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Playing With Wet Paint: Storeowner Beth Bergman celebrates 25th anniversary

Summer 2009
by Tina Manzer
When Hugh Huelster turned Wet Paint’s keys over to me 25 years ago, I didn’t know what I was getting into,” wrote Beth Bergman in the latest newsletter about her St. Paul store. “Without formalized business training, I approached Wet Paint very much like a painting. Incorporating the creative impulse into the operation of a business hasn’t always been easy, but it has been not only rewarding, but sustainable.”

Her 3,400-foot store located on Grand Avenue, St. Paul’s Miracle Mile of independent retailers, is a delight for anyone, artist or not. Products offered range from tie-dye kits and aerosol art supplies, to all styles and formats of canvases and a “multiverse” of pads, journals, sketchbooks and notebooks. And that’s just scratching the surface.

Wet Paint is open every day, Mondays through Fridays, 10 in the morning until 8 at night, Saturdays 10 to 6 and Sundays noon to 5. To cover all of those hours, Beth employs 15 people, all of them artists in one specialty or another. Three of the 15 are also buyers.

When I visited in June, the store was celebrating Beth’s anniversary with a month-long canvas sale. “The biggest selection of canvas at the biggest discounts that Wet Paint has ever offered” featured over 60 sizes and depths of Art Alternatives canvas at 50- to 70-percent off.

I did not purchase canvas (unlike the other shoppers there on a busy Sunday afternoon) but as a non-artist/creative-type person, I found many beautiful and unique items to use and to gift, including a beginner watercolor set made in Russia, several variety packs of blank artists trading cards (see page 26), several kinds of notebooks and a funky display mobile.

Wet Paint inspires and motivates. A number of clever, hand-created signs directed me to items I might have missed amidst so many displayed, and helped me make purchasing decisions. A whole lot of them.

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