Douglas Albert Gallery to close longtime Downtown State College store after loss of lease
The Douglas Albert Gallery, 107 Pat Daugherty Walkway, pictured here on Wednesday February 16, 2022. Photo by Geoff Rushton | StateCollege.com
After more than four decades of activity, Douglas Albert Gallery will close its art shop in downtown State College this spring.
Landlord Douglas Albert said the building’s landlords refused to renew his lease and that, on an interim basis, he had to vacate the location at 107 Pat Daugherty Walkway by April 30.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be here forever, but I thought I would leave on my terms, not on someone kicking me out like that,” Albert said.
Attempts to reach the owners of the building for comment were unsuccessful.
According to Albert, his rental rate is “fair,” but earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, when his store had to temporarily close and he lost business, he was unable to afford the rent. total amount each month. He said it was then put on a month-to-month lease, instead of the yearly lease it had previously, and started paying the full amount again when it fully reopened. He added that he had reached an agreement with the owners of the building to pay a negotiated amount for the overdue rent.
In November, Albert says, he received a letter informing him that his lease would not be renewed and that he was due out in February. He was then granted a three-month lease to remain in the store until April, but says that otherwise his offers to negotiate a lease until at least the end of the year have been rejected.
Albert said the only reason he was given for not renewing his lease was that his store didn’t fit the building’s business plans.
He is now looking for a new location to sell art and collectibles, but he said it was difficult to find a place that suited his needs and that wouldn’t require expensive construction. The gallery is currently organizing a sale to liquidate part of its stock.
“It’s going to cost me a lot just to get out of here,” Albert said. “I want to stay in business and I want to continue to be part of the fabric of the community.”
A potential location identified by Albert is the former Paul & Tony’s Stereo on South Atherton Street, although nothing has been signed and he is still researching other possible locations. His other options, he said, would be to move to an online business or shut down the gallery business altogether.
“I’m not crazy about what’s happening downtown and I see a change in the demographics. I’m smart enough to know the writing is on the wall for small businesses downtown, unless you’re a chain,” he said. “But I like being here. I would rather end my artistic career out of this place and not have to invest in another place and reinvent myself.
Albert said he will miss the walk-in trade and returning visitors, as well as the atmosphere along the catwalk with neighboring businesses Harper’s and The Tavern.
“I love what the tavern has done. They did an amazing job [with remodeling]. It’s a first-class place,” he said. “I thought there was a nice symbiotic relationship between me and Harper’s. We are three quality places and this city lacks quality places. It’s a nice environment here and it seemed to improve with what The Tavern has done.
Albert opened the gallery in 1981, a decade after opening his first business, Uncle Eli’s Artist Marketplace, which continues to operate at 129 E. Beaver Ave. and has a different owner.
The gallery’s closure, Albert said, ‘is going to be another nail in the coffin for downtown State College,’ as mom-and-pop shops struggle to meet the costs of doing business and compete with retailers. online and chain stores.
“They don’t think we can be competitive, and I think we are competitive,” he said. “I’ve cut my margins a lot to be able to compete with online sellers of art supplies because they have to match those prices. But I think the cost of doing business with insurance…I’ve had to give raises to all of my employees and it costs me more on some days to keep my doors open than I bring in. The cost of doing business, if you’re a national chain, you can absorb all of that.
“When I started my business in 1970, State College was a beautiful city. There was no internet, of course. They were all family owned stores and now they are literally all gone except for a handful of us.