Monday, October 15, 2012

Shame on... Plaza Artist Materials

Once upon a time, you could walk into any number of retail outlets and purchase a 24" x 36" poster frame (for about $10.) Well, retail isn't what it used to be, and neither is demand for the aforementioned frames. Hey, I get it: Poster frames probably aren't cool anymore (were they ever?) and supply & demand still runs the show.

That said, I knew I could make a trek out to Rockville and visit A.C. Moore... where poster frames grow on trees (sort of.) You can find a good quality, wood frame on sale for less than $20... and metal frames for even less. Of course, Rockville isn't even on the radar for most DC residents (especially if you rely on public transportation to get you from point A to point B.)

For those who think you need a Passport to visit Rockville, there's always downtown. You know... where all the lights are bright, etc. Higher rents mean higher prices, but I had no idea what I'd discover at Plaza Artist Materials at 1990 K Street. I've recommended the DC art supply store to many people over the years (after all, how many art supply stores are there anymore?) but haven't been inside one for more than 10 years. I was in the neighborhood and decided to run inside and buy a frame. I expected to pay a few dollars more, but it was worth it not having to renew my Passport and all.

Good news and bad news. The good news is... they had several poster frames in stock. The bad news? They had price tags on their backs (I'm guessing the front would cause too many heart attacks.) Plaza Artist's self-labeled BASIC frame, made of lightweight plastic costs a mere $81 and change. Thin-bordered metal runs a cool $92+. What's a "starving artist" to do? Walk right out the door, that's what. I used to own and operate a stationery shop, so I understand margins and up-charges; but what Plaza Artists is doing, qualifies as highway robbery. Imagine strolling into Trader Joe's and plunking down a ten spot for a gallon of milk. You wouldn't like that, would you?

Rest assured, I'll never recommend Plaza Artist to anyone again. Try Utrecht on 1250 I Street or Sullivan's Toys and Art Supplies on 4200 Wisconsin Avenue... both in Northwest DC. For the record, I bit the bullet and bought a nice black, wooden frame for $18 at the aforementioned A.C. Moore. Shame on You... Plaza Artist Materials.