Bridgit Yinger is an unusual combination of entrepreneur and passionate art fan. Her first stab at making a business from her love of art – the Onion Tree at 120 N. Hillside – didn’t work out so well. It closed a year ago, but she still has faith that there is good market out there for local art if it is marketed right.
Q. What happened with the Onion Tree?
A. It wasn’t a very lucrative business. We did OK. I was always able to pay bills, but it was seven days a week, and it was tough to support local artists and compete against mass production in China. I needed to make a little bit more money for the struggle.
Q. Can you really make a living in the arts?
A. It’s kind of a misconception that artists can’t do well. I had a guy who made handmade lamps that ranged from $95 to $200. If you go to a furniture store and look for lamps of the same size, they’ll be about same price, but they’re made in China. There are just so many middlemen involved in getting things from overseas. It’s not that much cheaper than buying local.
Q. Can artists be good businessmen?
A. So few have a head for business. And there is a fear of selling out and not staying true to who you are and growing more commercial. But I think there is great support for making a living, especially in the Midwest. You could get artists together and make a nice catalog. People on the east and west coasts are used to paying more for art.
Q. Name a few places to buy local art.
A. Flying Pig on East Douglas. Bella Luz and Lucinda’s in Old Town Square. If there are people who want to buy things in a retail setting, there are a number of places.
Q. What are you doing now?
A. I’m waitressing at the Crown Uptown. I make way more than at the shop. … And right now I am finalizing a contract with Riverfest. We will have 150 vendors at Riverfest Marketplace … so I’ll be organizing the market, recruiting local businesses, especially from downtown, and a lot of locally made and artisan booths.