Couple fosters art at IBX Artisans’ Center

Published 12:40 am Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bob Henkel, co-owner of Inner Banks Artisans’ Center in Washington, describes the role artists play in his business during an interview Tuesday at the center. (WDN Photo/Jonathan Clayborne)

BizLine is a weekly feature highlighting local businesses serving Washington and Beaufort County. This week’s BizLine covers Inner Banks Artisans’ Center in Washington.

Name of business: Inner Banks Artisans’ Center

Name of owner(s): Robert Henkel and Karen Krupa

Address of business: 158 W. Main St., Washington, N.C.

Telephone number: 252-975-2223

Hours of operation: 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (if live music is offered, until 6 p.m. if it’s not) and from noon until 5 p.m. Sundays.

Date business opened: Nov. 20, 2009

Q: What type of business do you operate — what do you sell, or what service do you provide?

A: “A venue to support the artists in selling their works of art,” said Henkel.

The center features works representing approximately 80 artists.

“We have a waiting list of 30,” Henkel said.

Q: Where are you from originally, and why did you decide to open your business in Beaufort County?

A: Henkel is originally from Santa Barbara, Calif. His wife, Krupa, comes from an Air Force family and attended and taught at East Carolina University, where she retired after 36 years. She has gone back to ECU to teach two nursing classes on a part-time basis and is a consultant to Pitt County Memorial Hospital.

Q: What experience do you have in this field?

A: “I have a business background,” Henkel said. “I’m learning, and the artists help me with their tremendous talent. All I’m trying to do is expose them to the citizenry of North Carolina.”

Q: What sets your business apart from other similar businesses?

A: “First of all, our artists have great pride in what they produce,” he replied. “We have enthusiasm. We present our art in a fantastic manner and that is accomplished by our managing artist, which is Jan Paysour.”

Q: What types of customers do you hope to reach in Beaufort County?

A: “I’d like to see a lot more Washington residents visiting us,” Henkel commented. “We see a lot from New Bern, Greenville, Pitt County, Williamston. Because this is the hub for the Outer Banks, we try and capture the residents east of Washington.”

Q: Why did you choose to open where you did?

A: Henkel said he owned the building that would house IBX. He was trying to figure out what to do with it until he stopped by an artisans’ center in Rocky Mount. The ideas he took away from that experience led to the opening of IBX.

Q: What are your plans for your company’s future?

A: “We’re trying to put together a potting center upstairs,” Henkel said, adding he hopes to install a dance studio on the third floor, provided he can find financing.

Compiled by Jonathan Clayborne.

If you would like to nominate a business for BizLine, email your nomination to or call 252-946-2144, extension 230.