Former Varney’s employee Ruth Ridder said she wants to help the community.
To do so, she opened an art supply store, Little Apple Art Supply, at 706 N. 11th St.
When Varney’s closed its doors in June, it left a gap in where students and other artists could buy supplies. The internet and local branches of chain stores became the only options.
That is, until Ridder decided to open a store in Aggieville.
“I needed to find somewhere within walking distance to campus because some of my customers don’t have cars,” Ridder said. “Or they only come if they have a ride. I also needed to be somewhere with parking.”
She said she began the process of applying for loans and setting up distributors earlier this year, but the ball really got rolling on July 13, the day of the auction of Varney’s remaining supplies and furniture. At the auction, Ridder purchased art supplies necessary for her business.
“We really got going the day of the Varney’s auction,” Ridder said. “It’s been very short, a bit of a rush.”
Her experience in college-based retail, she said she believes, makes her a strong contender against the bigger stores for helping area artists.
“Michael’s and Hobby Lobby have the supplies, but it’s not what the students need,” Ridder said. “The supplies can be quite specific for the physical nature of a project, then they won’t need it again until next year. Big corporations are not set up to deal with that.”
In addition to knowing what the students’ project needs are, Ridder will be offering artists a place to see the product in person and gain inspiration.
“I want students to be able to gain a sense of inspiration; talk to people, get that backward and forward,” Ridder said.
Although the business is not in the exact same location as its predecessor, she will supply the same kits for art and architecture classes, in addition to general art supplies.
“I’m looking to see everybody back and see familiar faces,” Ridder said. “We’ll be Varney’s, but in a different place.”
The store opened Monday and is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.