“Decoratus absurdum”. This is the design mantra behind Foursided boutique. I sat down with co-founder and owner of Foursided boutiques, Gino Pinto and store manager (and artist!), Aidie Janci to find out more about my go to store in the city for gifts, jewelry, cards, the list goes on. My favorite part about shopping at Foursided is that no matter how many times you go in there (and in my case, it’s a lot!), you never know what new, local artist you’re going to discover or what piece of antique dishware is going to pop at you. Gino, Aidie and I chatted and laughed in the quiet, shady spot behind their Lakeview location. Here’s the scoop I got:
Tell me about yourself. How did you get started?
The concept began in 2001 when Co-owners and founders Todd Mack and Gino Pinto decided to utilize their different professional backgrounds (Todd in framing, Gino in business), which allowed them to seamlessly and successfully build what was once a simple frame shop into a 3 store (and coming soon: gallery) Chicago staple.
The original location opened on Broadway in Lakeview as a picture framing shop. The second location, (also in Lakeview) on Clark has more of a gifting focus (cards, art, vintage) and is managed by Aidie. The third location, also on Clark St. but in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood, combines the two ideas into their largest location.
Pinto and Janci attribute much of the store’s success to social media attention. That and a great relationship with customers. Pinto says the idea for the stores is, “more of an art than a science”. The team wants to provide shoppers with, “things that are accessible. Not high end but not low end. There’s something for everyone!” says Janci.
How would you describe the mood of Foursided?
A recent remodel of the Lakeview Clark Street location has allowed for a more open, airy environment for shoppers and employees. Colors have been updated and the store is easier to move around in, helping the customer feel more comfortable and not like they’re going to knock down a teacup tower with their yoga mat.
There is also an art exhibit space going in next door, scheduled to open this week (a celebratory opening and 10 year anniversary party is happening Friday, July 17th! Go check it out, I’ll be there!) Local artist Ben Holiday’s work will be on display at the event. Pinto also has plans for the new gallery space to function as extra retail space around the holidays. I’m salivating at the thought of an entire space filled with the gorgeous offerings Foursided usually has around the holidays –helloooo vintage Christmas ornaments!
How do you want your shopper to feel when they leave your store?
“We want them to feel excited and inspired” says Janci. She and Pinto want shoppers to get that spark of curiosity that can happen when wandering through a store. They want their customers to get lost –in a good way.
What inspires you?
AJ: “I’m an artist, I’m always making things. I’m inspired by active people. People doing and making things”. GP: “Prints. Learning new things” Currently, he’s taking a print and letterpress class at The Chicago Printmakers Collaborative once a week.
What are some of your favorite pieces at the moment?
Lucky horse press (Gino likes the prints), Methane Studios (Foursided is the only store in Chicago that carries their work), Human Shaped Robot prints (hand screen printed pieces), Star Shaped Press, Love Emily D, Kelly Parsell, Crash Candles (local suburban candlemaker), Snow and Graham, and The Found
Who are some local artists you work with?
Pinto tries to carry a Chicago artist in every department, and they work with a lot of Chicago printmakers and jewelry makers and carry their pieces in store. Another awesome element is that you can find a lot of employee art in store as well. Just recently, a birthday card was being passed around my office and on the artist on the back was very familiar!
What are some of your favorite vintage shops? Flea Markets?
Janci and Pinto know their way around a vintage shop, which is why I asked them for their sage advice. Some of their favorite hot spots are: Grayslake Antique Market, The Pink Elephant Mall near Springfield, Vintage Garage, Edgewater Antique Market, Renegade Craft Fair, Randolph Street Market and estate sales around the city and suburbs
“We need to treasure the things we have. There’s this idea to edit, edit, edit”, says Pinto. As a very type-A person who loves to edit, edit, edit, its a good reminder to walk into a place like Foursided and get a little lost.