It’s like businesses in Downtown Lawrenceville are playing musical chairs.
At the beginning of November, The LONA Gallery moved down the block on Crogan St. to a larger location. And on Thursday, we spotted Sparkle owner Meg Earhart cleaning the front window for her store’s future home—right next door to her current spot.
The Little Shop of Antiques most recently occupied Sparkle’s new location. While the square footage is smaller than her current space next to Niko’s Wine Corner, it will allow Earhart to do more.
“Over the last year, we started doing more and more shows. Travelling all over the country—New York, Arizona, Chicago… We’re doing pop culture shows, ComiCons and DragonCons…” explains Earhart. She says while business in that area has picked up, sales at the store has slowed down. So Earhart had to ask herself some tough questions. “Do we keep the store open? Do we just have a studio and travel and not have a store?”
With the store next door to her current location vacant, Earhart realized what the best option was. “We decided to go with a slightly smaller store with a big studio in the back. So we can continue the store here for the customers, but it also gives us a little better place to manufacture what we make,” said Earhart. “Essentially we’re going from a retail store that had a studio to a studio that has a retail store.”
Earhart expects to open the new store and studio in January, just weeks after Sparkle’s fifth anniversary. The business will also be formally known as "Sparkle! Designs" to place emphasis on the studio side.
There will be a different schedule with Earhart’s new location. “Up until now, we’ve been a seven day a week store. Going into 2013, we’ll be a four to five day a week store. When we’re out of town for a show, we’ll be closed.” Earhart said she and her staff will update the hours on the newly redesigned and rebranded Sparkle website.
Also on the website, customers can purchase some of the items Earhart sells in her brick and mortar store.
Earhart said another reason she opted to keep the store open is because to continue to support local talent. “We sell 20 to 30 local artists and we want to keep promoting them and local arts.”
Promoting local arts is also one of the reasons why The LONA Gallery decided to expand.
In November, LONA moved from a smaller location sandwiched between La Cazuela and Dominick’s to a 2,400 square foot space. The shop was previously one of the two locations of Sikes & Davis on the square.
With their new location, LONA co-owner Carolyn Wright says she and co-owner Sylvia Culberson can now do some of the things they originally envisioned when they opened their gallery in 2010. “Classes—which we will be rolling out at the first of the year, we’ll be having special events here, we will be renting out the space for private parties,” lists Wright. “We’ll have more networking and just community outreach activities in the new space.”
Wright emphasizes the new store has a lot more space for local artwork. Currently LONA features over 40 artists from Lawrenceville and nearby communities. “We’ve been able to bring in some new artists that we’ve been looking at for some time, but we simply didn’t have the space for,” said Wright. “We can also feature larger pieces of art which we didn’t have the space for before.”
“We’re excited to be a part of the awakening of the arts here in Downtown Lawrenceville,” adds Wright.