ArtBitz, a fine art gallery and gift shop has joined the growing list of new businesses calling Chatfield’s Main Street (Hwy. 52) home. The store opened its doors May 5 in the former Bailiwick antique store just a couple blocks from the Chatfield Center for the Arts and near the town’s new brewery.
When visiting ask the glitzy, gutzy galz, 80-year-old Alice Ernster, marketing manager and 75-year-old June Lamb-Kmiecik, art director, for a guided tour, as every nook and cranny is filled with sparkly covered art pieces. That one piece you overlook might just be the piece you are looking for.
Shoppers will find a collection of jewelry boxes and boxes embellished with recycled jewelry and a selection of custom-designed jewelry bound to make a statement. The galz pointed out the $2 garage sale find, a black antique high-top shoe transformed into a white high-top shoe adorned with a string of white faux pearl beads.
Diamond art is a new trend that is a perfect fit for an art gallery that boasts “distinctly unusual, always unique” pieces. Lamb-Kmiecik’s original artwork was copied on canvas and “painted” one by one with glitzy round or square beads. Shoppers can also find decorated tote bags and wine bags.
Recycled bicycle seats and handlebars have been transformed into masterpieces. Lamb-Kmiecik noted, “Picasso was the first to do it.” She also pointed out stunning glass pieces that she created and shared that working with glass is her specialty.
The galz pointed out the decorated flamingos gracing the store’s front window, emphasizing that 50% of flamingo sales are donated to Habitat for Humanity.
The shop also carries items from other artists including family members. Ernster’s daughter out of Rochester makes the gnomes gracing the gallery’s sitting room. The galz pointed out the beaded window coverings and mentioned that there are 11 chandeliers lighting up the store.
ArtBitz is not the first gallery Lamb-Kmiecik has managed. She has owned five art galleries, and has an extensive art education.
Ernster is a resident of Chatfield and an accomplished bridge player.
Seventy-five-year-old Mike Kmiecik is the gallery’s business manager and the gallery handyman. The smallest member of the management team is Lucky, a fluffy little white pooch that can be found lounging in Ernster’s lap.
It is gutzy to open a retail store during a pandemic, but it is really gutzy to open a retail store during a pandemic in your golden years. Lamb-Kmiecik shared that her long-time friend and bridge partner, Ernster was going downhill and the month prior to opening the store she was rushed by ambulance to the emergency room five times. Upon the advice of her granddaughter who is studying to become a doctor, Lamp-Kmiecik knew that the best way to help her friend was to keep her busy; thus, they found a store, the price was right, the best landlord and a supportive community that they decided to open the gallery in Chatfield. Ernster has been working 9- to 10-hour days and has not stopped working. She has not had any medical emergencies since she started working at the shop.
Watch for art classes to be held in the store in the future. Lamb-Kmiecik mentioned that the first class will be wine glasses decorated with brightly colored jewels.
The galz are planning on hosting bridge games twice a week in the store.
The public is invited to the store’s grand opening on Saturday, June 4, from 1-3 p.m. Enjoy drinks and pizza from PawPrint Brewery and enjoy a live performance from The Buck Hollow Band. The first 100 visitors will receive a free gift. This is guaranteed to be a fun event that you will not want to miss!
The gallery is located at 204 Main Street and is open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to call ahead if driving a distance to ensure that they are open on Sunday. Shoppers can reach the galz at email@example.com or by calling the store at (507) 254-8105.
Taking a line from the store’s promotional brochure, “The galz can’t wait to see you!”