ST. ALBANS — Retirement hasn’t been going exactly to plan for Michael Baker, but that led to him opening a new shop for novice and professional artists alike right on North Main Street.

Saint Albans Art Supply officially welcomed in the public on Jan. 1 and had a steady stream of interested visitors, who turned into customers, after they learned of the store on social media or got pulled in by their curiosity upon seeing the open flag and sandwich board out front. Baker has been adding to his inventory since then while continuing to improve the interior of a location that had no shelving when he took it over.

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Part of Saint Albans Art Supply is an area for artists to create, and it’s decorated with the works of Shawna Beattie from the Jeffersonville area.

Not only does the shop carry what artists are looking to pick up in person, but it will also provide them with a space to work when pandemic restrictions are relaxed.

“I never thought too much about it,” Baker said of starting his own business. “In retirement, I always wanted to do something, but I wasn’t sure. [Opening the store] was just meant to happen for me.”

Originally from Brattleboro, Baker was a car salesman in that area for 35 years before retiring. To keep himself busy, he decided to move to Northwestern Vermont and drive for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft in the Burlington area. He found it cheaper to live in and commute to the Queen City from St. Albans, and moved in right down the street from his shop over a year ago.

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Saint Albans Art Supply has a variety of materials for artists both young and old.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic put an abrupt end to that venture, leaving Baker with time to fill. He then turned his attention to creating art — something he hadn’t done since dabbling in high school classes.

“I started doing oil painting and acrylic painting and said to myself, ‘This is great,’” Baker recounted. “It gives you a different view of the world as far as the way you look at it in a lighting perspective, and it just takes your mind away from everything else that’s going on.”

Baker would come to find out that there weren’t a lot of options in Franklin County to purchase art materials and saw an opportunity in that void.

“There’s really no place to buy art supplies around here,” said Baker. “There was a need for it in the area. I feel like other people are probably in the same situation as I am: looking for other outlets right now.”

After finding the storefront he identified as being suitable for his vision, it was only a matter of months before Baker was up and running.

Saint Albans Art Supply: When and where

The store is open Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. It’s conveniently located at 118 North Main St., directly across from Ace Hardware.

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What the shop offers

The new art store has a variety of materials including acrylics, oil paints and watercolors. There are canvases, color-by-number books, sketch pads, and Picasso posters. You can find Artograph lightpads for tracing and drawing, brush sets, and even brush cleaners.

Baker’s shop also carries items for kids, such as coloring books, and has a small table for children to sit and color or draw while their parents poke around or utilize the working space towards the back, when it becomes safe for them to do so.

“My motto is, ‘Art is for everyone,’” he said of the options he provides.

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Just one example of Vermont artist Shawna Beattie that's displayed at Saint Albans Art Supply.

Saint Albans Art Supply showcases some of the works by Shawna Beattie, a Vermont artist from the Jeffersonville area. While the store doesn’t sell the pieces directly, Baker will get customers in touch with Beattie for purchase. He also hopes to bring in other local artists to perform demonstrations — especially when the weather gets warmer and he can utilize the space outside of his setback building that’s adjacent to the sidewalk.

Baker plans to hold different events at the store, possibly including paint-and-sips, and he intends to offer online ordering at some point this year.

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