The Kootenay Gallery of Art in Castlegar is in the process of creating a new virtual gift store.
Curator Maggie Shirley said the virtual store is slated to go online in July and will feature up to 300 pottery, jewellery and woodworking items created by West Kootenay artists.
The gallery started the project to help make up for lost revenue since it has been shut down since mid-March due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
The new website will have an accessible layout for everyone, according to Shirley.
“We’ve been categorizing each art piece as we put it onto the virtual store,” she said. “One category will let customers search for different objects on the site while another category will let people search for individual artists.”
The art gallery is setting up a completely new website for the virtual store and will have debit and credit card payment options. Links will also be put on the art gallery’s existing website and social media pages to direct people to the virtual store.
Shirley said the project has been time consuming, especially since it takes staff up to 30 minutes to photograph, weigh, measure and put each object online.
Customers will either be able to pick up their items at the gallery or have them delivered or shipped to their door.
While the items will be able to be shipped across Canada and the United States, Shirley said high shipping costs might deter some customers.
Despite the difficulties, Shirley said there has never been a better time to launch the store.
“This is a really important transition time for us and a lot of local businesses. We really want to survive these difficult times and grow,” said Shirley.
“This is a big risk we’re taking, especially since we don’t know if we’re going to get enough traffic to the virtual store to make it worthwhile. However, this is the future of how people will buy things and it’s a perfect time to get on the bandwagon.”
Shirley hopes the art gallery will be able to open its physical store again in September.