Little Shop of Papers closing in downtown Barrington
Little Shop of Papers has been a symbol of gracious living in Barrington for the past 30 years, with its upscale invitations, snack plates and other items.
But owner Amy Hawking says a shift toward a more casual lifestyle and internet competition has forced her into the difficult decision to close the shop at 118 W. Main St. that her late mother, Jean Stahr, launched in a small space at the nearby Ice House Mall.
Little Shop of Papers is to shut down by month's end unless a buyer surfaces.
"You can design your own (invitation) online," said Hawking, a Barrington Hills resident. "Here's the text. Move the text box. I want this monogram on top.
"And I can do that here, too, and I can help them with the wording and the etiquette and all that. That's the part that they're missing online, is that a store like us is about etiquette, gracious living, things that I think are being pushed aside in the (technology) times that we're living in."
When she started Little Shop of Papers in 1988, Jean Stahr saw a need in Barrington for a shop specializing in upscale custom stationery, gift wrap, cards and high-quality invitations for big dinner gatherings, birthday parties, graduations and weddings.
Little Shop of Papers eventually moved to larger space at the Foundry of Barrington mall on Northwest Highway. Hawking inherited the business after her mother died in 2015.
Hawking then moved to shop to downtown Barrington, where she hoped there would be foot traffic to boost sales.
However, Hawking said, that didn't work out, and now she's trying to clear an inventory that includes elegant snack plates, desk accessories, soaps, candles and kitchen items, along with paper products.
Employee Bev Quinn said Little Shop of Papers has been a friendly, locally owned business that will be missed.
"The store has been here for so long," Quinn said, "and the people who shop here are friends and neighbors."
Hawking, who is married to popular singer-entertainer Ron Hawking, said her original plan was to step away and pass the baton to a new owner.
"My real Christmas wish was for someone to take over that I could mentor (and) train so the legacy of gracious living and what my mom and I started could continue for generations to come," she said.
Aaron Hazard, sales director of the National Stationery Show, said the marketplace for stationery has changed.
"What motivates a particular demographic of the stationery buyer depends largely on their age," Hazard said Wednesday. "Many of our attendees are independent store owners. Changing buyer habits means that the mix and the presentation of the product may change, too.
"At the NSS event held annually in New York, two popular attractions are the seminar program and the trend theater. Both focus on topics, tools and ideas to stay successful in a changing market."