One of the first things patrons at Loulou Belle art and vintage goods shop in downtown Homewood might notice first is the floor.
It looks at a glance like an expensive textured surface. It’s not.
It is refinished plywood, and as Loulou Belle’s proprietors, Dodi Wians and Lisa Komorowski, describe it, the floor is emblematic of the store’s mission: It’s not just what they have; it’s what they do that matters most.
The new store’s decor, including the floor, was created by Wians, Komorowski and members of their families, usually with found items. For example, the front of the check-out counter is an old door. There are wall hangings made from old chairs. The workshop table in the back of the store was built from two-by-four lumber they obtained by tearing out walls to open up space in the store.
“We’re going to share everything we’ve done,” Wians said. “It’s going to be an event-based store. You can come in, hang out, talk to artists and find out what they do.”
The store will sell artistically restored, refinished or repurposed vintage items and furniture, and the artists collaborating with Wians and Komorowski will also put on regular workshops, demonstrations and trunk shows to help others learn how to create new things from cast-off or worn out goods.
There will be new items, too, including fair-trade goods. In fact, the display strategy involves finding ways to mix the old and the new.
“We hope we’ll be the place to go to get something really cool,” Komorowski said.
The two said they hope to fill their own niche and not duplicate what other craft-oriented local stores provide.
Brief artists’ biographies will be on display, too, so patrons will have a chance to get to know the people creating the works.
The store will also periodically feature artwork by local students. The purpose is not just to give exposure to students’ work but to help young artists learn how to merchandise and market their work, Wians said.
The first featured student artist will be Homewood-Flossmoor High School student Lucy Sloan. There will be an opening reception for her work on Feb. 26.
The grand opening weekend for the store at 2049 Ridge Road in Homewood will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, and continue Saturday, Feb. 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 21, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Patrons will receive a free gift with purchases, and they will have an opportunity to enter to win a $50 store gift certificate.
The store could be the village’s second recent pop-up shop success story, following the opening last year of UpsaDaisy Boutique on Martin Avenue, which also started out as a pop-up. One purpose of pop-up shops is to give vendors a chance to test the waters for their products and, ideally, open a permanent store.
Wians and Komorowski are both pop-up shop veterans and have worked together before. They participated in the village-sponsored pop-up shop programs in 2013 and 2014 and more recently operated an independent pop-up shop, Wink & Belle, at their current location this past holiday season.
The name LouLou Belle is a combination of their previous shops: Wians’ Wink & Belle and Komorowski’s Lo Lou Lou.
“We’re happy to be in Homewood,” Wians said. “We love the support the town gives. We want to stay.”
Wink & Belle: Independent pop-up shop brings together creativity, community (HF Chronice, Nov. 3, 2015)