The lobby slowly begins to fill. Glen Edith coffee is present, and there is a large spread of emoji donuts sent over from BXCR. It all feels very… Rochester.
Zu Füß offers an array of bath, burnable, wax, oil, and roll-on products in addition to Tarot-based life coaching and Tarot readings. “If you choose to give your dollars to Zu Füß, know that your dollars will be supporting many small, ethical businesses."
As someone who has lived in Rochester my entire life, I’m constantly discovering new places that make Rochester the kick-ass city that it is. I consider myself lucky to live in Rochester, and although I could choose to live elsewhere, I keep Rochester as my home. This area is close to my heart, and it’s where I live and work as a bookbinder, designer, and maker.
Rochester and its surrounding suburbs are filled with hard-working business people who dedicate their lives to running small niche businesses. You can sense a level of dedication to their work when you speak with these business owners. As a business owner myself, I see the value in putting money back into our local economy. As a customer, I can choose to shop locally, contributing to these businesses success. Very few things give me as much satisfaction as supporting these types of shops.
As an artist, living and working in Rochester, I’ve become quite familiar with many small businesses that can provide you not only with inspiration but also the supplies, materials, knowledge and advice to further develop your artistic skills. I’ve gathered a list that is ready for you to discover yourself, how creative and interesting these small business can be, how passionate their owners are, and how shopping local for your art supplies makes the end result that much closer to your heart.
Rochester Art Supply
This is an art supply mecca! Located downtown, this art palace has everything. They’ve been in business for over 60 years, and everyone really knows their stuff here. They have an extensive paint department and an absolutely beautiful paper room. This is one of my favorite shops in all of Rochester – put this one at the top of your list!
Dan’s Crafts and Things
Right off of 590 on Empire Blvd., Dan’s Crafts and Things has been a Rochester staple amongst hobbyists and crafters for decades. The store is gigantic and they have an enormous amount of supplies of all kinds. Most famously, they carry parts and materials for all sorts of RC models (trains, airplanes, etc) and even pieces for building your own drone. Dollhouse miniatures, puzzles and toys, and other various art supplies can also be found at Dan’s Crafts and Things.
The Art Store
This unassuming shop is located in South Town Plaza in Henrietta. Full of fine art materials, the staff here sets it apart from the big box art stores. Always willing to help out or to give suggestions, everyone here is so friendly and knowledgeable. You will leave with the confidence and supplies to tackle that tricky technique you’ve been itching to try. Plus maybe a sheet or two of the beautiful handmade paper they carry.
The Art Stop
If you find yourself up north of Rochester, stop into The Art Stop. Located near four corners in Webster, this tiny little gem of a shop is full of character. Not only offering art supplies, the Art Stop offers framing services, painting workshops, birthday parties, and fine art classes. Have artsy kids? They even offer a “Big Fat Messy Art Camp”.
Craft Bits and Pieces
In the Village of Fairport, this small resale shop features a selection of eclectic hodge-podge materials. A great place to literally find random bits and pieces, this local store accepts donated craft supplies and then sells them for pretty low prices. The proceeds from the store go back to the Fairport community to help senior citizens. A bit like shopping at a garage sale, this cute store is lovingly run by volunteers who dedicate their time to helping the local community. A great place to buy a ziploc bag of buttons for $3, this place is the Goodwill of craft supplies.
Little Button Craft and Press
In the heart of the South Wedge, Little Button on South Ave. pulls at my heartstrings every time I step through their doors. Inside this adorable little shop they carry all types of handmade goods made by local artists. From home goods to clothing to stationary to jewelry, Little Button is a great way to shop handmade and support local artisans. As far as materials for making your own creations, they have a large wall full of beautiful yarns ready to be knit or crocheted into soft and huggable items, and even wooden needles to help get the job done.
The Yarn Source
This cute shop resembles a little red barn, found in Schoen Place along the Erie Canal. Inside you will find supplies for needle-felting, crochet, spinning, knitting and weaving. They also offer help with patterns to get your projects started. Carrying domestic and imported yarns, the stores slogan is “We leave no knitters behind!”
The Village Yarn & Fiber Shop
Tucked away inside Piano Works Mall in East Rochester lies the Village Yarn and Fiber shop. If you are a yarn enthusiast chances are you’ve already heard of this long-time local supplier. A warm and welcoming environment, this colorful shop is stocked floor to ceiling with all types of yarns. If you’re feeling social or want to learn some tips from other knitters they offer weekly drop-in knitting nights.
Also found at Piano Works Mall, this store is like walking into a candy store - You will want to grab everything! Browsing beads is one the most inspiring experiences a jewelry artist can have. This shop stocks rows and rows of beads, from natural and semi-precious stones to artisan glass beads; Let’s Bead is a bead lover’s paradise.
Like a museum or art gallery, Bead Breakout has a huge array of beads, on display like their own works of art. Located inside a house-like building on Monroe Ave, the cozy interior of Bead Breakout makes it feel friendly and welcoming. Complete with a fireplace and sitting area, this is a place you can spend a while in, opening each drawer to discover trays upon trays of beads.
Beads ‘N Things
Another super adorable shop inside Schoen Place, Beads ‘N Things packs a punch for it’s size and is well worth a visit. The store owners are helpful and kind and know exactly what they have in stock. They have a beautiful selection of higher end beads and stones in their display cases, as well as less expensive options for you to peruse. They also sell kits that are a grab bag of all the supplies, plus instructions, for you to make your own beading project, perfect for a rainy Rochester afternoon.
Fabrics and Findings
Well known in the community, Fabrics and Findings has been a Rochester staple for many years and provides fabrics of all types. Located near Village Gate, this place is so fun to be in and explore. If you’ve been thinking about making drapes, or reupholstering that chair you inherited, this is the place. Fabrics and Findings has been in Rochester since 1978, so the people who are there, know a thing or two and can point you in the right direction. Leave time for this place and don’t rush around, because there is a lot to see here.
Patricia Fabric House
Piano Works Mall provides crafters with yet another specialty store, this time with fabrics and quilting supplies. They even carry sewing machines complete with the classes needed on how to use them. Staffed by “fabriholics” the people here can answer just about any question, and they even have a resident scissor sharpener. My favorite is their array of bridal fabrics, specifically their lace offerings, perfect for any bridal related project. Their coupons and rotating monthly deals are an added bonus.
This small shop located right over the bridge in the Village of Fairport carries designer fabrics and patterns for sewers of all skill levels. Also specializing in embroidery and quilting, this local store is a great stop, especially if you are thinking about taking the plunge and getting your own machine. Their kind and knowledgeable staff can not only help you find that unique fabric you’ve been seeking but also help educate you on how to use that pattern you picked up too.
Ivy Thimble Quilt Shop
Located in Victor, this shop has more fabrics than you could imagine. Pleasing to the eye and color-coded, this store sells all sorts of quilting fabrics in a huge array of patterns and styles. They also have a very large longarm machine in their shop, for you to finish up your quilting projects.
Everything you need for your next pottery project can be found at Rochester Ceramics. Another niche local establishment that has been in business for decades, they sell a variety of ceramic goods. From raw materials to glazes, clay to bisque ware, even kilns and potting wheels, this place is the stop for anything pottery related.
Paper of all types can be found at Mr. Paper. From copy papers to drawing papers, they carry a lot of variety of different stocks. They also carry some printmaking materials and digital printing supplies. This place is pretty unassuming, but once you’re inside, this place has some great papers; and don’t be afraid to ask for help navigating around.
Pretty unique to any city, Quilled Creations is a shop dedicated to all things paper quilling. With their inventory online, this place carries anything and everything ready for you to start mastering the art of curling paper. Fostering a sense of community, they also have a lot of learning resources for you to develop your skills further.
Whatever shop you decide to patron, and whatever craft materials you take home with you, I hope that your next art project contains some items that came from a Rochester shop. Shopping small feels good and brings value to many people’s businesses. Local shopping benefits store owners and their businesses from the ground up. Rochester is unique in many ways, and our large array of niche art supply stores is a perfect example of one of many facets to our many local businesses.
[All Photos taken by Sandy Ly]