Local artists now have their own retail holiday

Glass artist Iva Kalikow - Sources: Artists Sunday
Nov 17, 2022

Artists Sunday, a new artist-focused retail holiday, looks like it is picking up steam in an already crowded calendar of holiday shopping days and its organizers hope to make it the most profitable day of the year for local artists.

The event launched during the first year of the pandemic and now features a lineup of around 4,500 participating professional artists and 500 non-profit organizations nationwide, according to a press release. The holiday takes place on November 27, the day after Small Business Saturday and the day before Cyber Monday.

Customers are encouraged to shop for the work of local, independent artists and utilize the #ShopArt hashtag on social media. Paintings, pottery, jewelry and textiles are some of the products customers can expect to find available for purchase from participants on that day. Businesses are encouraged to host special items from local artists to take part in the holiday.

This is not the only recent retail initiative designed to promote interest in independent artists, with partnerships between major retailers and local creators popping up nationwide.

Meijer in late 2021 put out a call for local artists to submit their work to potentially appear on products sold in the stores in 2023, according to a WKBN report. The contest asked that applicants create art based around one of a few different categories celebrating cultural events. The two winners in each category will receive a $5,000 prize and will be able to choose a non-profit organization with which to share 10 percent of the proceeds of the sales from the products on which the art appears.

The new Starbucks Reserve location in the Empire State Building will feature and sell curated merchandise created by local artists on its first floor, according to a press release.

Local business-focused shopping holiday Small Business Saturday has also been trying to expand its reach this season, CNBC reports. American Express, which founded the holiday in 2010, recently partnered with TikTok ahead of Small Business Saturday to provide small businesses resources to reach customers on the platform.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: Should regional and national chain retailers consider partnering with local artists for Artists Sunday? How can retailers manage such relationships and promotions without seeming inauthentic?

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"I see this as a win for the customer, the artists and the retailer."

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7 Comments on "Local artists now have their own retail holiday"

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Richard Hernandez

I would have thought they would partner with the Small Business Saturday group to bolster that movement. It would get them a leg up on a movement that I believe has been building an increased audience each year.

Ken Morris

Local restaurants have been showcasing local artists forever, often letting customers buy artwork straight off the wall. Just like the locavore movement with food, so too should the same hold true for artists. Supporting your local arts scene will drive store traffic. I see this as a win for the customer, the artists and the retailer.

Let’s not forget that each of these artists is trying their hardest to survive as a business owner while producing their art. Not easy, so this type of partnership can be quite powerful. I think this is one way for big brands to stay fresh and relevant, too. Otherwise, it’s too easy to have their creative agencies essentially guessing at how to express their brands through art at a local level.

I’m not so sure why picking Sunday was the best idea for this day, though. I understand that it’s sandwiched between Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, but Sunday has never been the biggest day for retail. Though any day is better than none!

Georganne Bender

Much of our company’s work is in the creative industry, but I have not heard of Artists Sunday until today. Maybe that’s my bad, but I wonder how many retailers are aware of it, particularly independents who can really make a difference here.

You know who does a great job with local artists, particularly jewelry designers? Hospital gift shops. So, yes one of a kind and handmade items definitely have a place in stores, but why place the emphasis on one day that’s part of an already crowded weekend? Limited time pop-up shops work, and so do sections of curated assortments from local artists as part of the store’s everyday selection. Partnering with retailers on Small Business Saturday makes sense, too.

Melissa Minkow

As someone who loves supporting local artists and most often ends up discovering them by way of galleries, I love this but worry about the consumer awareness it will drive. Partnering with retailers to showcase art is always a great idea but doesn’t seem to disrupt the status quo enough. It would be great to see artists exhibiting in concert halls and on commuting paths where passers by are already artistically interested or have extra time for observation. Ultimately, there are so many opportunities to showcase local art, so hopefully the attention this shopping holiday gets will inspire more art placement in areas where consumers can confront the pieces.

Ryan Mathews

As an artist myself all I can say is not just yes, but hell yes! My only quibble is, why shouldn’t that partnership continue for the other 364 days? Local artists are accessible, prices are generally reasonable, and it may be one of those elusive win-wins people like to talk about. And considering the pathetic state of most public school art programs which are chronically underfunded, why not partner with local schools to show the work of young artists from the neighborhood/city/town? There’s nothing inauthentic about interacting in a positive way with your community.

Doug Garnett

My first thought, despite being married to an artist and good friends with many more, was “another special shopping day?” The clutter of special days is becoming quite a problem. I don’t think we are on Oprah, where she would be saying “…and you get a special day… and you get a special day…” Not all ideas like this will work out.

Craig Sundstrom

Yet another “day,” huh? Another noble cause, certainly, but is it just me or is the idea of national chain retailers and a national event somehow a little antithetical to the whole idea of what a local artist is?

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