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Hardscrabble Debuts on Halsted

By Casey Cora | November 12, 2012 4:40pm

BRIDGEPORT — Some people have asked Leanne Scanlon what it's like to work with her mom. She's quick to answer.

"Are you kidding me? It's great," she said.

Scanlon, 30, is the co-owner of Hardscrabble, a new gift shop at 3333 S. Halsted St. that she's opened with her mother, Janet, a retired Chicago Police Department detective. The store opened Saturday.

For Leanne, the debut of Hardscrabble represents another step in a career that's so far included bartender, model, movie extra and managing partner of a Wicker Park boutique. For Janet Scanlon, 56, the new shop represents an encore career, a retirement plan aided by her family's experience running a now-shuttered antique store in Beverly.

"There are no gift stores on the South Side of the entire city ... so we thought we'd fill a void," she said

Named with a nod to the original "Hardscrabble," a fur trading post located in what would eventually become Bridgeport, the store is packed with racks full of fair wage and Chicago-centric gifts.

T-shirts with Chicago police and fire regalia, sports team memorabilia and Chicago flag baby onesies share space in the store with shoulder bags made from old seat belts and purses made from old vinyl records. They sell handmade pins and bracelets made from old bike tire innertubes and recycled license plates. Some of the vendors send proceeds to impoverished areas around the globe.

"The rest [of the store] is something different but still affordable," said Janet Scanlon.

That might mean greeting cards, sports team memorabilia or a rack full of kitschy collectibles, from Marilyn Monroe mugs to a John Wayne cookie jar.

For now, the Scanlons are putting the final touches on the store and working to procure more work from responsible artisans. They're aiming to keep things priced between $10 and $30.

Last week, nearby resident Jesse Flores entered the store and exited with new items for his comic collection.

A self-described "Spider-Man freak" with the faded superhero tattoo on his forearm to prove it, he snagged a Spider-Man mug and a collection of four Marvel Comics pint glasses.

"Honestly, truly I saw the price and I had take them," said Flores, 52, a warehouse parts manager. "They were affordable and I had to get them."

For more on Hardscrabble's hours and contact information, see the store's Facebook page.