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Retail Roundup: New player in the 'paint and sip' scene

Painting with a Twist, already in Selden, is adding a Baldwin location. The chain is getting a boost from the "retail apocalypse," its co-founder says.

Lindsey Calderone, 26, of Westbury paints during a

Lindsey Calderone, 26, of Westbury paints during a class at Painting with a Twist in Selden Thursday evening. Photo Credit: Danielle Silverman

Paint is popping.

You’ve likely seen or maybe visited a “paint and sip” studio, where groups of customers paint together while getting their drink on.

The biggest player in the industry, Louisiana-based Painting with a Twist, with more than 350 locations nationwide, entered the Long Island market a few months ago.

The company’s first Long Island franchise opened in Selden Plaza at 331 Middle Country Rd. in April. Its second local franchise will open at 855 Merrick Rd. in Baldwin in the first quarter of 2019, said Joanne Bove, who will co-own the studio.

At each studio, an artist stands on a platform in front of customers, giving lighthearted instructions on how to paint their own versions of the painting on display.

At Painting with a Twist in Selden, the fee is $35 for a two-hour class or $45 for a three-hour class. Beer, wine, soda and water are sold separately.

But customers aren’t there to learn how to paint, said Nancy Cohen of Ridge, who co-owns the Selden franchise with her husband, Kevin. Both work full time in the medical field.

“You’re here to have a good time,” said Cohen, whose daughter, Racquel Simpson, 24, manages the studio on weekdays.

Cohen’s inspiration for opening the shop was creating a career path for her son, Craig Simpson, 27, who has hydrocephalus, which is a build-up of fluid within the brain that causes impairment, she said.

“Ultimately, it’s really for my son, so he has a place and something to do,” said Cohen, who said her son is an assistant who helps with inventory, running the bar and other tasks.

Paint and sip studios tend to draw mostly women, and they sell alcohol or allow BYOB.

The outings provide customers with a “digital detox” from cellphones, said Cathy Deano, Painting with a Twist’s co-founder.

On Thursday night, Westbury resident Lindsey Calderone, 26, was among 14 women painting sunflowers on wood pallets in the Selden franchise.

“It’s a different type of girls’ night out. … I like making fun of how bad my painting looks compared to everyone else’s,” said Calderone before taking a sip of Moscato.

Other paint and sip chains have been on Long Island for several years:

  • Pinot’s Palette, with 140 franchises, has two in East Meadow and Bay Shore, which opened in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The East Meadow location is shifting from a mobile studio to a brick-and-mortar location that will open at 2557 Hempstead Tpke. in November, said Doug Van Tassell, development director for the Houston-based chain.
  • North Carolina-based Wine & Design has 86 studios, including two in Rockville Centre and Syosset.
  • Manhattan-based Muse Paintbar, with 30 studios, arrived on Long Island in 2015 and now has four shops here — in Garden City, Great Neck, Port Jefferson and Woodbury.

Deano said she’s not worried about competition as long as it’s good competition. A bad outing will send customers packing to never return to any studio, she said during an August visit to the Selden studio.

Painting with a Twist, founded in 2007, plans to expand to 500 locations within three years, Deano said.

What’s helping with expansion is the so-called “retail apocalypse,” she said.

An unprecedented number of store closings in recent years has led shopping center landlords to seek more tenants that offer customers experiences, such as gyms, restaurants, movie theaters and paint and sip studios. And those tenants have more bargaining power with leases.

“People do want us. We’re different. We’re experiential,” Deano said.


Retail Roundup is a column about major retail news on Long Island — store openings, closings, expansions, acquisitions, etc. — that is published online and in the Monday paper. To read more of these columns, click here. If you have news to share, please send an email to Newsday reporter Tory N. Parrish at tory.parrish@newsday.com.

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