Local painting studio reopens after lengthy closure due to pandemic

RICHLAND, Wash — For Becky Brice, the last time her doors were opened seemed forever ago.

Brice is the owner and founder of The Wet Palette, a painting studio in Richland.

When the pandemic began, Brice decided to close her doors a couple of weeks before the official orders to protect her high-risk staff and customers.

“It was very frustrating at first and I went through all the levels of grieving that you have to go through,” Brice said. “I was a little bit angry and depressed. Then I was like, let’s get to work because I’m an entrepreneur, so let’s do this.”

The Wet Palette also provides a full service food and drink menu but Brice said the paint service is the “bread and butter.”

“We went through all these ups and downs and rollercoasters throughout the year,” Brice said. “Not having these services really took us out at the knees.”

Brice said her business lost somewhere between 80 to 90% of its revenue due to the pandemic and for a bit she thought the closure would be permanent.

“My goal has always been to give people the chance to uncork and create,” Brice said. “That was really hard.”

While the business was able to receive a few local grants Brice said what kept her motivated was her nearly 12,000 customers from over the years.

“Community means so much to us and that’s what it’s about,” Brice said. “We want to give back and we want to serve.”

So while her doors were shut, she decided to create toiletry and food drives with other local organizations “just to do something for the community.”

“It wasn’t about money for me and producing income but rather about supporting everyone,” Brice said, noting that other businesses “had it harder.”

But finally a year later on Thursday, March 18th, Brice was able to host a private painting party session, something that she said was “chaotic and amazing.”

“I feel fortunate we’d been able to survive this long but we came to a point where we had to reopen,” Brice said. “It was awesome to fill this space again with laughter, exuberance and people who were eating, drinking and enjoying themselves.”

Brice added that her main priority is sanitization and safety so painters are required to follow strict cleanliness guidelines.

“Everyone has to be six feet apart even if you’re in the same group. We’re instituting a mask mandate and when you’re actively eating or drinking we can provide you with sanitized face shields,” Brice said.

There is also hand sanitizer at every table and Brice said the studio and all the tools are “thoroughly cleaned” between each visit.

Brice, who started the studio after experiencing postpartum-anxiety, said she hopes art will become therapeutic for others after a traumatic year.

“For a year of not doing your job you wonder if you can ride the bike again. But we got here and we want to help others,” Brice said.

The Wet Palette is currently doing a limited amount of public and private classes. To sign up, click here.