ARCH Art Supplies Relocates to College Campus

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After about five years of doing business from a red warehouse building at 10 Carolina Street, ARCH Art Supplies is moving to a new ground floor space below Blattner Hall, on the California College of the Arts (CCA) campus. The 17th Street building, across from Jackson Playground, was constructed in 2018. 

“ARCH Art Supplies has been the go-to location for California College of the Arts students and faculty since the store moved to Potrero Hill 20 years ago,” said Taryn Lott, a CCA staff member. “The new Blattner Hall location is just the latest iteration in ARCH’s long history and continuous evolution.” 

ARCH originally opened in Jackson Square. In 2001, the store moved to 17th Street and has been in various sites in the neighborhood ever since. 

 “Because CCA’s students are doing such ground-breaking things with 3D printing, CNC machines, laser cutting, and computer-generated design, we’ve upped our game to provide the tools and supplies they need,” said ARCH’s owner Susie Coliver. “We’re probably the only art supply store in the country which also stocks plywood and rotary sandpaper, cast acrylics and REN foam blocks, Killer Red tapes, and the like.” 

“When [we] first started out, it was not an art supply store,” Coliver continued. “We began forty-three years ago in 1978, and we were exclusively selling drafting supplies, which used to be the very bread and butter of our business. Throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, manual drafting was still the only way to create architectural, landscape architectural, and engineering drawings…so we had a store that had nothing but supplies and equipment for design professional, who today need almost nothing.”

“Over the years, we’ve morphed into art supplies; at this point, it feels like we are morphing again; not away from art materials but more into the prototyping as well. We’ve had to be nimble and roll with the punches throughout the years, but it’s opened up all sorts of new avenues for us. It’s been very exciting. In recent years, we’ve put in a lot of materials for prototyping, product design, and industrial design, because there’s so much of that being done in the Bay Area and at [CCA].”

According to Coliver, “a majority of practicing artists in San Francisco live in the southeast quadrant, and ARCH Art Supplies is one of the only stores like it to serve the City’s artist community.” 

Coliver said that a visit to a local art supply store offers far more value than purchasing from an online retailer. 

“Everyone who works here has an arts background and most are practicing artists,” Coliver said. “They know a lot, and they give out free information all day long. You can play with materials, experiment, and be exposed to what’s possible! When you buy online, you only get exposed to just what you search for. Just as a vibrant community needs libraries and bookstores, we need to feed our creative impulses.”