Geoff Whitmore’s doors have been open for just under a year, but his business, The Walnut Gallery, has already made a profound impact in the Louisville community. Located in the heart of downtown, the gallery displays amazing works from a variety of Colorado artists and prides itself on an “eclectic, diverse selection of handmade, one-of-a-kinds.” The laid-back atmosphere and unique pieces resonate with local residents. This wasn’t the business Geoff envisioned initially, but he’s grateful for how the idea transpired. Here’s how it came about:
Inspiration: Geoff is a die-hard Grateful Dead fan and used to follow the band from city to city while they were on tour. He found a niche with artists creating glass work and began selling their pieces while traveling across the U.S. Years later, his career led him to fine dining – and, quite frankly, he was fed up with working hard to make other people money. When he saw the vacant space for lease on Walnut Street, he decided he wanted to open a glass shop. After years of selling on the road, he was accustomed to working with a limited amount of space. However, when he realized that he now had four walls at his disposal, his vision expanded into what is now The Walnut Gallery.
Benefits: Geoff loves the freedom that comes from working for himself. He’s excited to be part of the revitalization of the Louisville Arts District and it’s apparent that he loves to collaborate with local artists. The gallery is a prime example of the “if you build it, they will come” mantra, as all but one of the featured artists approached him about wanting to get involved .
Challenges: Like many small business owners, Geoff says it’s a struggle initially to spread the word when opening a new business. It’s also challenging to drive sales – though, he operates on the idea that if you’re doing something you love and helping others, the money will eventually follow.
Community Focus: The Walnut Gallery is community-centered in its nature, as it provides individuals the opportunity to display their work and express themselves. The gallery is Colorado-driven and the majority of works displayed are created by local artists. Geoff also supports the community by participating in the First Friday Art Walks. He takes the time to really get to know the artists he works with and their processes, so that he can confidently discuss their artwork with customers.
Advice: Geoff believes that you’ve got to be willing to open yourself up to the universe. In a nutshell: stay positive and take a leap – the people and support you need will come to you.
If you want to support Colorado artists, or could just use a healthy dose of inspiration, visit The Walnut Gallery the next time you find yourself in Louisville. You’ll be amazed at the amount of beauty within those four walls and you’ll likely strike up a conversation with Geoff. Until then, open yourself up to the universe and see what it sends your way.