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If Utrecht is your favorite art supply store, you might be sad about this. Although I never shopped there exclusively, over the years I have been known to purchase Utrecht-brand paints and painting supplies and I have consistently used them to put together art class supply packages for students. While not the best in the world, Utrecht’s brands have been solid and dependable and the prices could not be better. Imagine my surprise to find out Utrecht Art Supplies has been bought by a larger company – Blick Art Materials, one of the chain’s largest competitors. The Illinois-based Blick has purchased 45 Utrecht stores in April 2013 and added them to their own string of 39 locations.

Don’t worry, this is probably a good thing. First of all, Dick Blick is updating their image and getting rid of the ‘Dick’ in their name. They will henceforth be known as Blick Art Supplies. So far, so good. The other good news is this: Blick is actually going to invest in Utrecht brand paint and continue to make it available. Utrecht has manufactured its own brand for about sixty years and sold it in a number of smaller stores across the country. Blick’s plan for Utrecht paint is to elevate the brand and invest heavily to modernize the production plant. According to Warren Smith, the General Manager at the Baltimore Store, “The biggest thing for your readers to know is that Utrecht paint is going nowhere, it will actually get better. Other Utrecht items that were not manufactured by Utrecht in the first place will switch to Blick products, but the store will introduce more ‘name brands’.”

When Blick took over, prices were lowered immediately to compete with less expensive stores, but there were no other major changes instituted. Long term, customers can expect the aisles to grow to seven feet tall, to create more space for new items and more selection. Smith, who has worked at Utrecht for five years, says that the transition to Blick is good news for Utrecht’s customers, and will hopefully attract those who were not fans of the store.

“We will be adding a lot of new products and stocking a lot more inventory, as well as having access to everything on Blick’s website,” says Smith. “I am genuinely excited to be able to buy things that we have not carried as Utrecht. Crafters will be happy, but fine artist shouldn’t worry because anyone who has been in a Blick store knows that they have a lot of higher end product too. As a painter I’m excited about new brush lines and the deals that Blick has on canvases.”

As it is now back-to-school-season, a feeding frenzy for retailers, it will be interesting to see how the new Blick Art Materials fares in Baltimore’s cultural landscape. If you happen to shop there, post a comment at Bmoreart and let us know how it was.