Hickory – Selling art is hard under the best of circumstances. Selling art in a small town is even harder, and now with challenges presented by the Coronavirus, harder still. Long before the Covid-19 pandemic hit U. S. shores, members of Trade Alley Art’s publicity team recognized the importance of expanding the member-owned gallery’s reach if they were going to thrive. That’s where the idea of an online store came up.

“More and more people are shopping online. Brick and mortar stores are having to re-think how they do business. Some of the most prominent, well-branded stores didn’t embrace this trend and pivot in time and have gone under,” says publicity chair, Teena Stewart. “If we want to do more than just survive,” we need to take steps to try to get our work in front of more people. We’re taking our cues from successful galleries who have proven that people do buy art online.” The project has been in preparatory stage for months but with the current Corona virus situation that has people staying home, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Gallery members hope the online store, which offers free shipping, will help them supplement sales. Recognizing that online retailers of art are selling reproductions with high price tags, this venture will provide an opportunity to purchase original art for less. Though some of what is listed online is also present in the physical gallery located at 25 2nd Street NW, online shoppers may also find items listed in the virtual shop which might not necessarily be in the gallery.

“It’s taken a lot of planning to get the shop up and running and that includes photographing the work which can be tricky, depending on the type of art. We couldn’t have done it without lots of help from our members and supporters who have assisted with putting all the pieces in place,” says Stewart. Currently only two-dimensional art is featured though the gallery carries much more than that. It’s possible that could expand to artisan gifts as well. About half the members, which number 21, are participating in the online portion, with more planning to join in. Merchandise will change periodically with new items being added, and shoppers looking for a specific type of art can request such through the communication links. The online shop can be viewed on the gallery’s website at https://www.tradealleyart.com. The official launch date is April 1, 2020.