EDITH-ANN MURRAY reckons there’s one secret to selling art materials to artists… always get them what they want. Maleny Art Materials is 21 years old this year and Edith-Ann and Carole have been running the retail outlet for five years. Having weathered the storm of cheap imports the shop is now a part of the Maleny scene.

“Our strength is my experience”, says Edith- Ann. “I first went to art school in 1965, so I have been teaching and working with artists all that time. So, we feel we can provide specifically what the artists up here want. “

Edith-Ann believes there are about 500 locals regularly taking out sketchpads, paintbrushes and easels on the Range, and what they want is good quality art supplies. And quality is something that Edith-Ann has seen decline over the years .

“Pencils that I won’t stock anymore”, she says for example, “ because the leads aren’t in the centre of the pencil. I try to do local as much as I can and I try to avoid China as much as I can. I can’t avoid it with canvases but all of my acrylics and two thirds of my oils are Australian-made”.

“As for brushes, China and India are becoming the dominant manufacturers, and the quality is rising. The first brushes I got from India three years ago the handles were all bent. And the longer I had them in the shop the more bent they became”, she laughs. “That doesn’t happen anymore”.

Edith-Ann has a soft spot for French paper. While she buys Australian papers, the French still make the best paper in the world.

“We also take stock from companies that have a really good environmental credentials, like Faber Castell. They’ve bought up huge tracts of degraded land in South America for example, and have put in plantations for their own pencils as well as planting native species and introducing animals into those plantations. They have a negative footprint in the world.”

Selling art materials primarily for drawing, painting and sculpture is a steady growth business for Edith-Ann. “If you cater carefully for the locals here then there is a future. We give our regulars discounts of course but generally, if we don’t remain smart on our feet then, like a lot of shoppers these days, they will go elsewhere.”