Another small business on Bay Street is closing its doors. Crazy Lady Galleries at 724 Bay St., which features an eclectic mix of whimsical gifts and fanciful art, will soon close its business.
The gallery will close Feb. 26, according to its owners.
In its place will be a new creative-arts-themed business called Bay Street Gallery, owned by Jena Lawrence. The business is expected to open in April.
The new owner, current co-owner Shelly Wilkerson said, “is a talented and knowledgeable young woman with an impressive resume.”
Shelly Wilkerson, Crazy Lady Galleries co-owner, said she and husband Glen are closing the business reluctantly.
Shelly, who is a painter, and Glen, a photographer, are both former “survivors” of the traditional work world. Shelly worked for 32 years as a program scheduler in the nuclear, aerospace and transportation industries. Glen formerly was a machinist, inspector and expediter working for aerospace, rail and ship companies.
Owning a gallery together was a dream the couple has had since they were teens, Shelly said. Their first foray as gallery owners was in 2009, when they opened up shop in the Amy Burnett Gallery Building in Bremerton. In 2012, the Wilkersons moved their business to Bay Street.
In a letter, Shelly wrote that they have loved owning their galleries and strove to “offer a venue where local artists could display and sell their work, and gather for inspiration.” They also enjoyed becoming involved in the Port Orchard Artwalk, Safe Trick or Treat and Ladies Night Out events, she wrote.
But after three and one-half years as business owners on Bay Street, the bloom has faded a bit.
“We are like the fishermen who loved to fish so much, they invested in a bait shop and never fished again,” Shelly said. They’ve missed the creative end of the business, which has taken a back seat to the task of running a business.
A mitigating factor in their decision was, she said, the ongoing disconnect between city government and downtown small-business owners about the future of Bay Street.
“We have watched local advocates of the city try hard to get the City Council to work to make things easier for small businesses by supporting the arts,” she said. Instead, she’s sad to see the downtown “stagnate and die” while two differing plans for revitalization — one tourist-centered and the other involving a growth of downtown condominiums — have clashed.
Because of that conflict, she said, any concrete planning one way or another has stalled.
Shelly hopes the new mayor and City Council will “not allow downtown Port Orchard to pass away quietly until property values sink” for easy acquisition by parties not interested in the city’s future.
After they close their business, she said they won’t stray far. The Wilkersons are planning to join the Ebb Tide Gallery in Gig Harbor as artists this time, not as business operators.Another small business on Bay Street is closing its doors. Crazy Lady Galleries at 724 Bay St., which features an eclectic mix of whimsical gifts and fanciful art, will soon close its business.