A new boutique hopes to bring cheer and creativity to Oak Park’s Hemingway District. Festive Collective, 159 S. Oak Park Ave., is not the average party supply and stationery store. Utterly devoid of the gauche associated with such retailers, Festive Collective immerses shoppers in a vibrant welcoming atmosphere while offering a curated array of modern but nostalgic products.
“We really try to source artists from all over the world who work in really bright colors and just have an optimistic outlook,” said founder Angela Wator, herself a designer.
Festive Collective sells more than plates, streamers and tissue garlands – although its stock of party décor is extensive and stylish, the boutique touts an extensive collection of greeting cards, gifts, art and jewelry, as well as vintage-style office supplies. Wator’s clothing line is also available for purchase at Festive Collective.
Opening this Saturday, the boutique is ready to welcome customers. Those who visit the boutique this weekend between the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. will get a real neighborhood welcome. Festive Collective is collaborating with Brewpoint Coffee to develop a special drink to mark the opening. The neighbors have not finalized the details of the beverage quite yet, but Wator promises it will evoke the spirit of Festive Collective.
“It’s going to be some sort of pink latte,” she said.
The fun doesn’t stop there. Shoppers will also be treated to individually packaged treats made by Broken Tart Cakes. The baker behind Broken Tart Cakes recently moved to Oak Park, according to Wator, who also lives in Oak Park.
The bakery and boutique have previously worked together for events at Festive Collective’s first location in Logan Square, which has been open for five years. Wator will be splitting her time between the two shops.
She chose to open her second location in Oak Park because it reminded her of the Logan Square community. She lived right around the corner from the first Festive Collective. Now she lives about a four-minute walk from the Oak Park location.
“I just love this area,” Wator told Wednesday Journal. “When I’m out walking around and talking to people in the neighborhood, they all seem like the same people who lived in Logan Square.”
Wator has been a resident of Oak Park for two years now and feels right at home. From the village’s young families to its creative community, she believes the people who live in Oak Park share the same appreciation for whimsy and art as that of her Logan Square customer base.
“I wanted to give something back to my new neighborhood,” she said.
She even chose the Oak Park Avenue storefront because it felt familiar. After having trouble finding the perfect spot, Wator was waiting for coffee when she noticed the rental sign hanging outside of 159 S. Oak Park Ave.
“I just signed the lease the next day,” Wator said.
The Oak Park location has a lot of the same vintage elements as the Logan Square store, according to Wator, including creaky floors. So much of Festive Collective’s charm and character comes from its storefronts, she believes.
“A lot of retail spaces that are available are just kind of like white boxes and new buildings,” she said.
Oak Park’s Festive Collective is anything but a white box. Chris Uphues, Berwyn artist and brother of Growing Community Media editor Bob Uphues, painted a colorful large mural on one of the space’s interior walls. With its rainbows, flowers, hearts and mushrooms, the mural is cheerful without being garish. Festive Collective is selling merchandise created by Uphues.
Even the store’s display cases have been built by artists, which can make it difficult at times to determine what is and is not for sale. Syd Veverka, who used to work at the Logan Square shop, is hand tufting a rug for the shop, as well as making a papier-mâché mirror for the fitting room. As with Uphues, some of Veverka’s work will be available for sale at Festive Collective.
Despite the economic travesties of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wator wasn’t deterred from opening a second location. Rather, she was emboldened from the support of her loyal customers who kept Festive Collective afloat through online sales. At the time of its physical reopening, Wator remembers having lines out the door to maintain capacity limits.
She believes that Festive Collective shined a little light into an otherwise miserable period for the world, reminding people that there’s still a reason to smile even if it can’t be seen behind a mask.
“As a retail space, we obviously can’t fix everything,” she concedes.
Wator noted how just taking the time to get dressed and going outside can raise spirits just a little.
“Once you start doing things like that, and taking the time to cheer yourself up, even just a little bit, it can slowly change your entire attitude. And I think that’s what has been drawing people to our store throughout this year.”