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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

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Art Smart's finds new niche


Since 1985, Art Smart's Dart Mart has colorfully claimed the corner of Brady and Humboldt. Many shops have come and gone on the street that, for a while, suffered an identity crisis, but Art Smart's somehow rolled with it all and survived.

"We try to keep the Brady Street bohemian feel going," says shop employee Chuck Pins, referring to the street's transition from '80s gritty hippie to '90s yuppie chi-chi.

Best known as a dart mart and juggling emporium, Art Smart's offers an array of darts, dartboards and a wide selection of juggling supplies. These days, people aren't just juggling balls and oranges, rather fiery torches, long scarves or big knives, all of which are available at the East Side shop.

However, in the past few years, the shop found another niche, this time, in the world of disc golf. Art Smart's sells everything a disc golfer could possibly desire, including the discs, targets, bags, rule books and course directories for the popular sport.

The sport requires different discs for different shots, just like golf clubs. These colorful discs of different sizes and functions are stacked throughout the store, adding to the already colorful and crowded environment.

A number of Milwaukee parks offer disc golf, including Dretzka Park and Valley View.

Store owner James Boland has been a dart player for years, and decided to open a dart supply shop after buying out a friend's inventory. He later moved into the juggling realm after another friend bought a resort and as a gimmick taught his visitors, including Boland, how to juggle. And finally, another friend who was a kiting enthusiast suggested to Boland that he sell kites, too.

"It sounded like a good idea to me," says Boland. "Darts, kites and juggling are all things that fly."

Gag gifts are also big here. The quirky corner shop offers a great selection of squirting flowers, invisible ink, garlic candies, clacking teeth, Amish punching puppets, stuffed armadillos, toilet seat key chains, fake old food and a bevy of other tricks and trinkets that would've gotten you kicked right out of the sixth grade.

"The great thing about this place is that it's filled with stuff people don't need," says Pins. "So people come in here not because they have to, but just to have fun."

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