A Year With 52 Small Businesses

There are 7 days left in my Kickstarter campaign and I’m wondering how this story will end. If you happened to have read my last article “What Art Has Taught Me About Life”, you might already be aware of a philanthropic project I did a year ago called 52 Pick Up on Medium. It was started on a whim because I was tired of seeing the same big box stores continue to take over the landscape of every American city I visited. The uniqueness and charm that once made up these individual towns were now becoming a common song with one chord.

With that in mind, I decided to do an original piece of art once a week for a full year then take it to a different small business. Each week I published a post on Medium with the business’ address and a little information about what they do and why I chose them, including an image of the corresponding artwork. Whoever was following the project could go to that business in person and pick up the art for free, I just asked that in return they supported that business in some way, like by buying something or posting about it online to help spread awareness.

“We were so happy to be part of Vincent’s amazing project, ’52 Pick Up’. His piece created quite the buzz and the person who took it home was so excited.” — Diane Campbell, Owner, The Candy Store

The story of this project really connected me with the people behind these small businesses, so I thought a great way to share the experience of the entire year would be to capture it all in a book. I learned a great deal from self-publishing my last book and I want to take this new one to the next level. My plan is to make another limited edition of 1000 museum quality books to celebrate and further benefit these independent shops. This 60+ page hardcover book will highlight all 52 small businesses featured in the project, include some interior design photography of the shops, my experience throughout the year and all the original weekly pieces of art.

My plan after I satisfy all the Kickstarter backer rewards and deliver those books, is to distribute any remaining books amongst all 52 small businesses. They will keep 100% of the proceeds from their book sales.

What I find interesting at this point is how different this fundraising experience has been compared to my last Kickstarter campaign. When I launched my campaign for the Project 365 book, it was funded in 24 hours. I thought I’d share some advice from my past success with Project 365 and thoughts on my potential failure with 52 Pick Up, if my current campaign continues in its current direction, even though Kickstarter has endorsed it as a “Project We Love”.

“Vincent’s article on my business gave me hope that my dream could continue. And it has indeed! I am forever grateful to have been asked to be a part of this and to see what comes from this gentleman. I am watching in awe at all he gives the world with this art and generosity!” — Maura Boland, Owner, Alaskan Premium Seafood

The daily interaction with my online community from Project 365 provided me with instant support. I had contacts for all 365 collectors of my work ready to pitch in and get behind my efforts to get the book made, for which I’m eternally grateful. By including the Project 365 community and having them literally be part of the book itself encouraged engagement for backing the campaign. I didn’t have to seek out bloggers, advertisements or articles to drive traffic. It all came organically from these relationships I had already built over the year.

With 52 Pick Up, the game changed a little. I was not personally interacting with a community of fans following the project so there wasn’t someone specifically to reach out to once I was ready to launch this current campaign. Since I would drop off the art at a small business, I wasn’t able to keep track of who it was that ultimately picked up the art. Some people would get in touch with me to let me know they got one of the drawings, but not all would. There was no protocol in place for tracking where the art went. It wasn’t part of the project to have to know that, it was more about supporting the businesses than where the art ended up this time around.

“Green Apple Books was honored to be a part of Vincent’s 52 Pick Up project. Any marriage of art and locally owned independent business is AOK in our book!” — Pete Mulvihill, owner, Green Apple Books

Maybe it’s partly because of this different way I went about 52 Pick Up that the Kickstarter campaign needs some more help and “traffic love”. In hindsight, I now know that I likely would have benefited from connecting with more local publications, media outlets, writers, bloggers, etc., well in advance of the launch of my campaign to give it an extra boost. I didn’t want to buy advertisement space or hire 3rd party marketers because in a way it would have been contradictory to the concept of 52 Pick Up. Trying to make this campaign work on its own made me empathize even more with these small shops who are trying to get the word out about what they do — it’s not easy.

I want to thank and give recognition to all of the small business that were a part of 52 Pick Up. Your courage and perseverance to set out on a journey and follow your dreams is both infectious and inspiring. I hope to see this book project through to fruition to commemorate this experience we shared together. Ten more days, fingers crossed!

“As a long-time admirer of Vincent Serritella’s work, having our store chosen for 52 Pick Up was such a wonderful surprise. Just the idea of one of our customers contacting him about us was amazing, but being able to facilitate someone receiving one of his beautiful little pieces was even better. Vincent has given not only to the recipients of his pieces, but also the independent businesses he featured in the project. For stores like ours in small-town America, being put into the spotlight on a national level provides such a great opportunity. We are so, so grateful.” — Paige Davidson, Owner, Cahoots Handbags

Again, If this campaign is successful and the goal is met, my plan is to take any remaining books after shipping them to Kickstarter backers and distribute them amongst the shops below:

826 ValenciaPoverty & the ArtsTibon’s Goju-Ryu Fighting Arts Karate082010cahoots handbagsSchmancySound SpiritsIron Oxide Art SuppliesCentral FeaturesAlishan OrganicsStarry EyesencuentroMolding Plastic Corp.ReFindAlaskan Premium SeafoodsInhabitectHeartfeltEsqueletoGlaser DesignsAmpersandMercy vintage nowCheese PlusMaison d’EtreBooks & BooksHollowCactus JungleCafe RenzoAsmbly HallSocola ChocolatierCastle In The AirDSF Clothing Co.Green Apple BooksBeachside Coffee Bar + KitchenLucinda’sTantrumChocolate CoveredPaul’s Hat WorksRickshaw BagworksRare DeviceUrban BazaarThe Candy StoreTigerlilyLove & LuxeBaia PastaGood StockWeathered NestHuckleberry BicyclesDavid JamesMill Valley FlowersWood ThumbLocal TakePerch

If you’re interested in supporting the project, again for which I will be eternally grateful, you can find it here: 52 Pick Up: An Art + Small Business Book

If you can’t financially support the project, please share and help spread the word. There are at least 52 small businesses and 1 artist that will thank you for it! :)

Prototype for 52 Pick Up Book

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