Amazon you can read the product reviews of other people who have used the same products.  I love product reviews, they really help me make up my mind about an item if I am undecided about purchasing.

All in all, online shopping for your art and craft supplies is a really good alternative if you do not have a great supply store near you.

And don't forget the fun you have when that package arrives on your doorstep!

So go, get creative!

Until next time...

Below are some of the items I have either purchased myself, or are on a wish list! Check it out, even just 'window shopping' for art supplies is fun!!!


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