Small Businesses, Big Results: Quirks of Art

by Ryan Miller

By Ryan Miller

Owner: Jennifer Raines
Originally opened as Kinks, Quirks & Caffeine in 1997 and became Quirks of Art in 2011
Location: 423 Prince George St., Williamsburg
Number of Employees: 3

Williamsburg handcraft gallery and retail store Quirks of Art is celebrating 20 years in business this year, a feat stemmed from shop owner Jennifer Raines’ commitment to enrich the community while supporting artists and American industry. Since its start, Quirks of Art has represented the works of over 1,400 artists in the forms of pottery, glass, jewelry, furniture, metal, mixed media and fiber with over 400 pieces at a time on display. Raines also searches all over the country for a carefully curated selection of art unique to Quirks of Art that makes shopping at the store an experience in itself.

Quirks of Art originally began in 1997 as Kinks, Quirks & Caffeine, with Jennifer Raines buying the location after the death of her mother in 2005. At the time, Raines was working in pharmaceutical sales but knew her calling since childhood was in the ownership of an exciting and innovative local retail store. In 2011, the store became Quirks of Art and recently moved its gallery to Prince George Street in the heart of Williamsburg’s downtown area. “Over the years we’ve really grown to love our little tribe of locals and visitors who support us and all of our crazy schemes,” says Raines.

Rather than fitting in with its colonial-era surroundings, Raines has ensured that Quirks of Art offers its own style of artwork with both a function and approachable price point. The majority of its products will not be found anywhere else in the area, a result of the efforts of Raines traveling to wholesale shows and markets throughout the country. Many of the items Quirks sells offer an attraction that connects the artists to guests in the shop, often in a quirky, modern and personal way. Their most popular artwork, their Houston Llew Spiritiles for example, enliven moments of life through a glass-on-copper tiled display. Items range in price points anywhere from $5 to $5,000 in their store and thriving online business. “In all honesty, we listen to our guests. We like to know what they are looking for, what they love,” Raines explains. “We find that focusing on products we love, that have stories is what curates a popular retail selection. It opens a dialogue, and that’s what makes having a small gallery exciting.”

Photo by Jim Pile

Raines also takes pride in the fact that Quirks has become an interactive and vital community hub with artist visits and contributions to the community through their nonprofit Culturefix. The nonprofit coordinates events to promote arts and culture in Greater Williamsburg, including the Winter Blues Jazz Fest, 2nd Sundays Art & Music Festivals, the Big Bluesy and ChowderFest. “We’re always on the lookout for unique ways to have fun, excite our neighbors, make days brighter, extend our reach beyond our store walls and think outside the box,” Raines says.

Raines also runs other retail locations in James City County, York County, Norfolk and Richmond, but she is happy to say that the City of Williamsburg is home. Their newest up-and-coming projct is a Quirks of Art brother store on the Virginia Capital Trail.

“My team likes to say we’re small but mighty, so I would say our goal is to constantly strengthen and grow,” Raines shares. “Maybe not in physical size, because our footprint goes beyond the walls of our brick and mortar store.”

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