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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Bittersweet Shopping at Daniel Smith

8/26/21 Daniel Smith store and First Avenue South ramp

When Daniel Smith’s Seattle store announced that it was finally reopening after its 18-month pandemic closure, we sketchers were overjoyed to have our favorite art supply store again. Our joy was short-lived, however, when that announcement was followed by another that the reopening was only temporary: The store would be closing permanently in November. Unrelated to the pandemic, the closure supports expansion of Daniel Smith’s paint manufacturing and wholesale business, which is the company’s bread and butter. Although I was relieved to know that DS wasn’t going out of business, that didn’t soften the blow of the store’s closure.  

Much more than just a retail store, Daniel Smith offered workshops, demos, vendor days, book signings, presentations and other events that had brought the art community together for 45 years. It was also very supportive of Urban Sketchers Seattle. I will miss the knowledgeable, helpful staff. We have other art supply stores here, but they will not fill the hole left behind when DS closes its doors.

Through my various casual art forays over the years, I wandered many times up and down the aisles, both dazzled and bewildered by all the possibilities those art materials represented. When I began urban sketching and learning to draw in earnest a decade ago, I started attending demos and workshops. The last few years, I even had ambitions of someday offering demos or classes there myself.

This morning I did my best to help DS clear remaining inventory (the 20 percent discount didn’t hurt) by stocking up on favorites, but as my final shopping trip there, it was probably the saddest art supply shopping I’ve ever done.

(Incidentally, Daniel Smith’s logo and signage include a saguaro, which I’ve always thought was strange for a Seattle-based store. I’m sure there’s a story there, but I’ve never heard it.)


  1. Nice post, Tina! I'm ashamed to say I have never gone to the store. But will definitely go before it closes...

    1. Go soon! I think the shelves will be empty long before November!

  2. Your words express exactly how I feel, as well.

    The cactus: I heard the real Daniel Smith speak during a visit a few years ago. The reason is simply that he likes it.

    1. Hmmm... I would have guessed he was originally from the Southwest!

  3. Agreed. We love going to DS when we're in the city. It's been the core of art challenges and new materials for me.