Featured Retailer: Dots ‘N Doodles
From Dennis Metcalf, Key Accounts Manager at Royal Talens North America:
Dots N’ Doodles is a specialty art store, located in the quaint town of Astoria on the beautiful Oregon Coastline. Proprietors Scott and Tim work hard to know and understand the needs of their customer base, which extends beyond Astoria to include many of the surrounding coastal communities. This close association with their customers gives Scott and Tim helpful insight into the products they need, offering a wonderful comprehensive selection within each category they stock.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and doing business with Scott and Tim for close to a decade, and I can say with surety that they are not shy about jumping in with both feet when it comes to a project they believe in. Shortly after NAMTA, I disclosed to them a new Royal Talens promotional program I was contemplating for key accounts across the country:
The plan was to create a two-day promotional event which we would call “Colours of Holland”, that would showcase all of our wonderful Dutch products in a lively and festive setting. The event would feature demos, classes, and a special showing of the Academy Award-nominated movie, “Loving Vincent”. In addition there would be a special class taught by the two artists who actually worked on the movie. Charlene Mosley and Tiffanie Mang were to teach the techniques they used to create paintings in the beautiful style of Van Gogh. So we launched this first event with Dots N’ Doodles as one of two tests we will conduct this year, before expanding the opportunity to other retailers in 2019. We consider the event in Astoria to have been a great success!
We are all grateful to Dots N’ Doodles for all their hard work and enthusiasm, which brought us all closer to many artists that call the Northwest Coast their home.
From Scott Leahing, Owner at Dots ‘N Doodles Art Supplies:
Dots ‘N Doodles Art Supplies is an independent art store, nestled in a small hill side community of 10,000 residents on the north Oregon coast. We are the only complete art materials retailer within a 100 mile range, the nearest being Portland Oregon. Our customer base extends down the Oregon coast, up into SW Washington and we frequently have out of town customers who visit regularly.
When Tim and I moved to Astoria Oregon in 2006 we noticed that it had a very vibrant artist community, there were several galleries, art walk and all sorts of art related events. Since then it has continued to grow and become stronger, encompassing not only the Oregon North Coast but also SW Washington as well. But what Astoria didn’t have was an art store. “NO ART STORE – where do people get their supplies?” With that Dots ‘N Doodles Art Supplies was born, January of 2007, opening its doors in April of the same year. Tim and I without hesitation said “we can do this”. Tim with a mechanical operational background and me with a psychology and fine arts background started with a 2000 sq.ft space and in 2010 moved to our current location adding another 2000 sq. feet. We have been here ever since.
We describe ourselves as the big little art store. We balance a blend of the ‘mom ‘n pop’ welcoming atmosphere with a comprehensive knowledge base of our art materials, a large inventory and strong relationships with our manufacturers, retailer friends, distributors and educators. Additionally, we have partnered with our friends above us, The Astoria Art Loft, which provides gallery space, studios, classes and workshops. Together we have become a local art center in Astoria.
One of our main strategies and appeal is in creating vignettes or centers if you will in our store. These centers offer comprehensive product lines that the customer might immerse themselves in and which may not be easily found elsewhere. We offer very competitive pricing while maintaining very high quality materials. We keep our aisles clear, the store clean and products easily visible. Our store mascot and namesake, Doodles, greets everyone. I daresay he has his own regular visitors and he sets the tone when customers visit our store with his intense lovable stare (our FedEx guy brings him a part of his sandwich whenever he comes in).
One of our important practices is to remember everyone’s names and recognize them when they come in. It is so important, especially in the era of online shopping, that personal attention is given and it goes a very long way; we will offer coffee and provide a large comfortable chair for customers to sit in. Equally as important is to engage the customer to help identify what their needs are; there are times when we have to up sell but there are also times when we believe it is a appropriate to ‘down sell’. My favorite phrases are: “buy the best you can afford”, “buy less but buy better’ and “you don’t need a sledge hammer to rid yourself of an ant” (in other words sometimes you don’t need to buy the most expensive to accomplish a specific task).
Tim and I met Dennis Metcalf many years ago and over that time we have become friends. Dennis, who is a key account manager with Royal Talens, has the experience, the knowledge base and the passion, which inspires, and he has certainly inspired us with the array of very high quality products that Royal Talens offers. At this point, Amsterdam paint is the number one selling item in our store. With the advent of Royal Talens taking charge in the US and with Dennis Metcalf on board we are partnering with a company that has the range of products and level of quality at prices our community can afford. We plan to continue developing our relationship with Royal Talens.
Dennis approached Tim and I and asked if we would be interested in partnering to do a “Colours of Holland” event. The idea was very appealing and we jumped at the opportunity to showcase our store as well as the range of Royal Talens products that we carry. As the months passed Dennis put together the agenda and coordinated the in-store event. We were very fortunate to meet and to have two of the artists involved with the film production Loving Vincent participate in this two day event. In addition to table top demonstrations where customers dropped in we also had a sign up workshop. There was such interest in the workshop led by the most charming artists Charlene Mosely and Tiffanie Mang that we added a second workshop the following day which was also filled. Royal Talens provided the paints and a variety of supplies, along with all of the marketing support. In addition to that we were also supported by Art Alternatives, Fredrix, Princeton Brushes, and Artograph in putting on this fun and successful event. If there is one thing that I can say came out of the weekend was that our visitors became aware of products such as Amsterdam paint, Van Gogh oils, Ecoline inks, Bruynzeel colored pencils and more that they were not aware of before this. They were engaged and interested in using these products and I suspect will continue to be.
Final thought: know your products, develop a strong partnership with you suppliers, offer friendly individualized customer service, be kind and have fun.