The long-standing but recently shuttered Laurel Art Center will reopen this weekend for a two-day liquidation sale of its large and eclectic inventory of framed artwork and art supplies, according to Matt Emery, the son of the store owners Leo and Joyce Emery.
Matt Emery purchased the store's entire inventory from his parents earlier this year for about $150,000, and the store itself was closed in mid-February.
The store, which opened in 1977 and has been a regional destination for artists, had been struggling financially in recent years, and "even though the actual closing was rather sudden to some people, it's actually been more than three years in the making," Emery said.
"My father is not in the best of health and my mother's in her 80s, and she just needed to get out from under the store," he said.
Emery said he and his parents have been in "a little bit of a holding pattern" since the store's closing in February, having conversations with interested buyers about the possibility of selling the store and its inventory together.
But those conversations "did not get very far at all" and "kind of fell apart," Emery said, so the family is moving forward with selling the inventory separately.
Emery owns Rehoboth Art and Framing in Delaware — which he called a miniature, 2,000-square-foot version of his father's 10,000-square-foot store — and will move whatever inventory doesn't sell from the Laurel store there.
"Whatever we can sell (in Laurel) is that much less that I have to schlep down here," he said.
Emery said he doesn't know whether to expect two people at the liquidation sale this weekend or 2,000 people. The amount of interest and how much of the inventory sells will determine whether there will be a second liquidation sale in Laurel before the art center is fully cleared out, he said.
There will be large discounts on art supplies, but the "best buys" will be of the framed art work, which will be marked off by up to 75 percent, Emery said.
"To me it's a better buy to get a $200 piece of artwork for 50 bucks than a $4 tube of paint for $2," he said.
Clearing the inventory from the store will "free it up" to buyers, whether they want to fill it with a new art store or something else, he said.
The property, which records show is worth more than $1 million, will likely be put on the market by late summer, Emery said.
The center will be open for the sale between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Emery said his family is doing well and is appreciative of all the support they have received from the community in the last few months from people who have loved the store for years.
He said he welcomes people coming out this weekend to say their goodbyes.