This month’s interview is with one of my favorite retail business owners, Lori Amway.  Enjoy!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  Where are you from?  What’s your background in Art and Art Supplies?

I was born and raised in West Chester, PA. I never really had any desire to attend college after graduating high school, it was just not my thing. Fast-forward a few years, it dawned on me that I never really learned well in a classroom environment. I was much better at learning on the job or task. My parents never forced me to go to school but made it clear that if I was not going to school, then I must have a job. My Mom gave me until September of the year I graduated to find a job. I put several applications in to places and the first to call me back was an office supply company, which had just added art supplies as a category they we selling. 

I started out as a stock person putting out products and pricing them. I quickly moved my way up and eventually became the buyer for the company. I was still mostly involved with purchasing only the office supply side as the art department manager handled the buying of the art supplies. When I could I would always talk with the manager of the art department, to find out where items came from. I learned the cost of the items and where to find the best deals. 

I stayed with the company for 5 years doing purchasing and merchandising of the store. I had a great mentor who taught me how to lay the store out, build shelving, what items should go on end caps, the importance of signage and making sure the store is clearly labeled so customers understand prices. 

I then moved on to another office supply company also doing the buying of office supplies. This was a great move for me personally and professionally. I grew a lot during my time with this new company, I learned more personal skills and gained contacts that still help me today. All along I was missing the retail part I had at the old company. I really loved putting the store together, moving items, and making displays for sales. 

One day the owner of my old company called me and asked me to come back. Their store was suffering and they needed help getting the store back in shape. I accepted their offer and that lead to another 19 years with them.  I was the store manager, merchandise manager, buyer, backup to the computer person and whatever else needed to be done. During this time is when I really got evolved with the art supplies. As a kid drawing was my escape, I would spend hours drawing, so now I have every art supply there is at my fingertips.

Do you have people who inspired you to go into business for yourself?  In what way?

There have been a few people in my life that I have looked up to that had their own businesses. My Brother had his own heating and air conditioning business. I have a very good friend who had her own business for a long time. To be completely honest I never really wanted to have my own business.  I understood the personal sacrifices that you would have to give every day to keep the business going. 

As I worked for my former employer I watched and saw the impact that their family owned business had on the community. I was so very lucky to have a great relationship with the family and was able to work side by side with the 2nd generation owner of the company. His Father started the company in 1915. I started in 1987. He and I would have great talks each day and I saw the passion he had for the business and the customers who came to his store. So I think the biggest inspiration to start my own business (when I became ready) was my former employer. When I left them, they were on their 4th Generation ownership and they were celebrating their 100th Anniversary. I wanted to have a business like that, one where the community comes to you because they know you will have what they need, or try to find it if you didn’t.

You do a lot for the Art community including selling art supplies, making quality prints and running art classes.  What is your favorite thing about working with artists and art suppliers?  I imagine getting to see and try the latest art supplies must be really fun.

We work with a lot of local artists here in our area, some are well known and have art shows in New York and Miami and others are not as well known but are amazing artists as well. Some of our customers just started their art career or just got back to it when we opened. We have been able to watch them grow as artists and that’s so much fun to watch. Having all of the art supplies at our finger tips is great! Especially if we have a customer struggling with something and a new product comes out, we can suggest the item to help them. Sometimes we get samples and we are able to have them try it without having to put out extra money. We also get to try things so when customers ask about a product we can offer some of our personal experience or the experience another customer had with a product. We ask customers many times to show us what they are doing with all of the products they buy and it is so great when they share, some bring the art into the store and others tag us on social media. It just gives you a great feeling to know you are helping someone make themselves happy and successful with their art. We try to work closely with our vendors and support them with product demos in the store. We have serval demos a year and they are all free events.

I know you are very busy with your business.  Do you get any time to do art for yourself?

I have very little time to work on my own art. I so loved to draw when I was a kid. I would love to get some time one day to get back to it. There are so many things I want to try!

In the last 10 years or so I have gotten into photography and that has been a great hobby, I have made some of my photos into greeting cards and we sell them at our store.

What part of your business do you enjoy most?

My favorite part is still the retail store. I love creating displays or re-merchandising a section for when we get new items in. To me, it is like a huge jigsaw puzzle.

Do you have favorite art products you wouldn’t mind sharing?  And, what makes them special?

Posca markers are pretty neat items.  They are an acrylic based paint marker that comes in several point sizes. The markers work on over 25 different surfaces. They work on wood, pottery, glass, paper, and can be used on clothing as well. They gained a lot of popularity in California with the skate borders. They would use the markers to decorate their boards.

Where are you located?  What made you decide to have a store there?

We are located at 739 West Cypress St. Kennett Square, PA. We chose this location because it is the former location of our old employers store. They were in Kennett Square from 1985-2015 when they decided to close that location. My business partner Rhonda was the store manager at this location from 2000-2015. We both knew that Kennett Square needed a store like ours. We really wanted the old store location mostly because it has great parking, which is a premium, and we would be in a familiar location for customers to come back to.

Do you have advice for other business owners who might be thinking of following in your footsteps?

My biggest advice to anyone starting a business like ours or any other business, you must understand you won’t have success overnight. You need to be patient and work really hard.

There is a lot of competition out there so make sure you know what your customers are looking for, offer a great product range, and give great customer service. In a world of same-day delivery and instant gratification people still want personal service.

Where can someone get art supplies and make use of all the services you offer at Kennett Copy and More?  Are you on Social Media?

We offer art supplies, office supplies and a full copy service center. We only have one location and we have a website At the moment we are only set up on our website for pickup in our retail store. We have hopes to enhance our website in the near future. We will ship out products to customers via the US Mail.

We are on Facebook

and we are also on Instagram


Thank you Lori for taking the time to “chat.”