It seems that Cass Art has been an established art shop since 1984 with shops across the country and a reasonable presence online.
It was sheer fluke whilst trawling Twitter one evening that I noticed that a new shop would be opening on Corporation Street in Birmingham on the 9th April. This is good news for this area to have shops opening again – there has been an awful lot of construction work on this street for the last few years, with the tram works still ongoing and the revamp of New Street Station, which has meant that there has been severe disruption and drop in footfall.
The “pay attention” catch on the tweet? The first 1000 people to spend over £10 would get a goodie bag with freebies worth £50. I strolled to Corporation Street for about 10:30 on Saturday 9th, thinking “that’s ambitious, they’ll never get close to 1000 people, this will be a doddle”. I think I was wrong. The queue was visible as soon as I turned the corner, and I was glad I had brought something to eat (stupidly hadn’t brought anything to drink, however). Staff came out at irregular times to offer free bags of popcorn. (Would have preferred water, but beggars can’t be choosers!).
An hour later, I was at the front of the queue and answering a few survey questions from one of the rather chipper organisers.
There was a level of crowd control, that meant it was a semi-formal “1 in 1 out” rule in place. This meant that once you got past the queue for the tills (situated at the front of the store), there was a decent enough room to move around and not feel too oppressed, which was good, as I don’t do well in too-crowded shops. I had gone in with nothing specific in mind but picked up a couple of sketchbooks and some pens. It was nice to see there was a good mix of staff in the store – a Muslim lady was walking the floor and checked that I was ok (with Birmingham being a multicultural city, I like to see a mix of staff on the floor).
There were plenty of staff on the tills – both were in use, with other staff helping with packing. This it turned out, was where the delay was. The staff were chugging along at as reasonable speed, but were still new, and double checking much of what they were doing. There were the usual suspect customers, whose primary concern is to be the next one served, whether or not they piss off anyone behind them. Of course, being rather British, no one told the woman to get back to her own till and allow the woman she had cut up to be served correctly.
I came away with the following haul:
Moleskin sketch album
Cass Art cartridge paper
“Open for art in Birmingham” sketching book
Conte a Paris sorted pastels
Liquitex acrylic paint
Liquitex paint marker
Windsor and Newton tube
Michael Harding oil paint tube
6 Derwent charcoal pencils
Pilot v7 roller pen
Letraset ] pro marker pen
Windsor and Newton watercolour marker
Uniball erasable rollerball
Derwent graphix line maker and line painter