We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Stock and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Amy, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, becoming an entrepreneur always seemed like it was a part of my destiny. But figuring out what that looked like took time. My gut had always told me to be patient when it came to figuring out what that business venture would eventually look like. After working in sales and marketing for 15 years and always quickly tiring of the current job I was in, a friend challenged me with the question, “If you could do anything, what would it be?” I took a few months to think about what I loved and excelled at in past jobs. My favorite job had been managing an art gallery, but I knew that if I worked in that industry again, I wanted to be the one that made the decisions. I then took about six months to familiarize myself again with the industry, reading lots of books on the economy of the art market and also entrenching myself in the current art scene where I lived, Long Beach. In this process, I learned that Long Beach had a large population of artists, yet there were very few art galleries of the caliber that I craved. So it was decided, focus on starting an art gallery in Long Beach.

What should our readers know about your business?
My initial business plan to start an art gallery was very traditional, find funding for a retail space and find artists to show in that space. When my initial funding fell through, I didn’t want to have to wait any longer to get things going. So I decided to look outside of the box. I’d started reading about galleries popping up in unconventional places and thought why don’t I do this. I found a few artists that were interested in trying this model and I started popping up outside of a frame shop during the LB Art Walk. Next, I started talking to local businesses that liked to have art by local artists on their walls, and asked if they would let me manage the art on their walls. This quickly provided me with walls all around the city where I was placing art without having to worry about the overhead of my own retail space. This model proved to be quite successful, and then the pandemic hit. Quickly, all of the small businesses I worked with were closed with no idea when they would be back to operating in a normal manner. As I’d pivoted before, I quickly learned I needed to pivot again. I’d always had a website, but it was mostly just for looks, a place where someone could go to see all of the artwork in my collection without visiting each business. In the summer of 2020 I decided to start pushing the artist prints I had in inventory on my website. I’d always had prints, but most of the art I’d sold pre-pandemic was original art. All of a sudden, prints were flying of the shelves. Since then, I’ve migrated to a more robust website where all of our art can be purchased online. I’m now working on ways to make visiting the website more interactive and provide some products that I wasn’t easily able to sell in my past model. 2020 has been a challenging year for the art market and as traditional art galleries seem to be something of the past, I’m excited about moving more robustly forward in the online world where I have the opportunity to reach a larger audience.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Imagining we weren’t in a pandemic, here’s what would be on the itinerary. I live in downtown Long Beach, so these are all based from that location. 1. Enjoying an evening of drinks and apps at District Wine. This is my favorite local spot where sitting outside guarantees running into friends, neighbors and maybe meeting someone new. 2. Taking a bike ride through the neighborhoods on 1st Street then making our way to Starling Diner for brunch. Ordering something with crab is a must. Hoping back on our bikes and making our way to the Boathouse on Alamitos Bay. Enjoying their outdoor seating with views of the water and the live music they have on the weekends. They have a great assortment of drinks and apps to slowly peruse. When the afternoon is over, hop on the Aqualink (LB Transit’s water taxi. They stop right outside of the Boathouse) with our bikes to go back downtown. 3. Explore the public art and murals filling the walls of downtown Long Beach by using the Tour LBC (my other business) app that provides free self guided tours of the art, history and culture of Long Beach. 4. Go shopping at all of the great independent retail shops in the East Village, especially the ones located on 1st Street between Linden and Elm. Then grab some food at Thai District’s new parklet. 5. Explore all the stores on Retro Row and grab some food at one of the local restaurants. 6. Head over to the Long Beach Museum of Art and check out their current exhibit. Maybe grab a drink and some food at Claire’s, the museum’s restaurant. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My business definitely would not be around if it wasn’t for the tremendous support for the arts that this city shares. Not only does the city of Long Beach continue to support the arts, but so do the business owners with their love of collaborating with the arts. And we can’t forget all of the residents that fill their walls with all of the wonderful local artist’s artwork.

Website: www.kennedygracegallery.com

Instagram: @kennedy_grace_gallery

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kennedygracegallery

Image Credits
All photos taken or provided by Amy Stock

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