Lunchtime Tourist

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December 15, 2003 // UPDATED 11:09 am - April 30, 2007
By: Kinda Koutsky
Kinda Koutsky

Penco Artists' Supply Warehouse

Alternative shopping destination (4 of 4) 718 Washington Ave. N.

They say Minneapolis has more artists per capita than anywhere other than New York City. If that's the case, you've probably got one on your gift list (or, at least, a "budding" artist).

Penco has been a Warehouse District fixture since 1990. Though they had humble beginnings selling pens from a basement on Lake Street in South Minneapolis, the company has grown, along with their many clients in the advertising and design business.

Today, Penco not only has a jam-packed storefront, they also have a large, national Internet presence. In fact, at artsuppliesonline.com you can have Penco find a perfect gift by filling out your artistic relative or friend's interest, skill level and the amount you want to spend. Presto -- a paint-by-number cat painting! . . . or maybe a set of oil paints, or an oversized oak easel. You can fill your online shopping cart anytime and pick up your packages at the store the next day.

Brothers Fred and Conrad Segal who own Penco, maintain their company's original mission to be an art supply discounter. Prices here are often well below retail. That goes for the inexpensive Pentel Sign Pen favored by Charles Schultz to the newly hip, multifunctional Cross pens in a display case in the back room. These futuristic pens have shed their stodgy reputation and include a bonus PDA stylus. The Vice pen has three different pen nibs and folds in half to fit in a pocket ($19.99, regularly $25).

Penco's Kolo products store-within-a-store has the largest selection of colorful photo albums and boxes in the upper Midwest. If that's not enough to inspire you, they have how-to books, tons of portfolios, lots of kids' art supplies and project kits, and even a clearance rack. And what would a true discounter be without free parking? Look for their spots in the lot across the street. Happy hunting.

Penco is open weekdays, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (Wednesday nights until 6:30) and Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Call store for extended holiday hours, 333-3330.

LUNCH TIP: If you spent your whole lunch hour at Penco, pick up a sandwich to go at McGee's Deli at 800 Washington Ave. N.

Send your tips to thelunchtimetourist@hotmail.com.