After years of selling prints online, in local stores like Atticus Coffee & Gifts and organizing pop-up shops around the Inland Northwest, Chris Bovey is bringing Vintage Print to the Garland district.
Making the leap from online sales to brick-and-mortar in a time when brick-and-mortar shops are closing right and left might seem too risky to most. But for Bovey? The time was right.
“It’s kinda like being a parent, you’re never really ready,” Bovey said.
However, he decided that if he could find a place in the Garland district, the universe must be telling him to jump.
He reached out to Katherine Fritchie, owner of the Garland Theater and other buildings on the block. Thrilled with the prospect of bringing Bovey to the neighborhood, Fritchie showed him a space two doors down from the theater. She had been holding the building vacant for years, looking for the right tenant.
“Then I came along,” Bovey said.
“One of the reasons I wanted to bring Chris up there is I really want to support the arts – that’s so important to me,” Fritchie said. “It’s a great little neighborhood and … I think Chris is gonna be really successful.
“For one thing, Chris has a really good following, and I think it’s important to get more street traffic up into the Garland area. He will really help with bringing more people and a vibrancy to the neighborhood that … the Garland area needs more of. I hope that we can support more arts-type businesses in future.”
Bovey shared his plans for the store, and Fritchie kept saying yes.
“She’s been the best landlord in the world,” he said. “With any new venture like this – it’s terrifying. But she’s been walking me through my fears. She wants more for this neighborhood, and she knows that (I’m) the right guy to do it.”
At 914 W Garland Ave., in the old Cooney Law Office building, Bovey’s store will take design inspiration from shops like Hatch Show Print in Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to signature Bovey prints in an ever-increasing variety of media, the store will offer visitors an opportunity to print designs of their choice.
Over the years, Bovey has been able to expand organically and incrementally, first with prints, then gradually adding apparel, accessories and an ever-increasing list of items.
Asked about Bovey, Terrain Executive Director Ginger Ewing said the biggest mistake most artists make while changing their sales approach is to take on too much, too soon.
“He’s been able to learn as he goes, and to be very smart about the choices he makes, and he’s created a really good foundation for himself,” Ewing said of Bovey. “Additionally … the irony of it all is, in that process, he has become an icon through celebrating icons in our city.”
Bovey’s work, Spokane Arts executive director Melissa Huggins said, has made him an icon beyond the local art world.
“People recognize his work … in the broader community,” she said. “He is … always exploring new things, and I think that’s so important not only for growing as an artist but also for maintaining a brick-and-mortar store … You always have to be refreshing and reinventing and … changing with the times … that suits him well.
“It completely makes sense for him to move to brick-and-mortar.”
For Bovey, the move is about more than sales.
“One of the big things that I want to do is bring families back to the Garland neighborhood,” he said, explaining his plans to offer another space for families to go together.
“And that’s exactly what Spokane needs more of in terms of cultural spaces,” Huggins said. “When (Spokane Arts has) a booth out at community festivals … we get questions from folks that are basically like, ‘I want to take my kids to do art activities. Where do we go and what do we do?’
“Spokane needs spaces … where people can go and experience and try something out, and we need them across the city, right? We can’t just have those spaces in downtown; they need to be in other neighborhoods as well.”
With renovations just beginning, Bovey hopes to open the shop between the end of summer and beginning of fall.
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