For many years, Jerry Sanders overheard his mother and twin complaining that there were no art supply stores in Springfield.
The two passionate and talented artists had to order their supplies from a house paint store.
“And (the stores) would order when they wanted to,” said Jerry Sanders, 78. “So I thought about that one day. I thought maybe I should put one on.”
The year was 1970.
Sanders, who was employed by the railroad at the time, had an eye on the small building next to the Springfield Art Museum. (Back then, the building was a grocery store. Today it’s the National Avenue hair salon.)
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“I walked in and – what do you know – but my cousin worked in this store,” Jerry Sanders said. “We talked and he said, ‘Oh, we’re going to close this store.'”
Jean Sanders was sitting nearby and urged her husband to “speed up the story”.
He loves to tell stories, explains Jean Sanders.
“I was like, ‘Ah, there’s a store here that I maybe can rent. So to make it short,” he said, as Jean rolled his eyes, “they closed the store a few weeks later. “
Jerry Sanders said he ended up renting this building for $ 110 per month for the next five years and named his store the National Art Shop.
In 1986, they moved the store to its current location at 509 S. National Ave. (More on this shortly. Jerry Sanders enjoyed sharing the story of how he acquired this building.)
The Sanders will be celebrating the boutique’s 50th anniversary from noon to 5 p.m. Friday with an open house, cake and punch. They look forward to meeting new and long-standing clients.
When asked if he plans to retire soon, Jerry Sanders laughed.
“I didn’t have time to make plans,” he said.
The first days
The artists who inspired Jerry Sanders to open the boutique – his mother, Louise White Prater, and his twin, Lucille White Hammond – were born in 1920 in Springfield and died in 2009 and 2014, respectively.
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They spent their lives raising their children and painting.
The sisters’ works of art continue to be displayed and for sale at the National Art Shop. Jerry Sanders said he has hundreds of other paints in stock.
The twins tried out just about every medium available, but watercolor was their favorite. A number of their works have been printed, including five autumn scenes of Ozarks that the late John Q. Hammons had reproduced for hanging in every room at Chateau on the Lake near Branson, according to a News article. Leader of 2016.
When Jerry Sanders opened the store in 1970, the two women worked there for several years.
Jerry Sanders recalled that business was rather slow at first, but picked up as word spread among local artists. Then the colleges found the store, he said, and their little store at 1375 S. National Ave. was quickly packed.
Jerry Sanders was on the hunt for a building again and set his sights on the then grocery store, Brigance Food Lane, located at 509 S. National Ave.
“I thought this was the perfect building for the art store,” he recalls. “Every day, when I drove by, I thought about it. Finally, one day I saw a sign in the window that said something like “25% off. And I thought I’d better check that out. They might close. “
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It didn’t take long for the sign to change 40 percent, he said. It was then that he contacted the owner of the building, Lester Brigance, and told him about his idea for a larger art store.
Brigance had another offer on the building and had handed over the keys to this potential buyer. Brigance asked to see the National Art Shop.
“I showed him the basement and the first floor and the top floor. It was just packed,” Jerry Sanders said. “He said, ‘You need a bigger building.’ I said, ‘Yes, I do.’ “
“He said, ‘Well, I want to meet your wife,’” Jerry Sanders said, looking at Jean. “Do you remember that?”
Jean Sanders said yes and urged her husband to conclude the story.
“His stories go on and on,” she said, shaking her head.
“So they invited him and his wife to dinner,” continued Jerry Sanders. “I introduced Jean and of course she has this big accent. And he’s from the South.
“He found out that I was married to a girl from the South, so he said, ‘I’m going to sell you my property.'”
And while Jerry Sanders credits his wife’s southern accent and charm to helping him land the building, Jean Sanders said Brigance has something else on his mind as well.
“He wanted this to remain a family-type business,” she said. “That’s what he had. He wanted it to stay that way.”
About the National Art Shop
National Art Shop offers personalized frames. All the work is done in-house and no appointment is necessary (but you can call to schedule an appointment at a specific time that suits your schedule).
The boutique offers over 5,000 frame styles, including ornate and classic, from traditional to contemporary, in your choice of wood, metal, lacquer, acrylic or leather. It also offers a wide selection of ready-made photo frames.
The store sells arts and crafts supplies including books, canvases, paints, mediums, finishes, paper, paintbrushes, pens, markers, tapes, and adhesives.
Stores are open 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Saturday, and closed on Sunday.
Visit nationalartshop.com or call 417-866-3743.