Joan Skimmons admitted that her foray into retail was full of trial and error — with the exception of customer service.
"My corporate career hadn't prepared me for the challenges of bookkeeping, running computer systems and setting up art displays, but I never made mistakes when it came to clients," said Skimmons, senior vice president of sales for a large, local technology company and owner of River's End Gallery. "Our clients always walk out with a smile on their face, knowing they've found a treasure that will help beautify their home. And if it's not the right fit, our free loaner program ensures that they can return it, no questions asked."
Established in Waukesha in 2006, Skimmons opened her second River's End business in Elm Grove last September. Located at Village Court, the 2,000-square-foot gallery features contemporary artwork — such as paintings, ceramics, sculptures and jewelry — from over 150 nationwide artists.
"We're the largest gallery in the region and also the most diversified," Skimmons said. "Our clients tell us we're like a European gallery because of the large variety of art on display; art that can't be seen anywhere else."
That artwork, she added, is continually updated and shuttled between galleries, guaranteeing that regular visitors to River's End will always see new displays.
At prices that range from $10 to $8,000, the gallery carries inventory for every budget. According to Skimmons, though, price point is not the determining factor for purchasing art.
"Visitors to our gallery will always find something they can afford, yet we know that no one has to buy art," Skimmons said. "If a piece of art doesn't speak to someone's soul, they won't buy it no matter how inexpensive it is.
"If we see someone who's interested in a piece of art, we'll explain the process by which it was created and answer that client's questions. Our staff doesn't work on commission, so they never push to make a sale. As artists who've been touched by art, their sole motivation is to help others connect to art."
For more information, visit Riversendgallery.com.
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JUST THE FACTS
Business: River's End Gallery in Elm Grove
Address: Village Court, 890 Elm Grove Road
Phone: (262) 780-1191
Owner: Joan Skimmons
Type of business: art gallery
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