Three years after opening a spacious and wildly successful art gallery on Deadwood’s fabled Main Street, celebrated painter Scott Jacobs and his wife of 34 years are branching out, doubling down on the gambling town, and breathing new life into two historic buildings they recently acquired.
After a year of major renovations that replaced a vacant building that had been boarded up for six years, the Jacobs opened their gallery at 670 Main St. in 2016, featuring a collection of vintage motorcycles, a wide range of artwork, tin signs, home décor, gifts and apparel.
After spending nearly four decades operating galleries in New Jersey, the comforting climate of Southern California attracted Jacobs and his wife, Sharon, in 1996. But after working his first Sturgis motorcycle rally in 1994, the couple fell in love with the Black Hills and eventually made their move. Soon after, daughters Alexa and Olivia, as well as a nephew, Todd, joined their team, leading to a family affair.
This fall, the Jacobs family finds themselves immersed in renovating another of Deadwood’s historic buildings — an 1895 structure at 79 Sherman St., right across the road from the Lawrence County Courthouse. Formerly the longtime site of ABC Business Supply, by next spring it will re-open as the Jacobs Brewhouse and Grocer.
In mid-September, Jacobs purchased another building just two doors down from the planned Brewhouse and he is contemplating the best use for the newly acquired property.
With a gallery, two new properties, a host of upcoming international travel, and 40 in-progress paintings awaiting his attention in his studio above his Main Street gallery, we sat down with Jacobs recently to ask about his plans.
Q: You obviously don’t have much going on these days. Just what are you trying to achieve in Deadwood?
A: The gallery is a true family business, just as the new Brewhouse will be. The important part of that is, if our customers come to the Jacobs Gallery and have a good experience, they will go to the Brewhouse and have the same type of experience. The thing we hear from clients and customers is they love the family business, because there is so little of that around the world anymore. In my travels, I seek out the mom and pop businesses because you get that type of experience — that there’s more than a job at stake and for us, it’s about a legacy here in town.
It’s about supporting local businesses. That’s important. When you’re in a big-box store, you’re helping the CEO buy a bigger jet. But here, you’re maybe paying for a wedding or a nephew to start a college fund. The more successful we are here, the more we’ll do. We’re more interested in helping the jewelry maker from Whitewood, the leather goods manufacturer on Nemo Road, and the cigar-box guitar maker from Spearfish.
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Q: You bought the ABC Business Supply building in June, and crews have been at work ever since. Tell us about that enterprise.
A: Well, it looks as if we’ll be investing about $1.2 million in it, because I keep forgetting things. In my opinion, it’s going to be a real jewel for this community. It will look like a pub in Ireland or London. We expect to be open in March or April, but I don’t want to open it before it’s time. This business will stand out. When our guests walk through the front door, which will be 10 feet tall, I think they will say, “Wow.” That is our goal. The first thing they’ll see at the right is a 125-year-old handmade manual elevator that was in the building and stands 15 feet tall. A wine cellar will be attached to its bottom. You won’t even know it’s there until you order a bottle of wine. Our mezzanine will seat approximately 35 people, and it will have a private VIP party room. It will have so many unique features, I don’t know where to start.
Q: Just last Friday, you bought another building at 83 Sherman St., the site of a former arcade. What’s the plan for that property?
A: Right now, it’s a very expensive storage unit (laughs). But we thought it would be a good place to stage for the Brewhouse. It’s just 30 feet away. It will help us keep the work environment very, very clear. If I had to decide right now, I would say it could become a bakery. We’re not sure that would be successful or not, but in my travels all over the world, if you see a business model that is working in Japan or Barcelona or Madrid, it probably would work in Deadwood, because it’s working in other tourist destinations around the globe. A bakery could supply the Brewhouse with its breads and signature desserts, and then we might try wholesale accounts to regional restaurants. I like to think big.
Q: Speaking of international travel, you do quite a lot of it. Tell us about your upcoming trips.
A: They’re all art-related. They’re called VIP events, in which clients who are active art collectors participate from all over the world. They’re invited by publishers to attend and they try to find 40 couples from around the world who are high-tier art collectors. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and they’ll do $3 million to $5 million in sales in a weekend, with just with 35 or 40 couples. In coming months, I’ll be visiting Rome, Montenegro, Croatia, Greece, London, Jerusalem, Serbia, Russia, New Zealand, Australia, Shanghai, Buenos Ares, and Columbia. It’s awesome because of the worldwide exposure I’ve been getting. I just sold a $32,000 painting to a man from Kenya. My highest price original painting sold for $250,000. I never thought I’d see that in my lifetime.
Q: Where does this all lead for you and your family? In gaming parlance, are you doubling down on Deadwood?
A: Definitely. I believe in Deadwood. I feel an increase in tourists over the past four years. I mean, I really had no plan for that new building. But my wife has an amazing vision for business. Not just how to run them, but how to decorate the place, how to develop a menu, how to make a high-end gourmet food section with cheeses and fine olive oils that I haven’t seen elsewhere in the region. And, if we didn’t have the support of the family, because I paint full-time, we wouldn’t be able to do this. I feel it’s like Field of Dreams — if you build it, they will come. I want to help elevate the perception of Deadwood, that it’s not just casinos and bars. It’s so much more than that. And, when folks step into our businesses, we want people to think they’re home. Frankly, I really don’t know where it all ends. But, it’s all so exciting.