Few businesses have witnessed the centurial transformation of Tucson quite like Posner’s Art Store.
The University Avenue institution, founded in 1913 by the late Louie Posner, a sign painter looking to launch a store with the type of arcane art supplies that others overlooked—lives on to the modern day.
The store, which was sold by the Posner family three decades ago to Dick Brown, moved five years ago from its Park Avenue cornerstone shop to its current digs a stone’s throw from the UA campus.
The Brown family has maintained the store’s prominent position in Tucson’s art scene thanks to their unique collection of supplies and friendly disposition, according to current proprietor Emily Brown.
“I’ve been here forever, and I can talk all day long about any supply you have a question about and really know what the customer is looking for,” Brown said. “So, our customers can come in and know who we are, and they’ll know what kind of service they’re going to get, which definitely helps.”
The family maintains close with the University, as well as Pima Community College, supplying art materials and supplies to both institutions.
They’ve worked with generation after generation of artists in Southern Arizona, and believe their track record gives them the type of name recognition within the community as a whole to thrive in an ever-competitive marketplace, with online retailers like Amazon snatching customers.
“We’re friendly, and we’re here to help the community,” Brown said. “I couldn’t have a better job, I’ll tell you. When customers leave smiling, it’s what makes your day.”
Brown believes her store, and art in general, is important to the community, as they provide the supplies needed to allow people to express themselves creatively.
“Like I said, we’re all in this together,” she said. “And it’s nice when people are happy and pleased and getting to do what they want to do. I think art is good for the soul. Whether you’re good at it or not isn’t even the point. I think it’s something people can go home and relax and get away from their day and I think it’s good for you.”
Brown points to the community’s overwhelming support in helping the store move from Park to University Avenue in 2012 as evidence that their community-first mindset is working.
She remembered how complete strangers donated their time to helping arrange shelves and do a lot of the leg-work in setting up the new location, and how supportive the community as a whole was of her business.
“It was just really nice that the community really stuck by us,” Brown said. “And I was running the register off the floor. We didn’t even have counters set up yet, and it was really nice how the community came together to help us. We wouldn’t be here without their support.”
The support has helped Brown in innumerable ways, especially after Dick passed away last year, when customers would send letters of support every day.
She’s in the process of passing the family store to her daughter, Jenny, and says she’s confident they’ll be around for many years to come.
Jenny believes that the company’s long history in the city, along with its personable approach to business, will keep the store open for years to come.
“Posner’s has been Tucson’s go-to local art store for over 100 years,” she said. “We have everything for students and professional artists, including knowledgeable advice and friendly service. We love our Tucson community, and are always excited to inspire creativity and nurture new artists.”