Andy Sharkey is still happy
she made the switch from
veterinarian to art gallery owner.
STEVE STEIN STAFF WRITER
PHOTO BY GLE NN TRIEST
t's been nearly two years since business," said Ms. Sharkey. "My
Andy Sharkey stopped being a numbers are improving, howev-
veterinarian and opened her own er. My holiday sales were up 100
art gallery in downtown Royal percent from 1992 to 1993 and
my May sales were up 30 percent
Even though the reality of run- from last year."
ning a business has been an eye-
There's a constant reminder of
opening experience, the Ms. Sharkey's former career in
45-year-old mother of two is more her gallery. He's Moose, a 2-year-
determined than ever to turn her old golden retriever mix who
passion into profits. Ms. Sharkey doesn't work nights or weekends
recently signed a two-year re-
newal on her lease.
"Everyone is getting paid but
me. I'm breaking even, which I
guess is about all you can hope
for the first couple years you're in
and is popular with many of Ms.
"People come in just to see
Moose or take him for a walk,"
Ms. Sharkey said. "Sometimes
they're upset when he isn't here."
Ms. Sharkey received quite a
bit of publicity two years ago
when she ended an 11-year ca-
reer and left a secure job as a vet-
erinarian in Royal Oak to open
the Andy Sharkey Gallery. Dur-
ing her last three years as a vet,
she practiced part time and paint-
ed furniture and wall murals part
Back in August of 1992, she
mainly wanted a place to work on
and to sell her furniture. She also
displayed the works of about 10
artists in her gallery. That num-
ber now is well over 100, just
about all from Michigan. Their
works are sold on consignment.
"I try to find pieces you won't
see elsewhere," Ms. Sharkey said
"Many of the artists are in other
professions and a lot are students.
You should see how thrilled they
are when I sell one of their pots!"
As for her own work, Ms.
Sharkey says about 90 percent of
the furniture pieces she paints
now are custom ordered.
Ms. Sharkey says she spent a
couple thousand dollars trans-
forming the former Lotus Imports
shop into her gallery. She also did
a couple of wall murals. Loans
from a friend's mother, an uncle
and another friend helped her get
"Fin going to pay off the loan to
my friend's mom in August, then
my uncle will get those pay-
ments," Ms. Sharkey said. "I
make occasional payments to my
friend, who loaned me less than
the other two people."
An admitted self-taught artist
and businesswoman, Ms.
Sharkey says she's been sur-
prised about "how much you have
to sell to keep going," but pleased
with the number of regular cus-
tomers who walk through her
"I try to have items in all price
ranges," she said. "Everything
from $3 to several hundred dol-
lars, from hand-painted baby
clothes to hand-painted furniture.
I have a lot of items for children,
which I think is my niche."
Ms. Sharkey has made it a
point to get involved in the Roy-
al Oak community. She's a mem-
ber of the board of directors of the
Downtown Royal Oak Associa-
tion, a member of the Royal Oak
Beautification Committee, and a
member of the advisory board of
Steppin' Out, an annual fund-
raising walk for AID S .
Her volunteer work at the
Boys and Girls Club of South
Oakland County includes being
an art instructor, judging an an-
nual art show and contributing
to the organization's fund-raising
From 1-3 p.m. June 26, Ms.
Sharkey will host her fourth chil-
dren's art workshop benefit for
Children's Immune Disorders, an
organization which helps fami-
lies with youngsters who are
HIV-positive or suffering from
For a $5 donation, children can
do sidewalk chalk art in down-
town Royal Oak. Charrette Art
Supplies in Royal Oak is once
again donating all the materials
for the workshop.
"We had about 40-45 kids for
our last workshop in September,
and I'd like to double that num-
ber this time," Ms. Sharkey said.
Two years after she left the
profession, Ms. Sharkey still looks
back fondly on her days as a vet-
erinarian. And she still happily
gives advice or referrals when
"I would never discourage any-
one from being a vet," she said. "I
really enjoyed the academic part
of it, but no one pays you for go-
ing to continuing education sem-
inars all the time. You have to
apply your knowledge.
"I just got bored with the day-
to-day part of the job. The shots,
the spaying, the neutering, check-
ing for heartworm
"I spoke at a lot of career days
when I was a vet and my talk
changed through the years. I en-
couraged students to take class-
es in things which interested
them even if they weren't in their
chosen -field because you never
know what the future will bring."
A Huntington Woods resident
since 1981 when she graduated
from Michigan State University,
Ms. Sharkey has been married
to Joel Schkloven for 22 years.
He is a social worker. They
have a son, Emmett, 20, who at-
tends Wayne State University,
and a daughter, Abby, 10, a sixth-
grader at Burton Elementary
Children who wish to partici-
pate in the sidewalk chalk art
workshop are asked to pre-regis-
ter. The Andy Sharkey Gallery is
located at 204 West Fifth, east of
Washington. The phone number
is 546-6770. ❑