Alliance Member Spotlight on..
Date: August 9, 2016
Today’s member profile is all about Quirks of Art owned by Jennifer Raines. Quirks of Art was nominated for the Small Business of the Year because it is ever so quirky and unique and a local favorite for almost 20 years! A combination of this and his innovativeness of product, staying power, and community contributions led them to become our Small Business of the Year-Retail. Here is a little bit more about Jennifer and Quirks of Art.
Tell us a little more about your business:
“Since 1997, Quirks of Art, formerly known as Kinks, Quirks & Caffeine, has introduced thousands of American artisans to Williamsburg patrons through our ever-changing collection of American-made handcrafted goods, ranging from furniture to jewelry, pottery to hand-blown glass, and wall art to handmade rugs. Many locals shop with us to find unique home decor and meaningful gifts, but also because they feel good about supporting a vibrant and engaged local business that, in turn, supports American artisans. It is not just our locals who love Quirks of Art, visitors to our area find it a whimsical reprieve and an exciting stop during their Williamsburg vacations. Many regular visitors make sure they stop in every time they come through Williamsburg. Aside from the excellent selection of handcrafted goods and artistic products, it has to be our team and upbeat, cheerful environment that keeps the guests so happy and coming back for more. Our crew is handpicked, and held to the highest standards of excellence. They are exceptionally cheerful, knowledgeable about our products, and passionate about our community.”
How long have you been in business?
“We will be celebrating our 20th anniversary in 2017!”
How has your company grown?
“As with many small businesses, the ebb and flow of sales is something monitored very closely. In the past two years alone, we’ve seen a change in our guest’s tastes, requests, and buying patterns. We constantly change our offerings in a way that stratifies the Quirks of Art mission, but also meets our guest’s demands. It is a winning combination, and we have seen an increase in the quantity and quality of our sales.”
How has your product and/or service been innovated?
“By setting a tone of “contemporary, not colonial”, Quirks of Art brings a necessary influx of art and American handcrafts to Williamsburg. Customers come from neighboring states specifically to purchase our highly-regarded handcrafted art and furniture. For local shoppers accustomed to finding only colonial-style crafts in the area, the assortment of one-of-a-kind artwork provides a visual respite from the traditional fare.
With the creative talents of approximately 1,500 artists behind us, it is hard to to say a visit to Quirks of Art is not inspiring. We are constantly inspired by our products, artists, and our guests. Employees are encouraged to put fun first, and always strive to offer our guests a unique and memorable experience, rather than just another product purchase. Not only can they find Virginia-made goods and one-of-a-kind handcrafted treasures, guests can receive free gift-wrapping and worldwide shipping on their purchases.
Our team is constantly brainstorming new ideas and challenges. Our creativity can be found manifested in events, like Art & Soul ( a concert and art show event), pop–up ice cream parties, treasure hunts, or Sparkle Friday, our anti-Black Friday ‘mission’. Quirks of Art strives to stand out and showcase all the power and uniqueness a small business can bring to a community for which it loves.”
What are some ways you and your business help out the community?
“If 19 years in business has taught us anything, it is that our strong relationship to our community, and dedication to employee AND guest satisfaction is our best weapon in guaranteeing continued success. Jennifer is giving of her time, and devotes herself to working with and mentoring other women in the business community. Since entering the workforce, she has spent much of her spare time and effort supporting various charitable organizations. Some examples include: After the death of her mother in 2002, Jennifer and her family established a scholarship foundation in her mother’s memory. To date, nearly 60 young people have received funding for their educations from the Jean Raines Memorial Scholarship fund.
For many years, she was also very active with the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross. She was the Chairperson for the American Heart Association’s 2002 & 2003 Heart Galas, collectively raising nearly $200,000 for the charity. When the Gulf Coast was hit by Hurricane Katrina, she was immediately trained as a Disaster Human Relief Worker with the American Red Cross. She took three weeks unpaid leave from her job to help others in need.
In the business community, Jennifer started at a young age, by becoming highly involved in the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. She was recognized with the “Above and Beyond” award for outstanding volunteer service three years in a row. Then served as the youngest Chairperson ever for the Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Gala event in 2002. Additionally, she was a member of the Riverwalk Landing Marketing Committee, the American Marketing Association, and the American Association of Craft Retailers. She served on the inaugural Board of Directors for the Downtown Hampton Development Partnership for three years and was instrumental in events and positive changes that took place in Downtown Hampton. In 2010, despite drastically declining business, she made a personally sponsored an “Honor Flight”, giving 55 World War II Veterans their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.
Today, Jennifer’s tireless efforts to promote American Handcrafts and independent artisans have made her gallery highly regarded nationally and within the local art community. To date, her business has made over $50,000 in cash and product donations to local charitable organizations. She is the co-founder of the Winter Blues Jazz Fest and the arts and culture non-profit organization, CultureFix. She and her team at Quirks of Art have installed a “Little Free Library” outside of the shop, promoting literacy and encouraging the community to ‘recycle’ by sharing their favorite books. They host an annual ‘Shop for Good’ campaign, where customers can choose any non-profit organization, school, or church to receive a donation equal to %10 of their purchases. Most notably, they have started their annual ‘Sparkle Friday’ initiative. It’s traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, but they close the doors and spend the day doing acts of goodness in the community.”