Springfield Missouri’s National Art Shop closing as owners retire

National Art Shop, a go-to place for local artists for decades, is set to close its doors for the last time Wednesday.

Jean and Jerry Sanders, who opened the store in 1970, are retiring and have been unable to find anyone to buy them out and continue selling art supplies.

The decision ends 51 years in business that began with a simple problem: Jerry Sanders’ mother and aunt — local artists Louise Prater and Lucille Hammond — couldn’t find art supplies for sale in the Queen City.

There were a few paint stores they could buy from, but selection was limited, and that got Jerry Sanders thinking.

“I had always wanted my own business, and I made a few calls to the art museum and some art professors about the lack of an art supply store,” he told the News-Leader in 1995. “I got a positive response.”

Soon enough, he had a $3,000 loan, enough to set up shop around the corner from the art museum in the building National Ave. Hair Salon occupies now.

His mother ran the place to start while he kept his job on the Frisco Railway, and the shop quickly attracted a solid customer base from local colleges.

Shoppers wait in line to checkout as they pack National Art Shop on Thursday, April 8, 2021 during a closing sale. The owners are retiring after more than 50 years in business.

“The art professors told students what they wanted them to use and we would get all their supplies into kits for them,” Jean Sanders said in an interview this week. “I wouldn’t say we made a whole lot of money on that, but it was enough.”

Once things got going, Hammond, Jerry Sanders’ aunt, came in to help his mother. The pair also had a little fun being identical twins.

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