As a child, I remember the joy I would feel from my mother telling me that, after school, we would be going to Flax’s Art & Design for school supplies. The many rows of colored pencils and intricate art tools mesmerized me for hours while my mother sought out the products we actually needed. The iconic Flax location on Market street reserved fond memories for me and upon walking into Flax’s newest location in Fort Mason, the same thrill filled my heart.
“We’ve always played a central part in the arts community in San Francisco.”Howard Flax tells me.
Howard is the current owner of Flax and grandson of its founder, Herman Flax. After losing most of what they owned In the Great Depression, Herman and Sylvia Flax decided to move out west from New Jersey. In 1938 with $100, they opened a small art supply store in downtown San Francisco. Flax’s Artist Materials grew to support local artists with its breadth in materials and its ability to inspire creativity. Now, Howard Flax has continued to grow Flax by launching a website and opening a new store in Fort Mason.
“I think the hardest time Flax went through during my ownership was the move.” Howard explains. He is referring to when Flax had to move their flagship store from Market st in downtown San Francisco to Oakland in 2016. Not only had Flax occupied that location for 38 years but the store had a strong connection to dialed in neighboring customers. Little by little, Flax has built back their customer loyalty in Oakland and at their location in Fort Mason. “This year has actually been pretty good for us. Our website has been a real lifeline.” Howard explains. He goes on to tell me that because folks are at home a lot more this year, art projects and creativity are increasingly at the forefront of their minds. What better play to support that creativity than at Flax!
Visit Flax’s Art & Design at Fort Mason, in Downtown Oakland or online for all your art supply needs and support this iconic bay area business!