International Art Materials Association

January 30, 2019

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Namta's 2019 Hall of Fame Recipient

Hayley Prendergast

As a family business, Hayley had worked summers at Grafix and remembers putting together customer binders in the dining room to make some extra money. But joining the family business was not her long-term plan. After graduating from college with an Art History degree, Hayley received a ‘personal’ want ad in the mail from her father. She decided to take him up on the offer on a trial basis and negotiated her starting role as product manager and joined Grafix in 1992. Now, after the 27 years, moving through a variety of roles; product manager, marketing manager, sales manager, VP of Sales & Marketing, President of Consumer Products and finally Owner with her brother after buying the business when their father retired in 2002, it has indeed become her long term plan. In her time at Grafix it has grown both in size and scope, expanding their range of products, facility size as well as their sales reach globally.  

Through her tenure in the Art Materials industry Hayley served on a several committees; including at the start of her career, when asked to join a tradeshow committee to bring new “perspective” to the subject. She helped with the NAMTA Foundation, now Art Matters, and Dues Committee, but made her major contribution to the industry beginning in 2008 with seven years on the NAMTA Board; three years as a member, four on Namta's Executive Committee with one year as president. There is no question, she believes we all need to put in our time to support each other and the greater good of the Art Materials Community so we can, not just survive, but thrive.

If you need help renewing your 2019 Membership dues, contact Sue Cohen.

If you need help registering, contact Karen Brown.

Or call 704.892.6244.

How to Shop Your Competition

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender

How often do you mystery shop your competition – in person, online and on social medias? Monthly, yearly? Never? Shopping your competition is an exercise that needs to happen at least once a quarter.

Here’s what to do:
  • Make a list of everything you need to know about each competitor. When we mystery shop we carefully examine the operational categories in the store, and then rate each one on a scale of 1 to 10. It’s an opinion, but it’s a good one. Yours will be, too.
  • Begin by determining where you stand in your marketplace. Send someone you trust to a public place near your store to ask people if they can recommend a good art supply store. If your store is mentioned first, you have built Top Of The Mind Awareness – good job! If you are not mentioned first, or worse, not at all, you have some work to do to build local word of mouth.
  • Ask a friend who paints mystery shop your store. Your perception of how you are doing could be tremendously different from the customers’ perception. We did this exercise with a retailer who thought his store the best, so we took him to visit a new competitor’s store, and then came back to do the same exercise in his store. It was an eye opener; he realized how much work he had to do to bring his store up to speed.
  • You don’t have to do it all by yourself. If you are uncomfortable or may be recognized, send a store associate, friend or family member. Maybe even a loyal customer. Try to stop in occasionally just to say hello, and casually look around while you are there.
Try our “How Did It Feel’ exercise:

Have your associates visit the competition posing as typical customers, going through all of the steps outlined in this article. When the associates return, ask them to document their visits, breaking down everything they experienced in each area of the store. After each comment ask, “How did it feel?” You’ll learn what that competitor did well and where they fell down. Compare those findings with what happens in your store.
  • Note your first impression. Is the competitor’s store interesting from the minute you approach it? How are the store windows? Shoppers access your window displays in eight seconds or less, so they can’t be too elaborate. Once inside, the average shopper makes a value judgement about a store – good or bad – in just 10 seconds or less: What vibe does the store give? What happens just beyond the Decompression Zone, the first 5 to 10 feet inside the front door?
  • Analyze the customer flow. Does the sales floor layout create and control how customer traffic flows through the store? A retail study found that 50 percent of shoppers never see the entire sales floor. Does this competitor easily move shoppers from department to department?
  • Rate the in-store experience. Is it a fun place to shop or merely a place to buy “stuff? Do customers linger or get in and out? Stop in each important area of the sales floor and watch shoppers, trying to see the merchandising and customer service through their eyes. Watch how shoppers enter the store, which way they go and why, plus what they look at, how long they linger in specific areas, along with what they buy and return.
  •  Rate the overall appearance of sales floor. Does it motivate shoppers to buy? What do they do to highlight important product? Is the
    merchandise fresh or dated? Is the sales floor neat and clean? Are displays well maintained and dust free? Are they unique?
Is cash wrap organized and merchandised with impulse items? Is it clutter free? Where are important basics and hot sellers located on the sales floor? Are displays merchandised as a destination product (think milk and eggs in a grocery store) or as impulse purchases? Are the displays clearly signed and is the merchandise clearly and competitively priced? Don’t forget to visit the classrooms and rest rooms, too.
  • How does the retailer differentiate between full price and markdown merchandise? Where and how is reduced and clearance product merchandised: in its regular department or in a special clearance area?
  • Does the store have a signing program? Is it effective? Does it reinforce the overall feeling of the store’s brand? Are signs well-placed and legible? Is there a standard format or are they handwritten and taped to fixtures?
  • What’s the pricing perception compared to yours? Is the retailer trying to convey an upscale, high level of quality service combined with a unique experience or as a discount merchant with little apparent visual merchandising?
  • Are the associates attentive to shopper needs? Is there adequate coverage and people available to help with difficult customer questions? Put the store associates through their paces to find out if they possess specialized skills and strong product knowledge. Do they focus on customers or sales floor maintenance?
  • Check out each competitor’s Yelp business page weekly. Review yours, too. Think you don’t have a Yelp page? You may have one even if you didn’t set it up. If a customer decides to review your store that review will create a page for you. Claim it, and review it to see what is being said. Fill in all the areas, add photos, respond to comments – good and bad – and then monitor it weekly. Daily, if you are getting lots of reviews. And don’t worry about cost; it’s free.
  •  Monitor the ZMOTs (Zero Moments of Truths) that happen online before shoppers choose to visit your store. Google Alerts are still important but you’ll want to set up free accounts with to and to learn what’s being said about your store online. Each of these sites will email you a link each time you are mentioned that will take you directly to that website. We have alerts set up for ourselves, our company, and each company/competitor we want to monitor. In addition, Facebook Pages to Watch allows you to do an automatic daily comparison with your competition’s Facebook pages. Don’t worry about the competition finding out, it’s anonymous. They will know someone is following them but they won’t know that it’s you.
Let’s review!
  • Review the 1 to 10 grades you gave the competition in each of the above categories, and then compare your store to each competitor to determine where and what you need to change.
Now, review each associate's “How Did It Feel?” exercise findings and merge your experience with what the associates’ experienced. What you saw and felt will likely be very different from your teams – that’s a good thing.
  • Create a Hit List. You have now established a list of things you need to change and improve. Make a list and make changes to your store accordingly, checking them off the list as you go.
Sam Walton was famous for spending quality time in every kind of retail establishment you can imagine; he believed that he could find at least one even in the schlockiest joints. Sam also believed that to succeed in retail you have to change all the time. What one idea can you take from each mystery shopping experience and apply to your store?

Keep on top of every retail trend, industry update, and competitor.  Someday, you could find yourself in a serious competitive battle with a store you thought was totally out of your league. Commit to shopping your competition, and regardless of what you find vow to try it, fix it, change it – do it!


About the Authors
Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are contributors to MSNBC’s Your Business. They made Meetings & Conventions Magazine's list of Meeting Planners Favorite Keynote Speakers and have been named two of Retailing's Most Influential People. As global retail thought leaders, KIZER & BENDER are listed among the Top 40 Omnichannel Retail Influencers, Top 50 Retail Influencers, and the Top Retail Industry Experts to Follow on Social Media. Their award-winning Retail Adventures Blog is consistently listed among important retail and small business blogs. KIZER & BENDER serve as BrainTrust panelists for RetailWire and are partners and emcees for the popular Independent Retailer Conference. Get in touch at: 630.513.8020 | [email protected] |

February 24th is getting close!

Here are a few things that are good to know

•   Art Materials World 2019 will be located in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

•  You can see the Art Materials World Floorplan and List of Exhibitors online.

•  Namta's Host Hotel, Hilton Palacio del Rio, is located right on the River Walk, very close to the Convention Center.   River Walk Map

•  Downtown San Antonio Parking - see pricing information and map.

•  Art Materials World 2019 will be co-located with CAMEX, The Campus Market Expo, the largest trade show in the collegiate retailing industry, attended by college store buyers from around the world. All registered attendees for Art Materials World and CAMEX will have unlimited access to both trade show floors.

V I S I T   A R T   M A T E R I A L S   W O R L D   O N   F A C E B O O K



Online and Brick and Mortar Shoppers
from The Balance Small Business
by Susan Ward, updated Dec. 7, 2018

Why Customers Shop Online

  • Being able to shop 24/7Saving money - online shopping allows the customer to compare pricing and find the best possible deals
  • Not having to use a personal vehicle and deal with parking and other issues or take transit to shop in-store
  • Saving time - in-store shopping can be hugely time consuming, particularly if it involves visits to multiple stores in different locations
  • Convenience - many people dislike crowds, cashier lineups, etc. and prefer to shop from home
  • Availability - hard to find items are much easier to source online
  • Free shipping is sometimes available from online vendors.

Why Customers Shop Brick-and-Mortar

  • Being able to physically interact with an item before buying, particularly with personal items such as clothes, cosmetics, furniture, etc. or with grocery items that need to be checked for quality and freshness
  • Goods can be obtained immediately rather than waiting for shipping
  • Customer service - the ability to speak directly to a sales representative and get further information and advice about products or services
  • Avoiding shipping costs
  • Avoiding the hassle and complexity of returning unwanted items
  • Much faster and easier to return a defective or unwanted product in-store rather than shipping back to an online retailer
  • The experience - many people enjoy a shopping outing in retail stores, often with spouses or friends and conjunction with other activities such as dining, having a specialty coffee, etc.

Notable Quote

"There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there."  - Indira Gandhi

Painting by Artist Mario Donizetti


Art Advocacy


Business Improvement in Colorado Historic Corridor Tied to the Arts

Posted by Bill Marino, Jan 17, 2019 on Americans for the Arts ArtsBlog

Small business is the heartbeat of the economy - that’s certainly the case here in Lakewood, Colorado - population 155,000 in a city that occupies 44 square miles between Denver and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We have seven large organizations with 1000+ employees, but nearly 7000 entities employ 50 or fewer. Primary employers are critical. But the math is crystal clear … small business rules the road.

But as the new millennium arrived, not every part of our City’s economic engine was hitting on all cylinders. Lakewood’s 40 West Arts District is located in the oldest part of our City along West Colfax Avenue—a historic commercial corridor that is just now emerging from 30 years of economic decline.

What got the economy rolling? First some context: Colfax Avenue has been connected to the cultural and commercial activity in Denver’s metro area for 150+ years. Colfax Avenue - U.S. Route 40 - is part of the old Victory Highway from Atlantic City to San Francisco dedicated in 1926. The Lakewood section of the historic avenue has a story to tell that’s all its own. West Colfax - known as “the Gateway to the Rockies” - was the place to be in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Brimming with neon-bedazzled restaurants, supper clubs, motels, and night spots—even a lighted golf course—it was an entertainment hotspot. The world visited West Colfax to get to the Rocky Mountains. Along West Colfax, mid-century buildings and multi-generational businesses continue to embody the Colfax character, a carryover from the 1950s car culture and America’s love of the open road. West Colfax speaks to the “Americana” in all of us. Its heritage and heart—the neon and neighborhoods, the diners and dance halls, the motor inns and motorcycles, and now the galleries and gathering places—all reflect its glitter and grit. But with the completion of the Interstate in the 1970s and re-routed traffic patterns, West Colfax spiraled into an economic abyss. While its importance as a transportation corridor was supplanted by the modern interstate system, it was never forgotten by the legions who experienced its character.

Today, West Colfax is re-emerging with the arts at the vanguard of its renaissance. Productive alliances among residents, the arts community, local business, and our municipality were key to creating momentum. Working together, we developed a shared vision for the future—one that was forward-looking but authentic to the community’s context and history. It was a dream that envisioned returning West Colfax to its glory days as a destination—this time with art at the epicenter. The vision resonated with locals, and it made business sense as well.

(right picture) Art installation, entitled “Dermal Plate Gateway” by PUNCH, is one of 70+ installations along the 40 West ArtLine ( Photo by Will Strathmann.


(left picture) During a meeting of the Denver-area Metro Mayors Caucus, local mayors pose in front of one of 40 West Art District’s newest murals, “The Lakewood Lion” by Giuseppe Percivati, located on 4th floor deck of West Line Flats.

For us, engaged citizens, civic and business leaders, policymakers, and city staff, business and the arts were inextricably linked. We showcased compelling statistics from Americans for the Arts and state-based organizations, including Colorado Creative Industries and Colorado Business Committee for the Arts—each offering rock-solid data. We also spoke to the intangible benefits. Why? Because these speak to the human spirit—the notion that art and the creative process is what makes us uniquely human—that art supports health, happiness, and overall quality of life . . . read Bill Marino's entire blog

Civic dialogue is when communities discuss issues, policies, and challenges in people's lives, communities, and society. The arts are a powerful facilitator for positive dialogue and engagement.

See More Facts


New Product

Craft Plastic Film

Grafix announces a creative addition which expands their Craft Plastic Film line! Films to make your own 3D elements, embellishments, stencils and a mixed media surface that will coordinate with any artistic project and more now included in Grafix Craft Plastic Film line  . . .
Read more about Grafix Craft Plastic Film and see all the New Products listed.


New Members

Welcome to new retailer member PTC Toys Corp. Contact [email protected]

  Artworks Fine Art Studio has three studios located in the Washington DC area. Artworks teaches art to all ages, and host camps, parties, and exhibits. They plan to expand into the retail end of art, both to help our students have access to the very best art supplies, as well as the community.

Alva Graphics, located in Houston, Texas, sells materials and services to artists, including graphic, printing and reproduction - frames and custom framing - a large selection of aerosol paint, caps and marker - and traditional paints and brushes as well as media, pens, pencils and crayons.

Understanding the challenges and opportunities for today’s brand managers, ORIS Intelligence delivers actionable insights that preserve pricing integrity for manufacturers to help them protect their brand. The approach is backed by PROWL, a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that monitors the entire Web, including marketplaces, on an ongoing basis.

Humacao School Supply,
located in Puerto Rico, sells educational material and games, office supplies, and a wide variety of basic and professional art materials.

Queen City Framing & Art Supplies in Helena, Montana is a locally owned and operated store offering fine art supplies, custom framing, and ready made frames with experienced customer service. All of the staff are artists themselves! They show different emerging Montana artists each month as well as teach workshops in subjects from calligraphy to watercolor to encaustics.

Turner & Su (Matthew Turner and Jeremy Su) are experienced online retailers purchasing a wide variety of products from distributors and brands. They plan to launch their own brand in 2019 in the Arts and Crafts category.

Member News

ACTÍVA Products, based in Marshall Texas, is celebrating its 60th Anniversary. ACTÍVA is kicking off its celebration year with an exciting Sand Art Contest and new products and packaging throughout 2019.
ACTÍVA is a 2019 Art Materials World Exhibitor

Don Dow, CEO and owner of Artograph, recently celebrated his 40th anniversary with the company. Don brought to Artograph a strong sense of advocacy for art education, having been a high school art teacher. This connection to art education remains with Artograph to this day as the company frequently donates art materials to schools and art education programs. Under Don Dow’s guidance, Artograph also supports the community by employing special needs workers from a local program, with some transitioning into full-time staff members.

Don served as president of Namta 2008 - 2009, with a President’s Party that year which is the stuff of legend. In 2011 he was named to the Namta Hall of Fame. “…there is no better place to meet your fellow colleagues to exchange ideas, get advice, see new products and get great deals,” Don said of the Namta's Art Materials World.
Artograph is a 2019 Art Materials World Exhibitor




Namta staff is always looking for Web articles that might be of interest to you.


4 Essential but Little Known Tips for Building a Customer Friendly Business
Have you ever asked yourself why you choose to go to a specific bar or restaurant instead of all the other bars and restaurants out there? You go there so often that you’re on a first name basis with some of the waiters. Some of them know you’re regular even before you order...

How to Make Family Business Succession Successful
Advice for owners about handing over the reins wisely…

San Clemente Art Supply
The shop (pictured)
and the framing business,
and will remain for sale for the next couple of months.

If you or someone you know is interested,
please contact Patti Herdell at  949-369-6603 or
[email protected]



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