Customers wandered through a colorful and diverse yet carefully curated gallery style space on the second floor of 245 Walnut St. admiring and purchasing wares from local artists.
Alice Mason, 11, ran around the store with her younger sister, with their father not far behind. Mason said she came by the shop earlier with her mom and took note of the things she admired, so she could purchase the pieces as Christmas gifts.
At the register, Ellen Weinberg, a ceramic artist, said, “This is my piece!” as she rang up the family’s purchases.
The New Art Shop launched a three-weekend pop-up shop at the end of November selling the various wares of 45 local artists, with more than half of the artists from Newton and the rest from the Boston area. Emily O’Neil, executive director of the New Art Center, said her goal is to turn the space into a cooperative-style shop for local artists to sell their pieces while simultaneously running the shop themselves.
Currently, the artists earn a minimum of 65 percent of the profit from the sales of their work, O’Neil said, and if the shop fully becomes a co-op, the artists running the shop will also earn an hourly wage. The works sold in the shop vary from homemade candles and soaps to ceramics and wall art to books written by local authors.
“Our hope is at the culmination of our nine shopping days, we will have enough evidence to prove that there’s enough community interest to support a retail endeavor,” O’Neil said.
The New Art Center, a Newton-based nonprofit art education space, currently supports the volunteer-run shop. If the shop were to become a more permanent co-op endeavor, it would be run entirely by the artists, more independently from the Center, according to O’Neil and Kim Spencer, who founded the initiative together.
“Sales have been brisk,” Weinberg said, as 27 of her 39 pieces in the shop had already sold, and she was asked to bring in more.
Over the six days the shop has been open, sales have been “robust” and “above initial projection,” Spencer said. There have been an average of 30 transactions per day, she said, and the New Art Shop anticipates the overall gross sales for the nine sale days will be close to $20,000.
Sayaka Rawizza, a ceramic artist and instructor at the New Art Center, said the shop was “important to support the community.”
She said the shop was “an ideal style” for her this year during the pandemic, as it was less crowded and better ventilated in comparison to more traditional art fairs.
Sarah Kahn, a mixed media collage artist and New Art Center instructor, said within the first night, she received a call from the shop that she had already sold four of her pieces and they wanted her to bring in two more.
“I was so excited to think about selling myself to the community,” Kahn said.
Weinberg said it’s more important to her for people to “have my pieces in their home” than the money made from the sales.
“Having a venue for local artists to sell their work is really important to the community,” Weinberg said.
O’Neil said the New Art Shop is the only store in Newton selling work exclusively made by local artists.
“We’re hoping that people will shop locally, support local artists, support the community, and allow us to move this forward as a permanent retail venture,” O’Neil said.
The shop will be open for its last weekend of the season Friday, Dec. 10, through Sunday, Dec. 12. Hours can be found on the website.
Katherine Hapgood can be reached at email@example.com.