I am surely not alone in my sadness, hearing of Pearl Paint closing it's legendary Canal Street flagship store. It played an important role in my years at Parsons in New York City. Without having Pearl Paint so easily accessible and so fully stocked with every conceivable art supply known to man, I would have been up a tree. Along with every other art school student and artist in New York.
The beauty of Pearl was not just having the right tools made available to you, it was that the staff actually knew what they were talking about. They were artists themselves and offered real tried and true advice. This can not be understated. Most stores, of any kind or another, are not often staffed by individuals who know their product firsthand. They may be told the highlights and given the right terms to secure a sale, but without firsthand knowledge a salesperson is just doling out empty words. For students especially, it is invaluable to receive sound advice from a person who has stood in their shoes and knows the finer points of products and tools from experience.
While my days of perusing the aisles of paint, brushes, canvas, watercolor paper, and such had become far fewer in recent years, I feel a sense of loss for the next generation of artists and students who will not have Pearl Paint as a resource for their tools of the trade (whichever trade that may be).