GOLD COAST — With three Candyality stores to run, Terese McDonald doesn't have much down time.
But when a space opened up on the second floor of Water Tower Place, where her flagship candy store is located, McDonald couldn't pass it up.
In early November, McDonald opened cur8ed, a pop-up shop filled with quirky, artsy, tasty merchandise — everything from skull-shaped speakers and chunky necklaces to chili-spiked chocolates.
Her inspiration came from the unlikeliest of places: a Cracker Barrel country store that she happened upon while driving her daughter to college a few years ago.
"I had never been in one before and I found it fascinating, a trove of treasures, some I wanted to buy, some not," she said.
This being Michigan Avenue, though, cur8ed skews more urban than Utica. Merchandise is grouped by theme. A pig area in the center of the store includes bacon-chocolate chip pancake mix from high-end chocolatier Vosges and signs that read "I love you more than bacon." One wall of shelves holds locally made jams, hot sauces and salsas from producers who sell at the Green City Market. For sale on another wall are vintage portraits from McDonald's own collection.
Customer Billie Kubly, 77, visiting from Milwaukee, was impressed by the unique mix of products.
"They have a little bit of everything, and good merchandising. I've never seen a lot of this before. You go into a lot of stores now, it's all the same stuff," said Kubly, who bought a few books for her grandkids signed by the author Amy Krouse Rosenthal (a regular Candyality customer).
McDonald's background as an beauty industry exec might explain her knack for pulling things together. It also might inspire her next project. "I started a new idea and have a folder that will bring me back to my roots if it ever comes out of the folder to reality," she said.
Cur8ed is open through the end of January, though McDonald said it may extend beyond that, or pop up elsewhere in Water Tower.
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