Blick Art store on Huntington and Mass. Ave. to close in March


Blick Art Materials store on the corner of Huntington and Massachusetts Avenues will shut down. Photo credit Harriet Rovniak.

Renée Abbott, news staff

On March 18, Blick Art Materials store on the corner of Huntington and Massachusetts Avenues will shut down. Situated near Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Northeastern University and Wentworth Institute of Technology, Blick catered to students as well as local artists on a college-filled street in a large college city. 

Blick currently has three locations in Boston: Cambridge, Fenway and this particular store across from the Symphony neighborhood. 

The Massachusetts Avenue Blick store is located right next to the Symphony T station and under Caffė Bene. When customers enter the store, they are greeted by tables of retail items and an employee welcoming them. To the right, they will find rows filled with paint and other various tools and ahead, rows of brushes, sculpting materials and other art materials. There is also a level below with a section devoted to kids’ supplies, sketchbooks, easels and storage for art supplies. 

The Blick company began in 1911 after the founders Dick and Grace Blick began selling Payzant lettering pens. They continued adding products geared towards SignWriting and focused on fast shipment. The first Blick store opened in 1974 and two generations later, the Blick family has over 60 stores across the country. In 2013, Blick bought Utrecht, a rival art supply chain and added their 45 stores to Blick’s growing enterprise.

Blick is a certified “Great Place to Work,” an award that recognizes companies that scored positively on an employee wide survey regarding workplace culture, and fosters a work environment based on respect and trust. Employee and local artist Dante Miller has worked at the Massachusetts Avenue Blick location for four years and will transfer to the Fenway location once the store shuts down. 

“We had our choice between which store we wanted to go to. I think most of us chose that one just because it’s closer to where most of us live,” Miller said. “It’s the most convenient to get to, even though it is still out of the way.”

Miller, who does traditional paintings, as well as digital art and comics, said that Blick has helped him connect with other art lovers.

“[The customer base is] definitely students and local artists, myself being one of them, and then ones that I have met throughout my years of selling art and doing small art shows around the city,” Miller said. “I’ve seen quite a few friends come in here and have met even more people since working here.”

Between sketchbooks, paints, brushes, sculpting tools and more, artists and students in the area rely on art supply stores to produce their craft. Besides traditional art majors, architecture majors require materials from Blick as well. Northeastern first-year architecture student Ashanti Tejada, who typically goes to Blick every two weeks, will miss the convenience of the Massachusetts Avenue Blick location. 

“I would have to go much farther just to get my supplies. Obviously I have to buy chip board or foam board and it’s already really big, so then you have to walk farther with that,” Tejada said. “I’ll probably be on the bus with a huge bag lugging it around.”

However, MassArt student Laura Buscemi said she will not be largely impacted as she prefers the Fenway location. She visited the Massachusetts Avenue Blick location to take advantage of the closing sales. 

“I didn’t actually go to this one a lot, I preferred to go to the one [in Fenway] just because I felt like they alway had more of what I wanted and I like the stock there better so I never used to come here as frequently as that one,” Buscemi said. 

Employee Miller Penaflor blames the closing on issues with the landlord. 

“From my understanding, they didn’t want to renew the lease,” Penaflor said. “We haven’t been able to contact them since we closed for COVID.” 

Penaflor also pointed to the poor shape of the store due to “years of neglect from the landlords.” 

The Blick store representatives declined to comment on the Massachusetts Avenue store shutting down. 

“Nobody has any idea what they have planned [for the store],” Miller said.