A pink and purple storefront that sells used art supplies and is populated by colorful characters might sound like a hilariously ironic Portlandia sketch, but it's all so so so real.
The enterprising and kaleidoscopic Clinton Edminster threw open the doors to Starlandia Creative Supply on Bull Street exactly a year ago, offering a wonderland of incomplete paint sets, slightly frayed paintbrushes, rattling cans of spray paint, grab bags of beads, neatly folded fabric remnants, piles of paper, stacks of frames and everything else an artist could want or use, all at modest prices.
Predicated on a supply chain fed by donations and scrounge scores as well as new inventory, Starlandia recycles unwanted art materials by sorting them in a surprisingly organized back room and repackaging them for the treasure-packed aisles. The crafty concept saves garbage from the landfill and thesis projects from going over-budget—and yes, it’s turning a profit.
“The system is working,” reports general manager Heather MacRae, referred to “Manager General” by her boss.
“It shows that we’re filling a need that was genuinely there.”
The mood is always light and the music always jamming at Starlandia, where a small mannequin dubbed Tom the Time-Traveling Transvestite oversees the wares. Weekly art workshops on everything from kite-making to publishing your own ‘zine keep hands and minds busy, and the massive community bulletin board offers plenty of connective resources.
The store has also helped anchor the thriving commercial scene in the Starland District and serves as the hub for Art Rise Savannah and the First Friday Art March, both organized by the indomitable Edminster. This 25 year-old community wunderkind also collaborated with the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority this spring to host Better Block, a temporary installation that created 30,000 square feet of public space and opportunities for grassroots change.
In a way, Starlandia is just a front for Edminster’s endless enthusiasm for engaging Savannah’s citizenry in supporting local art and commerce. His plans are to evolve the shop into a “neighborhood utility store” by adding more tools and fix-it items, and conscious consumers can expect the shelves to offer more new art supplies, because “sometimes you just want a full marker.”
So stop it with the hipster jokes already: Starlandia might be a wacky galaxy of wonderful weirdness, but its ideology is here to stay.
“Sustainability is the core of our business plan, and I honestly believe in capitalism as the most effective way of providing resources and choices to people’s lives,” muses Edminster, twirling a paintbrush.
“I really think it’s possible to have both.” —Jessica Leigh Lebos
Runner up: Hobby Lobby