Tuesday, January 24, 2017

PULP Gallery says goodbye to Charleston this Saturday

Priced out

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 3:54 PM

click to enlarge Will Eiseman is moving PULP to Atlanta for cheaper rent. - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Will Eiseman is moving PULP to Atlanta for cheaper rent.
We knew the end had to come sometime. When City Paper first interviewed Will Eiseman, the owner of PULP Gallery & Bookstore, he told us that he'd gotten a sweet deal on a lease for the 3,000 sq. foot space on Upper King, but that he knew he may have to relocate (or re-sign) eventually. And so the day has come. PULP closes its doors this Sat. Jan. 28 at 5 p.m. Eiseman is moving to Atlanta, where he's found a smaller and cheaper space.

"It's the end of retail on Upper King," Eiseman says. "In order to survive I need the tourist traffic — they're responsible for 80 percent of sales. King Street is simply not affordable for small retail."

With some buildings on Upper King being leased for as much as $23,000 a month, Eiseman says that he has seen a number of other renters struggle with the same problems he's had.

PULP, which served as an art gallery, film screening spot, and bookstore, held over 50 events in its year at 535 King St. The gallery was always filled with provocative material — the first exhibit there was called, The X Show: Art & Photographs for Grown-Ups, to give you an idea. And the films Eiseman screened were vintage and rare, from Hud to Choose Me.

"I never got more than 10 people for movies," says Eiseman, who admits he's not sure what the reason for low local traffic may be. "The tourists love it — the locals would come in every four or five months.The future is restaurants and bars," he adds.

While Eiseman says that people could pack it in at PULP — lots of people would drop by after dinners downtown, between the hours of 8-10 p.m. — for the most part, he didn't get enough traffic in the off-season to feasibly keep the space open.

"In most cities if you want to know what the next area to undergo gentrification will be, just look at where the newer galleries have opened," says Eiseman. "If Charleston had a larger population, moving PULP further up King, like Redux, or even to West Ashley or Park Circle might be feasible — but without tourists there is no way for a space like this to survive."

"I'm just a bit of a rebel," says Eiseman. "I like the question of what art is, the non-traditional. It's been a lot of fun being here. Hopefully I have sparked someone's imagination and they will pick up where I have left off."

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