Ulster County Executive's Arts Awards 2023
Catskill Art Supply
The secret to his success is simple: outstanding customer service. That’s how Catskill Art Supply has managed to stay in business for 45 years, according to founder and owner Paul Soli-Cohen. “Other people have tried to copy our business model. First, we offer a wide breadth of inventory—and then we have the most dedicated staff, who are good listeners and advocate for our customers,” he says.
Catskill Art Supply won the 2023 Ulster County Executive’s Arts Award for a business.
In 1978 Paul, a Philadelphia native, got laid off from his job as a teacher at a small private school that went out of business. That’s when he moved into the arts supply business, opening his first store in Woodstock. Later, he ran an additional two outlets of the beloved store—one in Poughkeepsie, and one in Kingston. Paul added services throughout the years, including custom picture framing and a copy shop.
Today, only the Kingston shop remains, but Paul says that overall business remains good and he has found that loyal customers are willing to travel. These days, Paul spends much of the year in Mexico, where he finally has the time to explore his own artistic ambitions. “When I travel, I use oil pastels and colored pencil because of the mobility factor. When I’m in the studio, I paint with acrylics,” he says. “I’ve never had any kind of art training, but eventually I’d like to graduate to oil painting. It’s fun: I finally have the opportunity to use the supplies that I’ve been vending for 45 years.”