Make us your home page
Instagram

Artists mourn as St. Petersburg's Art Supply Store prepares to shutter in June

Pat Jennings, whose art supplies business helped breathe life into the city's now iconic street murals, says he's closing shop for good after nearly 15 years in St. Petersburg.

The Art Supply Store at 2429 Central Ave. permanently discounted all its merchandise by 50 to 70 percent on Tuesday, with plans to shutter in June.

Surrounded by blank canvases and tidy rows of pencils, tubes and spray cans containing every conceivable color, plus a vibrant collection of paintings gifted to him by some of the area's best-known artists, Jennings, 65, said the decision was made quickly.

"There are two reasons," he said, between answering a deluge of phone calls coming in after he'd shared the news on Facebook. "Declining sales due to the Internet, and increased rents due to the overwhelming success of this community."

He motioned toward the door, and the developing Grand Central District beyond it.

"It's a consequence of growth and popularity, coupled with greed," he said of rising rents in the neighborhood. "I get it. I'm a businessman."

The closing is a "heavy hit" for the art community, said Leon Bedore, artist and director of the annual Shine Mural Festival, who is better known as Tes One.

Jennings' store stocked aerosol paint in unique colors, and sold cans with the specialized nozzles artists prefer, back when those items were a rarity in Tampa Bay.

"Pat supported the street art scene here since before there was a street art scene here," Bedore said. "He was the first to bring in those type of paints, and make them available locally. He was a sponsor of Shine, and really, a lot of the murals in St. Petersburg were made possible through him."

Years before Shine, Jennings helped organize Urban Elements, a graffiti art event that attracted noted artists from New York and San Francisco to paint walls in Grand Central. The twist, at the time, was that the artists had permission.

Later he played a role in inviting local artists to paint some of the first large-scale graffiti pieces in the now-heavily-painted Warehouse Arts District.

"He was instrumental in getting a graffiti and street art vibe going in the area," said Johnny Vitale of St. Petersburg-based mural and sign company Vitale Bros. "A lot of art stores back then were just selling canvases to old ladies. Not him. ... That store is like our home base. That's where we go in the morning to meet with our coffee before we go paint."

For years, the business had been growing along with St. Petersburg's reputation as an art hub. The store moved 1,500 cans of paint during the most recent Shine festival, Jennings said.

"I've been shopping there since my kids were little, and they're teenagers now," said artist Jennifer Kosharek. "And every time I'm in there I run into another artist I know."

But sales began to drop in late 2016. Jennings hoped it was just a side effect of road work in the neighborhood, but things didn't improve this year.

"I'm not mad at people for shopping online. I get it," he said. "The ironic thing is that this is such a thriving art city, but even here, this store has to close."

From their home in Manhattan, where he worked as a corporate recruiter, Jennings and his then-wife "watched 9/11 happen" and decided it was time to go.

They settled in St. Petersburg in 2002 and opened a store at 689 Central Ave (now Urban Creamery). Jennings later moved west to 1144 Central Ave., then moved west again to the current location seven years ago.

He plans to remain in St. Petersburg and throw himself full time into his work as a competitive cycling coach.

"This is paradise," he said, noting that he'd ridden more than 40 miles that morning.

The store is set to close on June 30.

Artists mourn as St. Petersburg's Art Supply Store prepares to shutter in June 05/10/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 8:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The Iron Yard coding academy to close in St. Petersburg

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Iron Yard, a code-writing academy with a location in downtown St. Petersburg, will close for good this summer.

    Instructors (from left) Mark Dewey, Jason Perry, and Gavin Stark greet the audience at The Iron Yard, 260 1st Ave. S, in St. Petersburg during "Demo Day" Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, at The Iron Yard, which is an immersive code school that is part of a trend of trying to address the shortage of programmers.  The academy is closing this summer.  [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. Florida's unemployment rate drops for fourth straight month

    Markets

    How low can Florida's unemployment go? Pretty low, according to the state's latest unemployment numbers. The Sunshine State's unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent for June, down from 4.3 percent in May, state officials said Friday morning.

    Florida's unemployment level dropped to 4.1 percent in June from 4.3 percent in May. |  [Times file photo]
  3. Is sinkhole damage sinking Tampa Bay property values?

    Real Estate

    On a scale of desirability, the house for sale on Whittner Drive in Land O' Lakes would rank fairly low. It's a short sale; it sits on an unstabilized sinkhole and it's within a few miles of two houses that collapsed into a gargantuan hole July 16.

    A gated community in Hernando's Spring Hill area, Pristine Place has long been susceptible to sinkholes with nearly a third of its houses with documented sinkhole damage by 2012. Today, however, many houses with repaired sinkhole damage are selling for more than houses without any issues. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times file photo]
  4. The real estate pros in charge of Tampa's $3 billion makeover are younger than you think

    Working Life

    TAMPA — Brooke May, a 36-year-old senior construction project manager, knew she wanted to work for Strategic Property Partners the minute she met some team members involved with the group's massive downtown Tampa makeover.

    Matt Davis, Vice President of Development posed for a portrait in the Strategic Property Partners office in Channelside on July 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  5. St. Pete Beach may loosen beach drinking rules for hotel guests

    Local Government

    ST. PETE BEACH — Drinking a beer, a cocktail or a glass of wine may soon be legal on this city's beaches, but only for hotel guests in and around their hotel's beachfront cabanas.

    Registered hotel guests would be able to drink alcoholic beverages at their cabanas on the beach under a new rule the St. Pete Beach City Commission is considering.