Artsmith celebrates 25 years in Estacada
The team at The Artsmith has framed everything from golf balls to an authentic Olympic torch.
"The torch hung on the outside of the frame so people could pick it up and handle it," recalled Allen Cameron, former owner of the store at 155 S.W. Third Ave. "We framed a hole-in-one golf ball. It was a fairly deep frame, and we put the tee in there, too."
This year, The Artsmith is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Estacada. After Allen retired last year, longtime employee Ellen Anderson and her husband Dave purchased the business in October. "We didn't want the community to lose the store," Ellen said.
A place to sell pictures
Since Allen started the business in 1994, it has moved several times around town. The store started on Highway 224 and spent many years on Broadway Street before moving to its current location on Third Avenue.
"I got into business selling religious pictures to bookstores," said Allen, who served as mayor of Estacada in the early 2000s and earned a lifetime achievement award for his service to the town at the Chamber of Commerce's community recognition event last year. "I sold my house, and so I was looking for a place to sell the pictures."
After working from the location that housed The Grind for a year, Allen co-located with a copy business that moved to Broadway Street. A year later, the copy shop owners left the business.
"I was left starting a business I knew nothing about," Allen said. "I told the building owner I would fully pay the rent, and if it doesn't seem like I know what I'm doing, I'll leave."
Allen, who was previously a manager at Key Bank, didn't expect to inherit the copy business, he invested in it fairly quickly. "A few months in, the color copier stopped working. I had to decide whether to invest $500 to keep it running or have a hunk of iron on the floor," Allen said (he opted to fix it).
During his tenure at the store, one of Allen's favorite elements of the business was the community. "I've enjoyed the time with the employees over the years. In a small store, you get acquainted with what's going on with them pretty well," he said. "And we have a lot of good customers."
Since retiring last year, Allen has enjoyed seeing the store under new leadership. "I don't know how people start a job at 25 and stay until they're 65 without going crazy," he said, noting that he appreciated the updates the Andersons have made to the store. "It needed someone to refresh it."
'Such great support'
Several years prior to their purchase, Dave wrote Ellen a note in church asking if she wanted to buy The Artsmith. Ellen has worked at the store since 2013, and last October, the couple purchased it.
"In the short time we've been here, it's been great getting to know the community," Dave said.
The Andersons have added several elements to the store, including fabric, guitar strings, reeds for woodwind instruments and a series of art classes. "They're super fun," Ellen said, discussing the classes. "We're always looking for more ideas and more teachers . . . I like to walk back there and look at people's stuff. There's so much talent in the community."
Everyone involved with The Artsmith is happy the store will continue to play a role in the Estacada community. "We've had such great support. Even now, people come in and say, 'I'm so glad you're still here,'" Ellen
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