The downtown art gallery, which opened in February but quickly had to close due to the pandemic, is now back open.
Like many small business owners in the United States, the global COVID-19 pandemic threatened a dream for Lynn Meadows just after it started to materialize.
After many months of renovating its building through 2019, Meadows finally got to open Spirit Art Gallery’s doors to the public in mid-February. The shop, located at 303 S. Collins St., started getting attention around town and Meadows was spending money to advertise her new business. Right when things were going well, the virus forced the nation to hunker down.
Just like that, the spirit was all but drained from the room.
“It was a very large financial blow to me because I put all the money into the renovations,” Meadows said. “That building was blocked off into little offices, so I put a great deal of money into the renovation to open it up and get it to work as a gallery. That was my biggest concern. I spent so much of my cash flow and I wasn’t recouping any of it.”
Though Meadows, her husband and store manager Richard Sarmento were able to get by during the shutdown, the high degree of uncertainty that came with it brought along more stress than any new business owner needs, from the loss of sales to not knowing when the gallery would be able to reopen.
“Business was gearing up, more people were coming in, plans were good and then the coronavirus hit,” Sarmento said. “We were open for six weeks and we were down for eight.”
Meadows kept working on her art. To be fair, Meadows is almost always working on her art regardless of what state the world is in. She and the Spirit staff were excited and prepared when they finally got to reopen several weeks ago.
Once again, the gallery faced the challenge of getting the word out about its return. Being closed for longer than it was open presented a new hurdle for Spirit to clear, but Meadows and Sarmento said word of mouth has started to work and people are starting to come back in.
“We were just starting to have people notice we were there and I already used what I wanted to use on advertising for it opening, and then we had to close,” Meadows said. “I think once people come in and they see how much different it is than most other shops, it’s gonna sell itself. It’s mostly new people coming in now that say ‘I didn’t even know this was here.’”
Spirit Art Gallery consists entirely of Meadows’ own creations and was born out of necessity: she made so much art at her home studio that she ran out of space to store everything. Meadows’ work covers dozens of different themes and mediums, so you can get everything from chalk and acrylic-based paintings big and small to custom-painted furniture, hand-made statuettes, jewelry and much more. The custom furniture, which Meadows said is the store’s biggest seller, consists of pre-owned pieces that get restored and fixed, then painted over before going up for sale.
The art gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. For commissions, visit the store and speak to Sarmento.