One Strange Bird, located in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, is one part gift retail shop and one part art class, all wrapped up into a deliciously inspiring shopping and artistic experience.
Gifts and Accessories
For those seeking a gift, One Strange Bird offers a range of handmade jewelry, including owner Nicole Northway's own line of earrings and necklaces, Lady Bird.
Lady Bird is the owner's own line of handmade jewelry, available at One Strange Bird — Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes
Prettily packaged scented candles and hand creams in gift sets make it easy to pick up for almost anyone’s birthday or special occasion. Personal accessories including tote and cosmetic bags are merchandised sporadically throughout the carefully designed shop.
A decent selection of kids’ gifts line one wall, although the options are skewed toward the younger set. A small selection of antique finds are lined up at a nearby table, seemingly forgotten until you stumble upon the offerings.
Arts and craft supplies conveniently round out the store’s merchandise.
Displays, at first glance, may not seem repurposed or recycled because Northway’s keen eye makes guests focus on the products first. Upon pausing to take in the selections, one begins to notice a cross stitch frame is used to hang necklaces while an old wooden frame makes earrings a focal point.
Focus on Local Art
The owner of One Strange Bird, an artist by trade, created her space as a place where anyone – whether artistically inclined or not – could come and find gifts, jewelry and accessories made by local artists.
One Strange Bird offers a range of gifts, jewelry and personal accessories — Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes
Northway is often in the shop and makes it a point to share stories of the artisans behind the products when customers inquire or seem interested in learning more. She’s all too happy to explain the history of one line of journals and cosmetic bags that have been decoupaged.
Many of her customers support the shop because it carries so many Chicago artists. She’s constantly on the hunt for new artists to carry in her store and, in fact, to support local artists was one of the reasons she opened the shop in the first place, she says.
Classes for Adults and Kids
For those wanting to channel their artistic side, a full range of painting, print making, craft and jewelry making classes are available for both adults and children.
Nicole Northway offers arts and crafts classes to adults and kids at One Strange Bird — Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes
Adults have the option of bringing their own drinks to the class, which can either help or hinder their creative capabilities, but that’s a different story.
Week-long camps are available for children through the summer months or whenever Chicago Public Schools is out during the school year.
Family days allows the whole family to get involved and include options such as making terrariums, painting or a family collage.
More than a Gift Shop
One Strange Bird may seem like a gift shop at first glance, and it is. But it’s so much more. In addition to offering classes, it’s a rare shop in Chicago where you can drop in and grab a gift or choose to pull up a chair, escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and make something with your hands for two hours.
That’s a priceless gift that Northway gives Chicagoans.