This is McCormick's first store, but she has some strong ideas. Unscented candles only: "Some people have allergies. And also, if you're having a dinner party why would you want the candles to overwhelm the scent of your food?" (She actually has some diminutive pear-scented, pear-shaped candles--as you'd almost have to in a shop named after pears--but they're wrapped so you can't smell them.) No Vera Bradley purses: "I wanted to stay away from the gift shop cliche." Instead, she carries similar wildly floral, but pricier, Amy Butler bags. "I like these much better. They're of a beautiful quality." She doesn't want to devote too much space to baby clothes, but recognizing that baby showers are practically the raison d'etre of gift shops, she carries a respectable selection of Bibi and Mimi socks and leather booties.
She expects the shop to serve the classic gift shop demographic of "nearly all women, usually forties and up. But we have a lot of teenagers around here too," so in addition to serious grown-up jewelry, she has some fun and funky pieces as well.
McCormick, who has a degree in philosophy from the University of London and has worked as everything from legal secretary to fundraiser for Greenpeace, says she didn't really know how to operate a gift shop, but dove right in. In April she "went to the Chicago trade show"--the Chicago Market for Gift & Home--and "picked out the vendors I liked," giving some preference to local or regional artists. She had the former Allstate Insurance office, with its aggressively maize-and-blue-themed paint job, done over in bright ivories and pale lemon, and opened on June 1.