John McDonnell – The Dapper Frog

Their treasures make you smile

The Dapper Frog has come a long way since John McDonnell first launched the business as a website in 2005. Originally from Great Britain and formerly CFO for a multimillion-dollar investment firm, John initially imagined The Dapper Frog as a modest, moderate-to-upscale home decor and collectible retailer. It’s a vision that has slowly morphed over the years as The Dapper Frog now boasts six storefront galleries peppered throughout the Oregon Coast and Portland metro areas which offer thousands of different products–including the art glass sculptures that The Dapper Frog has become known for. With an eye for whimsy and a focus on providing his customers with the best value possible, John has successfully grown his humble website into an eclectic art empire.

What makes The Dapper Frog unique from other galleries?

First of all, everything you see in our gallery, with one minor exception, we’ve already purchased. That’s very different from the model that a lot of galleries use. By doing that, when our artists provide pieces to us, they get paid pretty much immediately. That means we get the best pieces, we get the best service if we need something special, and we get the quickest turnaround on anything that we need– and that’s very important. We build a very strong relationship with our artists, many of whom bring their work back to our galleries each year, including artists like Tim Cotterill, who is probably the most prolific animal bronzist in the world, and artists like Gartner Blade and Ed Branson, both award-winners in the glass area.

We also look for great value and we look to provide a range of price points. You can come into our galleries and buy something for $4 but you could also spend $30,000-$40,000. So there is a wide range of price points.

And then we also provide a vast array of products, whether it’s jewelry, whether it’s glass, whether it’s wall sculptures. With many of the products we bring in, we look to bring in whimsy. In fact, our tagline is “Our treasures make you smile” and they do. People will enter our galleries and we see them smiling and laughing.

Dapper FrogHow do you find artists to showcase?

We acquire our art in three different ways. One, almost every day we have two, maybe three, artists contacting us to carry their work. Obviously we can’t carry everything that’s presented to us, nor would we want to. The second way is that we see other artists’ work in different places and we have the ability to look at their work and acquire it if that’s something the artist wants to do. And then the third avenue is we go to a lot of art shows and we can see what’s going on there as well. But I would say, right now in terms of art, probably 50-60 percent comes directly to us with people coming to us.

Do all the galleries carry similar products or do their offerings vary?

Each gallery has a core of products or items that you can get at any gallery. However, every gallery also has a range of items that are not available in the other galleries. We have people that do what we call the tour- they visit all the galleries because they find something new at each one.

What is the advantage of having so many galleries?

Many galleries advertise that they represent 100 artists, 1,000 artists, whatever it is, and you go to the galleries and they’ve got one piece. We have multiple pieces. For example, for someone like a glass sculptor Ed Branson, we’ve got about 300 pieces of his work. There are no galleries in the world that compare to that. It’s spread across the galleries, but if someone comes in and they’re looking at a tropical bowl, but they wanted a red one, we can get it for them. It gives us a great advantage.

The Dapper Frog has locations in Newport, Gleneden Beach, Pacific City, Dundee and Portland. www.DapperFrog.com.

About The Author: Katie Mitchell