How to Start a Art Supply Store

An art supply store will sell a number of materials for art projects, installations, and exhibits. Some owners choose a specialty (e.g., sculpting, painting, etc.), while others will sell general items to all.

Learn how to start your own Art Supply Store and whether it is the right fit for you.

Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.

Start a art supply store by following these 10 steps:

  1. Plan your Art Supply Store
  2. Form your Art Supply Store into a Legal Entity
  3. Register your Art Supply Store for Taxes
  4. Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
  5. Set up Accounting for your Art Supply Store
  6. Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Art Supply Store
  7. Get Art Supply Store Insurance
  8. Define your Art Supply Store Brand
  9. Create your Art Supply Store Website
  10. Set up your Business Phone System

We have put together this simple guide to starting your art supply store. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.

STEP 1: Plan your business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Art Supply Store Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.

When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:

  • Your state's business records
  • Federal and state trademark records
  • Social media platforms
  • Web domain availability.

It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.

Want some help naming your art supply store?

Business Name Generator

What are the costs involved in opening a art supply store?

An art supply store will need to spend money on the following:

  • Rent/mortgage
  • Cost of materials
  • Staff salaries
  • Commercial insurance
  • Registration/business permits
  • Office equipment
  • Marketing costs

What are the ongoing expenses for a art supply store?

An art supply store will need to account for the following expenses:

  • Rent/mortgage
  • Store maintenance/cleaning
  • Staff salaries
  • Marketing/website upkeep
  • Restocking supplies
  • Commercial insurance

Who is the target market?

The target market can be anyone from professional artists to the general public. Most people will have some need for art supplies at some point during the year, whether they’re starting a project of their own or helping someone they love. Art supply stores may primarily market to one specific group, while reserving a smaller space of the store for different types of artists.

How does a art supply store make money?

Art supply store owners will charge a mark-up on their products based on customer demand and item availability. They may also charge people a fee to attend parties, activities, or networking meetings.

How much can you charge customers?

Art supplies can range in price from a few pennies to hundreds of dollars (or more) for a single item. Look up standard rates both online and in your area before you determine your profit margin for each item.

How much profit can a art supply store make?

Profits will largely depend on the types of items you sell. Common items, such as paints, pencils, and sketchbooks, may only net a small profit margin. However, more expensive items may sell at a 30% or higher margin. Owners may need to source their products from a variety of wholesalers to maximize their profits.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Consider offering classes or events that would be of interest to your customers. They can be professional events where new artists can show their work and meet more influential people in the art world. Or they can be fun nights where attendees drink wine and paint their own masterpiece.

Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your art supply store is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

You can acquire your EIN through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?

There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Open a business bank account

Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.

Get a business credit card

Getting a business credit card helps you:

  • Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.

Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

STEP 7: Get business insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.

FInd out what types of insurance your Art Supply Store needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Art Supply Store.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.

Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.

If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.

How to promote & market a art supply store

Online promotion can be a good way for people to find you if you’re marketing to the everyday consumer. New advancements in marketing make it easy to tailor ads to customers, depending on what they search for. So, if a parent searches for school supplies, they'll see a different ad than someone searching for sculpture materials.

If you’re planning to market to professionals, you can also befriend gallery owners and informal community leaders in the area. Post flyers in public areas or hold Q&A sessions to understand how your store can better meet their needs.

How to keep customers coming back

Attracting customers starts with having the right products at the right prices. You can also attract customers by staffing your store with experts. It’s easy to find advice online about practically any art project, but a video is not the same as in-person guidance. Having the right staff can really encourage retention, as customers will come to rely on staff for everything from motivation to project insight.

STEP 9: Create your business website

After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.

While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:

  • All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
  • Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
  • Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.

Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.

Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.

STEP 10: Set up your business phone system

Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.

Recommended Business Phone Service: is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.

Is this Business Right For You?

This business is best for those who want to inspire artists of all kinds by offering quality products and professional guidance. Owners should have a strong appreciation for fine art, but they should also be open to helping newcomers find their feet.

Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

Entrepreneurship Quiz

What happens during a typical day at a art supply store?

The majority of the day will be spent dealing with customers, restocking supplies, and researching new inventory. If the store holds events, staff will need to devote time to negotiating contracts, setting up the store, and dismantling the materials. Owners will also need to budget time for marketing, financial planning, and staff scheduling.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful art supply store?

Owners will ideally have experience with both art and business. They should have enough of a presence in the art world to predict the types of supplies customers want, as well as a background in financial planning, marketing, and store display. Even if you choose to outsource these positions to different members of your staff, you’ll need to know enough to hire the right people and oversee their progress.

What is the growth potential for a art supply store?

The total global revenue for art supplies was close to $64 billion in 2017. However, brick-and-mortar art supply sales have suffered from the introduction of online operators and big-box stores. Owners may choose to offer online sales to grow their customer base, but they shouldn't give up on the promise of traditional retail. Physical locations give customers a chance to get answers to their questions, which can instantly increase their utility and popularity.

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Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Learn from other business owners

Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.

Resources to Help Women in Business

There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a art supply store?

Art supply stores can be a pillar for a community, especially if owners can forge a connection with residents. Consider the neighborhood in which you want to open. Are people serious artists who want a place to buy professional supplies? Are they amateurs with a limited budget but a passion for creation? Or are they affluent professionals who purchase supplies for their children and not themselves?
Once you know who you’re going to cater to, you can start finding ways to reach out to them. For example, maybe you gear the store towards professionals and hold monthly meetings for regular customers to come together and share ideas. Or maybe you confer with local schools to better understand the types of art projects they assign to students. If you can find a local university with a thriving art program, consider opening as close to the university as possible.

Before having a grand retail opening, consider offering stock online beforehand. Global art sales have climbed exponentially in recent years, suggesting you can find buyers in the farthest corners of the Earth. Experiment with what you offer and how you market it online. Gather feedback early on and adjust your stock (and goals) as you go.

How and when to build a team

Owners who plan to keep limited or by-appointment hours may be able to skip hiring a team until their customer base grows. However, if you’re planning to keep more conventional hours, you’ll need to hire a team immediately. If you're selling online, you may need to hire someone to keep track of orders, reviews, and questions. Make sure that those who work directly with customers are friendly and knowledgeable about a variety of art subjects.

Useful Links

Real World Examples

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