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Martha Mae-A Favorite Destination for Art Supplies and Inspiration

Once in awhile, you walk into a store and feel transported to another world. Martha Mae: Art Supplies & Beautiful Things is one such place.

Last winter, about this time, I discovered Martha Mae in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. Though not large, my husband and I spent well over an hour in there ticking through our holiday shopping list and finding gifts for artists and those who haven’t picked up a box of paints or sketchpad in years. We were not about to leave until we had looked, touched and tested our way through the store – yes, “tested.” Trying to decide between different pencils, we were invited to try them out at the back counter. Martha Mae, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and the store’s namesake, was curled up in his basket sleeping away despite a bustling store – just so darn cute!

Flash forward from last year to this and, like so many other businesses, Martha Mae was forced to close its brick and mortar store because of the pandemic. The store has moved 100% online.

A couple of weeks ago, I popped onto the website to make a couple of gift purchases, and the box arrived a few days later. When I opened it, I was immediately wowed by all the care they had taken to package my treasures (eco-friendly, too!). For a few minutes, it was as if I was standing at the back counter waiting for my purchases. Tucked in a small bag were several items including a small watercolor of a kumquat with a hand-written thank you note on the back. In this era where we hunger for in-person gatherings, these little touches were so appreciated.

On this small business Saturday, shop local and be sure to check out stores that may have moved from Main Street to just online. And if you are looking for art supplies or a beautiful gift – especially for that hard-to-buy-for-person – check out Martha Mae. Oh, and my favorites at the store… Beam Paints, all the inks, and the Moon Calendars.

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