http://www.cheapjoes.com -- Welcome to Cheap Joe's Test Studio!
Joe Miller and company discuss how Cheap Joe's Art Stuff began and grew into the business it is today. Joe Miller introduces the following people at this evening's fireside chat:
Frank & Barbara Webb
What this is going to be this evening is just a fun evening of getting acquainted and getting to know each other. We thought a good way to start would be for me to take a few minutes and tell you how Cheap Joe's got started.
I was a pharmacist at Boone Drug Company in downtown Boone, the old store, for many years. In the early 80's I decided to take up this thing called watercolor.
Every time I would see one I would think I could do that, that's an easy thing to do. It didn't quite work that way. I went to the dime store and bought a little set of Prang watercolors and watercolor paper.
I was trying to copy this painting, I still have the print. Many of you have seen it, it has a little building up in the left hand corner and a wheat field and crows above it.
It had a name at the bottom that I really wasn't that familiar with, it was Andrew Weiss. I tried to copy it but it didn't work too good.
One year for Christmas a good friend of mine who taught English at ASU gave me three lessons with an art professor at ASU named Noyes Long. I took my paintings to show him, he said bring your paintings and I did.
I had several full sheet paintings that I had piddled with. Noyes looked through them and found one of the paintings and he said "Look at this little spot right here, how'd you do that?" The spot was the size of a postage stamp and I said I didn't know how I did that. He said it was great. He said "You go back and make that your entire painting."
So I left that night feeling so good, never realizing that 99.9% of my painting was not too good.
So I took my little set of watercolors and he said that night "You're going to have to get some new materials, you can't do this thing with these things you got. I'm going to give you a list." And he did, he gave me a list with 10 colors of Winsor & Newton 15 ml watercolor, a John Pike palette, and a Winsor & Newton series seven size 14 brush.
I drove to Charlotte and gave the lady at an art store my list and started looking around. A few minutes later she came over and said "I have your materials for you, will there be anything else?" I think I had picked up a bottle of masking fluid or something else and a book by Ted Kautzky.
She said "That will be $690."
Professor Long had told me don't go buy a sheet of paper or you'll never become a watercolor artist because you'll be scared to death you're going to ruin your one sheet of paper. And that's true. I still advocate that rule today, don't buy 25 sheets buy 100!
A friend of mine in Durham invited me to come to the North Carolina Watercolor Society meeting. It was about 1985 I think or 1986.
I go to the meeting and there at the door was this little fellow handing out these little tubes of Rembrandt Watercolor. I said "Are you the salesman for Rembrandt?" He said "Yup, I'm the salesman for Rembrandt and Arches paper." I said "Really? I want to talk to you when you get a minute."
So after he came over I said "I want to start buying from you. I want to open up an account with you." "Great," he said "You have an art store." "No," I said "I have a drug store." He said "A drug store?" I said "Yeah" and he said "No, we can't sell to you."
I said "why?" He says "I'll tell you why. We sell to a dentist up in New Jersey and he doesn't do any good at all." I said "A dentist? Wait a minute, my drug store is in the middle of town, everybody comes there for coffee they'd love it! I can't imagine going to the dentist for art supplies!" "No," he said "I still can't do it."
That evening they had what they call a cash bar. I went over there and there stood my friend with a drink in his hand with some salt around it.
I said "Steve, how you doing?" He said "I'm doing good." I said "What is that you're drinking?" He said "That's a margarita." I thought margarita, from Boone NC we didn't have margaritas, we had white lightning and moonshine and that's about it.
He drank his margarita and I said "How about another one? I'm buying." He said that would be alright. So he drank that one too and we talked for a little bit and I said "Like another drink, Steve?" "Well," he said "one more would be alright."
So he drank his third drink and I said "Steve, I wish you'd reconsider selling me art materials." "Hell," he said "I'd be glad to! I sell to a dentist up in New Jersey and he really sells the stuff!" So I held his feet to the fire and placed an order and that was our first order that came into the drug store.