The launch open day will be on Wednesday, December 1 when there will be ten per cent off all sales from the shop.
Oxmarket chairman Sophie Hull said: “We’re diversifying our income streams. With (new Oxmarket director) Andrew Churchill’s experience at Watts Gallery and Pallant House of sourcing original locally made works we are offering a range of beautifully crafted gifts and items to suit all budgets, making our shop a must-go-to for any visitor to Chichester or online. The Courtyard will feature outside garden items which make perfect Christmas gifts.”
Andrew, who joined the gallery in September, said it was all part of an exciting time for the venue: “I am absolutely loving it here. It has been brilliant. I can’t believe it has only been two and a half months, but it has been great and the shop is a natural next move.
“We are already well known for our greeting cards and we have always been known for our selling exhibitions so this is a natural departure for us.
“One of the key things I needed to do as the new gallery director was to diversify our income which means we needed to be looking at a much wider variety of methods of raising money, just to make things a lot more secure for the charity as we go forward so that we’re not just reliant on one or two big sources of income such as the gallery hire. If something big comes along like the pandemic and we can’t open, we are left in a very vulnerable state. So we broached the idea of having a shop and the board were very keen. It will mean that we will have a much more stable income. It also fits perfectly because the shop will be an extension of all that we do here anyway in terms of supporting artists and makers and designers of all types.
“The first decision that we made was that things will be UK made with even more of a particular focus on artists and designers and makers from our counties, as we see them, West and East Sussex and Hampshire and Surrey. We will have some artists coming from further afield but it will be mostly these counties..
“We also decided that we would buy the stock rather than operating on a sale or return basis. Sale or return is quite tough on artists. They don’t get paid until the stock gets sold and we would be sitting on a lot of their stock until it does get sold and so they don’t get either stock or income for a while. Our policy is if we find something that we like, we want to commit to it. We will buy it and we will support the artists. It does mean that we are weighing up the risks of how much stock to hold. We’re not going to go too deep into the ordering. It is difficult to know how much to have: you don’t want to hold too much but running out of stock would be even worse!”
A key feature of the shop will be a section of works on paper.
“It is all really exciting. I have always visited here and what I could always see was what it could be and the extraordinary opportunities that there might be. It is wonderful to be part of that now thanks to the refresh at the start of the year, the redevelopment of the building which was so well managed by our chair Sophie. It is now more than fit for purpose. The building is beautiful and it is extraordinary to think of the great history of this place, sitting here in a building that is so old. I find its history fascinating and it’s an extraordinary privilege to be in this building and to be part of such a rich history. And the job now is to continue thinking of ways that we can support artists and designers and makers and to offer them more opportunities and to continue to make this building better and better in the years to come.”