SARASOTA, Fla. - Along south Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, you will find Coastal Flow, a store focusing on home decor and ocean themed furniture. But this is so much more than just a regular home store. The business is the lifeblood for many struggling artists in the Sarasota area.
The pandemic caused the shutdown of all of the local art festivals, and that meant deep cuts financially for local artists. So, a group of them based in Sarasota put their heads together and created a co-op.
“This was literally going to be a warehouse for our surfer tables while we did the festival circuit," explained co-owner Jessica Gill. "When the lockdown came down and they closed all the festivals, we didn’t have a way to pay rent. So, the idea was to reach out to other struggling artists. Everybody came in, pulled together, people donated fixtures. They brought their own bags in. So, everyone is essentially like an independent contractor,” she added.
Gill says it was not planned, but it was like it was meant to be.
Jenni Chase, a local artist, says Coastal Flow is a great outlet for her.
“I like that there is a place for artists to come together and have their work seen and known. It just helps me look like more of a legitimate artist and gives me a home base to work out of,” Chase said.
Gill says the community has been extremely helpful. And although this was not planned, it has been a great experience.
“Although this whole store was unplanned, it has changed my life,” she said.
You can find Coastal Flow at 7216 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, or visit them online at https://coastal-flow.com/.