Even the coronavirus pandemic cannot stop the evolution of Urban Matter.
Fans of the beloved home and gift boutique can now visit its new shop dog – a precocious puppy named Pickle – who will guide them through a wider selection of home décor, furniture by Gust Modern and Collin Garrity, women’s wear and accessories, children’s clothing, and creative toys and books at not one – but two – shop locations in St. Louis’ South Grand business district.
Owners Mary Hennesy and Amy Schafer moved Urban Matter to 3179 S. Grand Blvd. in July of 2019 and once again have doubled its footprint with another shop space two doors down at 3189 S. Grand Blvd. in January. The creative duo also recently grew its friendly staff with four new members and precious pup, Pickle – all of whom have “brought new life into the business,” Hennesy says. “Even though things have changed [amid the pandemic], we’re still growing and evolving our space.”
Like many local businesses, the COVID-19 quarantine shuttered Urban Matter for four months this spring and summer – but window-shoppers continued to order homey décor and gifts that caught their eye in the store’s large corner display window at South Grand and Connecticut Street via Instagram (@urbanmatterstl). Now its dual spaces have gradually extended business hours and are currently open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, as well as by appointment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The quarantine also allowed time for Urban Matter to build out its new shop. Hennesy and Schafer collaborated again with Tim Bliss of Architectural Bliss, the man behind their original South Grand location. The team carried the airy, bright design of that space to the store’s new addition by incorporating the same signature signage and sleek combination of light birch wood, tile floors and soaring ceilings. With the welcoming atmosphere the architect achieved, “you can definitely tell it’s the same store,” Hennesy says.
Referred to by Hennesy as “Store 2,” this latest Urban Matter space showcases an array of women’s wear and accessories, kid’s duds and toys, pet items and some smaller furniture. “We moved the bulk of our women’s clothing, handbags and jewelry to our new space…doubled our kid’s offerings and added pet items,” Hennesy says, noting the inventory includes “easy-to-wear” Turkish handloom cotton and linen women’s apparel, “easy-to-wash” Milkbarn organic children’s wear and “colorful, educational” kid’s toy line, Djeco. “We wanted to make sure our toys provide some kind of education in a fun way, like Uncle Goose language blocks…and we have books for talking to kids about social justice, race and being kind, good humans.”
Meanwhile, Hennesy says “Store 1,” the shop at 3179 S. Grand Blvd., now houses an even bigger selection of its customer-favorite Toronto-based Gus Modern furniture line, including the “easily re-configurable” bi-sectional sofa, as well as a larger curated collection of treasures – from housewares, textiles, artwork and specialty foods to jewelry. “We still have great customer service and continue to have a really great selection of curated items,” Hennesy says. “We’re always finding new gifts and still working with a lot of local makers.”
Urban Matter’s unique finds from local artisans include St. Louis attorney Shannon Bradford’s all-natural skin care line, Hossmas; Malaika Tolford’s handmade Place Value Pottery; Brad Zulick’s Heirloom Bottling Co.’s all-natural cocktail shrubs and mixers; Melissa Hampton’s contemporary Ascendant Jewelry; and Clay by Cait handcrafted earrings.
More than ever, the pandemic is highlighting customers’ desire for Urban Matter’s versatile, bohemian, homey-feeling products to incorporate into their own homes. “People are spending a lot of time at home, so we’re trying to add things that will make their house feel comfy, homey and welcoming,” Hennesy says, adding that the stores’ signature items make for livable, transitional homes – essential for families as they not only live and entertain at home, but now may also have workdays and school days from home. “We have items designed for how people live…things you can use and move around in your living space as you change and grow.”
Urban Matter, 3179 & 3189 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314-456-6941, urbanmatterstl.com
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