By Nicole Hennessy
The west end of Madison Avenue has a new art boutique – A Girl’s Best Trend – furthering its reputation as becoming an arts district.
Large windows allow the shop’s lights to flood the sidewalk, inviting in passersby. Everywhere, local handmade crafts hang on the walls – bird prints, Beatles prints, original oil paintings and other home accessories. On shelves are candles, jewelry, cutting boards, glassware, hats and bags.
Co-owner Jennifer Buchanan is responsible for the bags, which she’s been selling at arts and crafts shows for years.
She said she and a longtime friend, Colleen P. Bridegum, an artist, had talked about opening a shop for several years when, finally, their husbands encouraged them to actually take the leap.
Both women have full-time jobs and switch shifts at the shop.
Now a part of the newly formed Madison Arts District, Buchanan said she’s felt nothing but supported and welcomed since opening in October.
Included in the district’s list of member businesses are galleries like Breakneck and The Good Goat Gallery, art boutiques like The Cleveland Art Market and Crafty Goodness and other businesses, like Custom Picture Framing.
Nancy Cintron, owner of The Good Goat, helped form the district and the relationships between nearby businesses.
She said there are even more businesses coming in now – a photographer and a ceramics studio.
“We’re trying to create an area to promote individual artists, but as a group,” Cintron explained.
“We’re doing this because we love art and we really want people to appreciate art more. It just really makes a neighborhood beautiful.”
Taking the goals for the area one step further, Lakewood has approved art walks and a summer arts festival, similar to events held annually on Detroit Avenue and Clifton Boulevard.
And though A Girl’s Best Trend will participate in those events, it will also host monthly parties, featuring a different artist or two each time, to help draw in customers – “a little soiree type thing,” Buchanan laughed, standing at the counter.
Behind her a curtain separates the storefront from an equally large, if not larger, space where currently Bridegum paints.
She peeked behind it, considering expanding one day if business picks up or more and more artists become interested in selling their work there.
An interior designer by trade, Buchanan has already begun thinking about the possibility of running her own design firm out of the shop, but for now it’s just an idea.
Outside, the businesses surrounding her shop are all closed for the night, The Good Goat dark across the street.
Cintron, hoping to see even more of a positive response from the community as new artists continue to open shops in the area, said her main goal is that she wants “people to really appreciate art, not just glance at it, but really feel what the artists feel.”