It’s been a long handful of months being closed, but the Fine Line Art Gallery is ready to welcome customers and art aficionados back through its doors.
Like many local businesses, the gallery closed down in mid-March following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions put in place by various levels of government to slow the spread of the virus. Now, after roughly three months of being closed, Fine Line’s Jean Richards said it’s time to re-open their doors.
In fact, they’ve already done it.
“We opened last week for three days and this week for four days, but we’re going to go Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 500 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.,” she explained to the Times last Friday.
With the gallery opened to the public again, Richards stressed that things will be different in order to keep everyone safe, customers and artists alike, but she said that some of the customers she’s already seen are very understanding of the new rules.
“We’re going to keep it to three customers at a time and six feet distance and sanitizing hands and encouraging masks if they want,” Richards said.
“This morning a very good customer came to the door and looked at the sign and put her mask on, so people are really good. Hopefully we can get to doing artist of the month and open house and all that, but right now... well, you know what it’s like.”
That’s a challenge the gallery still has to figure out, Richards explained. Usually the artist of the month, open houses and silent auctions bring in a good deal more customers at any one time, but with restrictions in place the gallery isn’t quite sure how these events will look going forward.
“Whether we can do it again, I don’t know,” she said.
“We get three or four customers in at a time at the most, two usually, but when we’d have an open house or the silent auction, that’s when we’d get more than three people at a time. So whether we’d be able to do the silent auction, I don’t know.”
Richards added that there’s added desire to get back to the artist of the month, as she had a schedule lined up before events out of their control pushed things around.
“Hopefully everything will go back to normal so we can do our artist of the month,” she explained.
“Emily was going to do September. I was going to do October last year, then we had to move, then I was going to do March, and then the world stopped, so hopefully this fall we can go back to that. I was laughing and saying we should put a sign up: ‘COVID-19 pricing.’”
The Gallery is lucky, Richards explained, because they had enough funds in reserve to be able to pay their rent during the time they were closed due to the pandemic, and now that they’re open they can begin to refill that reserve.
Even as the gallery works to figure out how to hold its regular events, Richards said she’s encouraged by the response she’s seen from customers in the short time they’ve been re-opened.
“We were closed for three months,” she said.
“But this week we’ve had a few customers. Not just lookers, they more or less knew what they wanted, so that was a good sign... On Tuesday I came in and two people came in and bought four of my cards, and then on Wednesday we had sales over $100. And today’s around $100 again. But you can see there’s more traffic, there’s more cars.”
There are still a few months to go before the Fine Line Art Gallery has to worry about celebrating its first anniversary in their newest location –right next door to where they originally opened in 1995– but Richards encouraged everyone to stop in and catch up with their favourite local artists.
“[The public] are welcome back because we’re open and it will be great to see them,” she said.