Cathie Anderson: Paint-and-sip trend expanding rapidly across region

The idea of sipping wine and painting art is gaining momentum nationwide, and the competition is getting fierce locally as national chains enter the market and local ones expand.

Boston-based Paint Nite, which organizes social painting events in more than 40 cities, expanded into Sacramento in November. Pinot’s Palette franchisee Delora Marran hopes to open her doors in Elk Grove by summer 2014. The Painted Cork, which launched in Folsom’s historic district in 2011, opened a midtown Sacramento location last June. And, there are plenty of other local contenders vying for business in the paint-and-sip world: Happy Hour Paints, Creative Juices Events and Painted Studios, to name a few.

The trend isn’t all that surprising to fine artist and Sacramento State lecturer Joy Bertinuson, who sees this phenomenon as a continuation of popular art movements of the past.

“Go back to the 1950s, and there was the paint-by-numbers kit craze, maybe from like the ’50s to the ’70s,” Bertinuson said. “You can still go and buy those at the craft stores. They don’t have the same popularity or appeal. ... And then, there was Bob Ross, the painter on television. Even my students, the 19- and 20-somethings, a lot of them had heard of Bob Ross because he had a television show and he was famous for the phrase ‘happy, little trees.’”

The Sacramento region, Bertinuson said, was ripe territory because of such public art walks as 2nd Friday ArtAbout in Davis and Second Saturday in Sacramento. While some companies lease retail spaces, others make deals with restaurants to use tables or spare rooms on slow nights. Scott Patterson at Sacramento’s Hoppy Brewing Co. told me that he sees the painting events as a way to gain exposure and perhaps a few extra sales.

As entrepreneurs start up, they often offer discounted deals at online couponing websites. That has led Creative Juices’ Aimee Rebmann to try to differentiate what she does. She now offers paint-your-pet classes in conjunction with animal welfare groups, she said, and she’s taking a page from Bob Ross. Starting Sunday, she’ll be renting her videotaped guided painting sessions at www.cjarts.net.

Jumping on college prep

Increasingly, parents are tapping educational consultant Jill Yoshikawa and her Creative Marbles Consultancy to begin preparing their children for college as early as eighth grade.

Yoshikawa and her partners Art Baird and Julie Nhung Nguyen founded their business in Sacramento 10 years ago with only two families as clients. Their business has grown by word of mouth to 132 families. They advise students on how to improve study skills, what coursework to take, ways to find scholarships and other financial aid, how to write a college essay and more.

“We’ve been talking to more eighth-grade families in the last two years,” Yoshikawa said. “Our clientele tends to be more on the high-achieving end in high school. They’re taking algebra I or geometry as seventh- and eighth-graders. They’re taking advanced science classes already, so they’re already preparing for college. It’s not unusual any longer, for example, for us to see a high school student who’s had multiple years of calculus before finishing high school. They’re coming in at algebra II as a freshman, which is a pretty advanced math class.”

Yoshikawa said private and public high schools are working harder to spread the word about the colleges that have accepted their students. Parents are comparing notes, she said, and they’re trying to find the right fit for their children. When they hear about Creative Marbles, Yoshikawa said, they’re often surprised that a service like it exists.

Yoshikawa, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, and Harvard University, noted that Creative Marbles charges an hourly rate of $170, but for families willing to do more of the legwork, they offer custom packages to fit a budget. Last year, Creative Marbles sent five students to the CSU system, 12 to UC campuses, seven to private colleges and seven to public universities outside California.

It’s a go for BevMo

The Sacramento Planning and Design Commission approved BevMo’s conditional use permit Thursday evening, so the retailer will be seeking a building permit to begin renovations at 1700 J St. in midtown Sacramento. BevMo sells mainly alcoholic beverages.

“The planning commissioners were very complimentary about our community outreach,” said Greg Endom, the chain’s senior vice president of real estate. “There was nobody who spoke in opposition to the project, and there were no letters or correspondence presented by staff or anyone else that was in opposition.”

In the months leading up to the commission meeting, Endom and other BevMo officials met with a handful of neighborhood and merchant associations to share the company’s operating philosophy.

“We don’t allow minors in the store unless they’re accompanied by a parent or guardian,” he said. “We don’t hire anyone under 21, although we could. We find that that just further removes the peer-pressure element. We make sure that we don’t sell products of abuse, so we don’t have cigarettes. We don’t have malt liquor. We don’t have pornography. … We don’t want to have anything that would be even slightly contribute to a loitering issue. And we have a very sophisticated ID checking system.”