Instead of baseball cards or concert tickets, Bridget McClusky collects art from Memphis makers.
The owner and artist at B.Collective on S Main, Bridget McClusky, opened the retail store nearly a year ago as part of the Open on Main initiative in Downtown Memphis. The shop now features works from over 27 local artists. Bridget is a born and raised Memphian who places a huge emphasis on local makers.
“The artists are thriving and it helps the community thrive. It brings people down here, and the artists themselves will use other local companies to create their products. So it’s all like one big circle of helping each other.”
McClusky understands from an artist’s standpoint that it can be difficult to get your name out there. She explained that content is oversaturated on the internet and booths at festivals and markets can get very expensive. All the while there is no guarantee that your product will ever sell.
“I wanted to create a retail space where [the artists] could creatively come together.” She started with a pop up shop last year, and with five artists they quickly grew out of the space. After moving to the next place the five artists, with the help of Bridget, grew to 18. She wanted to create a small community inside of B. Collective were “nothing collects dust.”
Diversity is another key factor at B.Collective and it’s easy to see. They have lotions, jewelry and pottery in addition to the prints and original paintings in the store. The collection at B.Collective is well cultivated, but how does she choose who will make it to the store?
“We’re in here every day. We know what the public wants. We know what products sell. It’s not about selling so that I make money, it’s about these artists being able to create and continue to create.”
One artist, Johanna Wayland-Smith added, “I was very timid about anything, and she coached me along the way.” Since joining B. Collective, Johanna has branched out to other styles of art and has been commissioned to do a painting of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to be displayed on site.
Bridget is passionate about the store and loves that others are excited too.
“It’s really great to see the tourists, and the locals get so into it. Especially the locals. My daughter asked me the other day, ‘If you could do any job what would you do?’ and I said I’m doing it.”