Lyon Supply

After almost 20 years my family has sold Lyon Supply, their art supply store. While they're still working there and the name is almost the same (renamed to Lyon Art Supply), they are now employees instead of employers.

 Lyon Art Supply

Lyon Art Supply

The business started when in 1990 my parents, my Aunt Frances, and her husband Bill took over what used to be Saylor Supply in Downtown Long Beach, CA. There was a lot of inventory to go through, but more than that, they had to learn the art supply business. My dad, only about 7 or 8 years after retiring from being a chemist, took on learning how to do custom framing, learning about colors and design as well as the mechanics. My mom brushed off her accounting skills from before I was born. My aunt used to manage a medical library, and Bill had experience running businesses. They pooled all of that together and reopened the store as Lyon Supply.

Early years weren't easy, but before too long they were profitable and able to hire great employees. The store is laid out in three bays, the left being the entrance and cashiers, along with pens/pencils, brushes, paint, paper, and engineering supplies. The middle bay had easels, chairs, portfolios, stencils, etc., and the right bay is the frame shop. The building itself is a bit on the funky side, and some of the carpeting reminds me of what a friend had in college, pieced-together remnants.

Why did they sell? There were lots of factors which went into it, but a major reason was the desire to not be running a business for too many more years (my mom's the youngest, nearing her mid-70's). They know the buyer and have a good relationship with him, and they're passing on knowledge of the clients and products, knowing the business will be in good hands.

They'll continue to keep up with the friendships they've built in the art supply community, even though they'll no longer be directly involved. My mom's so thankful for the people she's gotten to know, since they've always been so generous to her, even to the point of making sure she was looked after when traveling not long after last year's surgery. What she won't tell you, however, is my family has contributed a lot to the group; they consider the art supply community to be extended family.

But wait, there's more! The business is moving across the street later this month, and it's a smaller space. I hear there isn't really room for the frame shop, so they'll need to find another space for that. In the meantime, a bunch of the stuff is in my parents' garage (meaning more stuff than before) and my dad is going back and forth between the two places, about a 20–30 minute drive. We'll be helping them move to the new building and putting things into a new inventory system when we're down there between Christmas and New Year's.

It's funny to think about how I consider Lyon Supply my family's second act, while for my sons it's what Grandma and Grandpa have always done. People are always amazed when they hear my family works full time in retail while in their 70's and 80's!

 Books and engineering supply, looking towards cash registers

Books and engineering supply, looking towards cash registers

 Easels, tables, portfolios

Easels, tables, portfolios

 Sumi cutting glass in the frame shop

Sumi cutting glass in the frame shop