To counteract the temporary closing of ARTini’s Art Lounge due to COVID-19, owner and artist Kate Cook recently started streaming painting videos via Facebook Live and selling art kits to help bring in revenue.
As a small business owner in Athens, Cook said the pandemic “sucks.” Between university organizations, sorority parties and office parties, springtime is typically the busiest time of year for ARTini’s. The business model of the lounge, which celebrated its 9 year anniversary on April 16, is built on people gathering, so it has lost revenue that helps sustain the business “through a dead summer,” Cook said.
“It's tough, I think everyone is doing what they can,” said Cook.
Cook’s Facebook Live videos are free, though she said she is trying to figure out the pricing structure for an online class to make sure it’s “fair” for both her and her consumers. Cook’s take-home DIY kits, which customers can purchase in-store or online for $20-$45 and include everything customers need to complete a painting, are helping to pay her bills and “keep her head above water,” Cook said.
Cook said she continues to hold out hope that summertime will be busier than usual because of the current “forced vacations.” She likes to think that there’s “a light at the end of the tunnel” and was hoping to reopen by May 1, but she doesn’t think it will likely occur.
Beth Ely, a freelance copywriter from Monroe, said she has never gone to an event at ARTini’s, but saw that the lounge was doing classes online through Facebook. Seeing everyone who attended with a glass of wine and painting made it seem like they were really at ARTini’s, Ely said.
“She’s on the screen telling us exactly what to do, meanwhile we're having all these crazy conversations [in the chat section] and she’s got music playing and it's like a party online,” Ely said of Cook’s livestreams.
Ely said the chat at the side of the video helped her to make friends with a couple of other women in the class. After becoming Facebook friends they made plans to meet up in person to hang out at ARTini’s after the “mess” of quarantine is over.