Kamini Purushothaman, Contributing Photographer

For nearly a decade, Artist & Craftsman Supply has provided local creatives with an array of materials spanning the visual arts, but come March 3, the chain’s New Haven location will close its doors.

Located at 821-825 Chapel St., the store is part of a national chain headquartered in Maine. On Jan. 8, the New Haven branch announced its imminent closure on Facebook and Instagram. The announcement was immediately met with dismay from the arts community in New Haven.

“The loss of Artist and Craftsman leaves a hole in the New Haven arts community without a doubt,” said New Haven-based multimedia artist Susan Clinard. “There is nothing like it in this region.”

Clinard told the News that the store satisfied her needs as an artist who works with multiple mediums, from wood to paint to clay. She noted that she has been able to find both essential items and obscure supplies at the store, making it particularly convenient.

Jisu Sheen ’20, an artist and an associate at Artist & Craftsman Supply, has worked at the store since 2021. Sheen said her favorite part of working at Artist & Craftsman Supply is connecting with her coworkers. Mentioning their shared humor and camaraderie, she spoke about how her coworkers have helped each other through difficult times.

“We understood each other deeply and supported each other as artists,” she said. 

According to Katro Storm, a portraitist based in Connecticut, the store stands out because of its employees’ dedication and warmth. Storm recounted a recent trip to the store he made in search of large canvases. The store only had two canvases left in stock, so the employees ordered the remaining 13 for him.

Clinard shared Storm’s admiration for the store’s associates. 

“The employees are artists and makers which makes a huge difference in many ways,” she said. “They’re always kind and knowledgeable about materials.”

But for Storm, the employees’ congeniality is particularly special because of the suspicion he is often met with in other art stores. He emphasized that as a Black artist, Artist & Craftsman Supply has always been a welcoming environment.

“When I walk into art stores, employees tend to follow me around and ask if I need help every few minutes, but at Artist & Craftsman, they make me feel like they know me,” he said.

Artist & Craftsman Supply sells materials for experienced artists and beginners alike. They also sell Crayola-brand clay and other products geared towards children, fostering creativity for artists of various skill levels and ages. 

Highlighting the store’s universal appeal, New Haven-based artist Raheem Nelson said the store will be missed because of its “support for artists of all ages.”

Kai Chen ’26 conveyed similar feelings of disappointment about the store’s closing.  

“I’m really sad to see Artist & Craftsman Supply go,” he said. “There’s been multiple times when I’ve asked the staff for their assistance or advice on a project I’m doing, and the staff has always been friendly.” 

News of the store’s forthcoming closure has created a wave of new business that leaves Sheen conflicted, she said. While she is glad to see young artists taking advantage of the store’s closing sale, she is disheartened by the customers with significant buying power, who she wished had been shopping there all along.

Mentioning how some customers have cleared out sections at a time, she said that her workload has grown to several times what it was before the branch announced its closing. She said that shoppers can be impatient because of the store’s recent busyness, but she loves seeing her regular customers.

“If I could tell anything to customers, new and old, it would be, ‘Please be nice to us! We are going through a lot,’” she said. 

Without Artist & Craftsman Supply, Hull’s will be the only remaining art store in the downtown area. While also located on Chapel Street, Hull’s tends to draw more Yale students because of its proximity to campus. 

Sheen said that Pike International, a rental company in New Haven, recently tripled rent for Artist & Craftsman Supply. Sheen speculated that the increase in rent was triggered by the development of luxury apartments across the street. Pike International did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Sheen mentioned that the Dollar General on Chapel Street is also closing which an employee confirmed to the News when reached by phone on Monday. The New Haven Independent reported that the nearby Rite-Aid on Church Street closed down just last month after the company filed for bankruptcy earlier in the fall.

“Some people have told me this is just the start, that the whole block is in trouble now,” she said. 

Sheen said that she and her coworkers are already nostalgic about their time working at the store, especially with the recent influx of customers. Still, she said she has let go of the sadness she initially felt about Artist & Craftsman Supply’s closure, instead choosing to look forward.

“Nothing is permanent, and I think we all have bright futures ahead,” Sheen said of her and her coworkers. “I’m a bit worried about where the people of New Haven will get certain art supplies, but I think we’ll find ways to fill in the gaps.”

Through January, all products at Artist & Craftsman Supply are discounted by 30 percent, which will be increased to 40 percent in February. 

Kamini Purushothaman covers Arts and New Haven. A first-year student in Trumbull College, she is majoring in History.