Tacoma residents tend to embrace locally owned businesses, a fact that is significantly evident when you speak to the customers and employees of Artco Crafts and Frames on 6th Avenue. While there are other big box craft stores in town, Artco offers something unique – a great selection while retaining the local connection. The store, owned by Trina Davis, first opened its doors to Tacoma’s hobby, arts and crafts enthusiasts over 25 years ago, and has been winning the loyalty of residents ever since.
“When people start working here, they tend to stay; they don’t want to leave. Most of the employees have been working here for over 10 years,” says Pam Thomas, an employee who has been with Artco for a year and a half.
Artco carries every craft item you can imagine—and then some. Customers rely on Artco for all their glass block, home decor, crochet, holiday, knitting, papercraft, floral, beading, organizing, fabric and vinyl projects.
The store also carries art supplies, of course, including oil and acrylic paints, drawing pencils, sketchbooks, canvasses and a variety of paper.
“We have a really good frame shop too, extremely good. We do a lot of really big stuff,” adds Rebecca Cooper, another loyal Artco employee.
Cooper says that the most popular items “are home decor, party and gift decorations, scrap booking and coloring books, and supplies.”
One customer who comes in regularly to satisfy her coloring fix is Tacoma Community College student, Serene Evergreen. “Oh, I love this store,” she says smiling. “You don’t get the same service at a chain store. Everyone that works here is so nice.” She adds, “Besides, I’d rather give my money to a local business than a faceless corporation. I like to support my community.”
Asked if customers are as loyal as the staff, Cooper says that Artco has “tons of regulars.”
“Lots of people say they wish they had come here first before going to one of the chain stores,” says Thomas about customers who have recently discovered Artco.
As one might imagine, Artco Crafts also hosts all kinds of crafty events. One popular event is the Make & Take, which is exactly what it sounds like—an event where you make your own craft and get to take it home. These events are not focused on a specific craft, but are a great way to spend time with other crafters, share ideas and enjoy some creative time.
Another event popular with locals is the Fabricadabra. Don’t worry—we also had to ask what a Fabricadabra entails. Attend a Fabricadabra event at Artco to learn a fabric-related crafting technique such as quilting, maybe win a door prize, receive a coupon and drink some tea while munching on delicious cookies.
“The events sound like they’d be a lot of fun,” says Kathy Osbourne, who shops at Artco for items to decorate her Ruston home. “I’m planning to attend the Scrapbook Party on June 24, which is called Lawn Fawn Frenzy. I don’t know what to expect, but it sounds pretty exciting, don’t you think?”
Spend some time talking with Cooper and Thomas and it is easy to see why locals rave about the store. The employees’ enthusiasm is infectious.
It is also authentic—one of Artco’s most loyal customers is Thomas herself. “I get gift cards for myself so that I don’t spend my entire paycheck,” she says laughing.
Artco also believes in paying it forward, so make sure to take advantage of discount days. On Mondays, if you’re 55 years old or older, you get 10 percent off regularly priced items. On Tuesdays, Artco offers a military discount, also good for 10 percent off regularly priced items.
Artco Crafts and Frames is located at 5401 6th Avenue, #401 in Tacoma. Curious about upcoming events? Visit the store’s website or call 253-759-9585.