No pie for you: Two more downtown businesses close
Published 2:42 am Friday, July 28, 2017
Two more downtown Danville businesses have announced plans to close — Art of Danville on Aug. 21 and Pies for You and Cookies Too at the end of August.
Since the first of July, these two will mark five businesses closing in the downtown district, including, Nellie Burton’s Sports Bar and Steakhouse, Cue on Main and Main Street Furniture Market.
The closures have been coincidental, said Wilma Brown, owner of Pies for You and Cookies Too.
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“It has been circumstantial, just coincidental, that so many closed at one time. We had nothing to do with each other,” she said. “It’s not a movement … it’s just a coincidence.”
For Brown, closing comes because of an “unusual” reason — it’s been too successful.
“I’ve been in business over three years. It’s been highly successful … I wanted to keep it small so I could handle it,” she said. “After three years, word of mouth has taken over. That’s a good thing, a really good thing.
“I’m grateful to all of my wonderful customers because they’ve been terrific and supported the shop. It has gotten to the point where I can no longer do it myself.”
That means selling out of items every day, often working 12-hour days. Brown bakes daily, making every crust from scratch — that’s the secret to the pies’ successes, she interjected — and said she simply can’t do more.
She even spent about six months trying to find a partner — not an employee — to help join her in the business.
“I’m old. I’m not too old to have the business, but I’m too old to start developing a business. If I were younger, I would, but it takes … once you hire someone it might take a year to recoup the money for hiring,” she said.
Unfortunately, that person never appeared.
“A bakery, especially, is a big commitment. It’s a lot of time. People, sometimes the timing has been wrong for them,” Brown said. “Timing is everything. I can’t stay forever waiting for the right person to come by,” she said.
Brown’s last day in the kitchen will be Aug. 12. She plans to take that weekend to take some things home and will open up on Monday, Aug. 15, in order to sell off everything in the store.
“I’ve baked myself out of existence, but it’s been a wonderful experience,” she said. “My baking days are over.”
Brown does plan to put out a cookbook with all of her pie and cookie recipes which will be available to purchase before the business fully closes at the end of August. Interested customers can watch for a sign in the window, she said.
She worries about the downtown businesses, and said she hopes a new business can take her place and the places of the other vacant spaces.
Brown may appeal to the stomachs, but Allan Crain’s business has appealed to the hearts and souls of art lovers.
But, as of Aug. 21, he will close Art of Danville, which has served as a gallery, classroom and art studio since it opened on Nov. 15, 2015. Crain also has a 12-color printer, which is capable of printing large pieces of art.
Crain said he doesn’t see a market to keep the gallery open.
“I wanted to promote art and artists. The market isn’t there. I’ve promoted art. I’ve promoted artists, but it’s not economically viable,” he said.
Crain said he believed he could impact the community to build an art market.
“In the past, I built a real estate market where none existed,” he said. But, about the art market, he believes that he was wrong.
“I’ve had many successes in life and I’ve had failures. You learn from each of them,” he said. “It’s a little bit like you’re in a competitive sport and you lose, but you did your best. You don’t feel bad … There’s always more I could have done.”
There are things successful galleries have going that Danville doesn’t, which Crain felt may have impacted Art of Danville’s future.
“We don’t have those … We are what we are,” he said. “I love it here. I enjoy the people. I’ve enjoyed teaching.”
Crain, who has been painting for 60 years and is a member of the Kentucky Guild of Craftsman and Artists, plans to continue teaching, painting and printing at his home in the Old Bridge neighborhood. He can be contacted via www.artofdanville.com, at (859) 516-1434 or by emailing allanCrain1@gmail.com.
“I appreciate the students I’ve had. I appreciate the people that have supported us by buying art,” he said. “You can’t expect people to buy something they don’t need. I don’t think it’s a question of want, I think it’s a question of need … It’s just a business where — it’s not top of the mind awareness, ‘Let’s go buy art.’”
When he started Art of Danville, Crain said he believed art needed to be seen to be sold. And he still thinks that, but people have to have money and be willing to make the purchases.
“I’m not upset with anyone. It’s just the way it is, not the way you want it,” he said.
Things have definitely not been all bad.
“I’ve met people I would have never met otherwise. I’ve made good acquaintances,” Crain said. “I am not sad. I’m not doing cartwheels.” Smiling, he added, “Not that I could.”
“When I bought this place, I said I don’t want to be where everybody’s favorite restaurant closes and they say, ‘I just love that restaurant and I can’t believe it closed.’ You ask, ‘When is the last time you were there?’ And they say, ‘Oh, three years ago,’” Crain said.
To support artists, he said, requires actual, tangible support.
“Supporting the arts is buying art. Or going to the theatre,” he said.
Most of Crain’s artists are Kentucky-based: three even took first, second and third place at the Lexington Paint Out recently. He’s had over 30 in the gallery during the two years.
From now until the space closes on Aug. 21, the Art of Danville will be holding a 30 percent off sale on some of the art.
“They were already reasonable prices for the quality of the art,” he said. He’s already sold 10 pieces in about a week.
Neither business owner had heard about any immediate plans for the two spaces after they close.
“We have had some conversations with a potential new business and things are looking well to bring them downtown but at this time we are not ready to make any announcements,” said Nick Wade, director of the Heart of Danville. “Even though the businesses are closing, it is important that Wilma and Allan feel the love and support from the community that their businesses deserve. We will certainly miss their businesses downtown, and I hope that people will continue to support them until they shut their doors.”
SO YOU KNOW
• Art of Danville at 413 West Main Street in Danville will close Aug. 21. Allan Crain will continue teaching, painting and printing at his home in the Old Bridge neighborhood. He can be contacted via www.artofdanville.com, (859) 516-1434, or allanCrain1@gmail.com.
• Pies for You and Cookies Too at 115 North Third Street in Danville will officially close at the end of August, however, owner Wilma Brown will stop baking on Aug. 12. She plans to use the remaining weeks to sell the furniture, kitchen equipment and other items in her shop.