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Hyatt's art store moving to Elmwood as online business grows

It seems to be business as usual at Hyatt's All Things Creative. But everything in the attic above the bustling art supply store and everything in the basement below it has been cleared out. After Saturday, everything in the retail space will be gone, too.

After 58 years, Hyatt's will close its store at 910 Main St. Saturday and relocate to a new, larger location at 1941 Elmwood Ave. on Jan. 24. Hyatt's Clarence store at 8565 Main St. will close for good the day before, on Jan. 23.

It's a sea change for the art supply business that has been Buffalo's go-to place for creative provisions for over half a century, and for the customers who have relied on Hyatt's inventory, expertise and friendly customer service.

Ruth McCarthy carried two glass bottles through Hyatt's Monday afternoon – Gamsol and Galkyd Lite. A Hyatt's employee had taught her 10 years earlier how to use them together as the finishing touch on her oil paintings, and she has been doing it ever since.

It's just one of many ways Hyatt's has helped her grow as an artist over the years.

"They're terrific. They're all so knowledgeable and helpful," she said. "They've always been able to help me figure anything out."

McCarthy is going to miss walking to the Main Street store from her home on Bryant Street. The new Elmwood Avenue location will be a haul from her studio at the Tri-Main Center but, as a customer of 40 years, she'll be sure to follow, she said.

August Lascola, a surrealist painter who shares his tricks with McCarthy and other artists who come to shop, has worked at the Main Street store for 20 years. He's excited about the new location but, like everyone else, he's going to miss the old one.

"It's 20 years, man. I'm anchored," he said. "It's gonna feel sad looking into this space when it's empty."

Though he has always walked to work, he'll now have to take the No. 20 bus. He'll also have to start bringing lunch to work, because he'll no longer be able to hit Panaro's or any of his other restaurant hangouts.

Tucked into a mix of industrial buildings and retail plazas near the Regal Cinemas Elmwood Center 16, the new location seems geared more toward cars and trucks than passersby. But, with the majority of Hyatt's business being done online and catering to customers around the globe, that makes sense.

 

The move, which includes a larger retail area, will allow the new store to function more seamlessly as an online fulfillment center, with four loading docks and a lot more space for a shipping hub.

"We're all really excited about taking this next step. We've been in business in what will be our 60th anniversary this year, and growing very rapidly for the past seven to 10 years," said Seth Martin, Hyatt's purchasing manager.

"We outgrew our space on Main Street," he said.

The new 42,000-square-foot location will be the largest independent art supply store in the country, Martin said. The space includes the retail store, warehouse and office space. The retail space will have 15,000 square feet, one-third more than the combined retail areas in the closing Buffalo and Clarence stores.

Martin said it is "very likely" more people will be added to the company's workforce of 50.

"The biggest thing I would say is that I think the new location is going to be really great for the entire Buffalo arts community and creative community," Martin said. "I think that because of all the space and all the things we do outside of the immediate area, we are able to offer a much larger selection, and a much deeper inventory than we otherwise would be able to."

Hyatt's opened in 1959 on Franklin Street in a 200-square-foot storefront. The art supply business moved to Main Street in 1961, eventually expanding to take over four other retail spaces.

As a result, the existing sales floor and behind-the-scenes spaces were pieced together and compartmentalized. The store has three floors and a mezzanine. The basement is made up of several different rooms rather than the open floor plan you might see in a warehouse.

The new location, however, has everything on one floor and has a much more workflow-friendly layout.

But the Elmwood store isn't just designed to make delivery trucks and online shoppers happy. There is plenty for brick-and-mortar customers to be excited about, too.

The new digs will have room for expanded product lines, and more variety in products and package sizes. More colors of Gamblin oil paints will be available in larger tubes, for example. There will be enough room on shelves for the 8-ounce jars of Procion dyes, so customers won't have to ask an employee to get them from the basement. Classes will continue as well.

The store will also have a more streamlined, polished look. It may even look downright fancy, with its new glass display counters. And, which may be most exciting for thrifty artists, there will also be a "scratch and dent" section, where customers can buy discounted merchandise that was returned by Amazon shoppers.

And that's just the beginning.

"A lot of our growing pains will be resolved," said Chris Piontkowski, a manager at the Main Street store. "Every time there was a new product it was like, 'Where are we gonna put this?' Now we have lots of space. It's exciting."

News reporter Mark Sommer contributed to this article.

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