With a creative eye and a passion for supporting art, Andrea Petersburg opened The Local Bevy LLC after seeing how COVID negatively affected local artists and their ability to sell and promote their works.
Her original idea was for a store that sold only local art, but Petersburg says her vision has evolved into selling pieces from artists in surrounding areas and states.
“There’s artists in other towns doing different things,” she says. “I like to bring some of that here too.”
Petersburg says roughly 95% of the products at The Local Bevy are made in Springfield, but all her inventory is handmade.
“Maybe I’m supporting an artist in Tulsa, St. Louis or Kansas City, but I try to stay somewhat local,” Petersburg says.
Petersburg, who is also an artist, started off making macrame and selling her work at art shows. To open her business, she says she immediately started calling friends in the art world to help find and make products to be sold.
“I wanted to hit all the major mediums,” says Petersburg. “I wanted, pottery, prints, photography, just get a wide variety.”
Today, 30 Springfield artists sell their work out of her shop in the Rountree neighborhood. Her products include pottery, jewelry and stationery, just to name a few. Products are arranged all over the store in fun displays and as eye-catching decor.
“Some of these items are one of a-kind, unique; these artists aren’t going to pump out 10, much less two. The pace is different than traditional retail,” she says.
She says she never had much of a marketing budget. Starting out, she relied heavily on word-of-mouth and social media. As the only employee, Petersburg says she wears lots of hats: “I’m the social media manager, photographer, customer service, cheerleader and hype girl.”
Having no prior history in retail, she says she is learning from others and watching how similar businesses operate.
Declining to disclose revenue, Petersburg says her mission for the business is to support local artists and give them a platform to sell.
Petersburg says her busy season is around the holidays, primarily Christmas. She says many customers shop at the store for gifts.
“I have lots of regulars and it’s truly been a blessing,” she says. “People really do just show up, and it’s so heartwarming for me that people come back all the time.”
Artists can sell their goods at The Local Bevy in three ways, Petersburg says. The first way is renting space in the store for a set monthly price, along with 15% of sales going back to the store. The second way is a larger commission of 30% to the store in lieu of rent, and items are placed around the store and not in a dedicated place. The third way, catered to artists not local to Springfield, is for Petersburg to buy art pieces at a wholesale price.
With the store set up like a gallery, she says she wants to be able to support artists at any part of their career, whether they are just starting out and want to sell a few items without paying a rental fee or an established artist with many products to fill a rented space.
Local artist Jordan Ryan has sold retail goods under Pickwick Papery & Gifts at The Local Bevy for a little over a year.
Focusing on paper goods, such as greeting cards, puzzles and planners, Ryan says The Local Bevy has been a great way for her to gauge the market for what’s popular without starting her own brick and mortar.
“Andrea has made such a great space for local makers, and I love having a presence there,” says Ryan.
A wall under the checkout counter highlights clay and resin earrings ranging $5-$15 apiece, and Petersburg says they’re popular sellers. Another area near that counter features yarn wall hangings, coasters and keychains made by Gathering Knots, owned by Denise Shaw. Shaw says she met Petersburg through Instagram and loved how she showcased local artists’ handmade products.
“I knew when I was ready to sell my macrame pieces, The Local Bevy was the first place I would contact,” Shaw says.
Shaw is a newer consigner and started selling with The Local Bevy in October. Most of her pieces are made to hang in homes or cars and range $30-$40 for wall hangings and $6 for keychains.
“My vision has always been that I wanted to offer a little bit of everything, and I think it’s fun,” says Petersburg. “I sell what I want to buy.”
Springfield Business Journal’s 2023 Trusted Advisers event honors 20 businesspeople.