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One Strange Bird's Search for Bigger Digs Ends on Division Street

By Alisa Hauser | April 23, 2013 10:06am

WICKER PARK — For shoppers still mourning the closure of Renegade Craft on Division Street, there's good news: One Strange Bird.

One Strange Bird, which sells handmade gifts and art, outgrew its original digs in Humboldt Park and relocated Saturday to 2124 W. Division St. in Wicker Park.

The 1,500-square-foot storefront was formerly home to the Bullfrogs and Butterflies children's Boutique, which closed in August.

One Strange Bird's owner and founder Nicole Northway, 30 — who named the shop after her childhood nickname — said,  "the foot traffic is much better" on Division Street than in the stretch of North Avenue just west of Western Avenue, which she referred to as her "Humboldt beginnings."

Northway said that on one day over the weekend, One Strange Bird had more sales than it did in one week at its previous location at 2515 W. North Ave., which opened in August 2011.

The new storefront, according to Northway, offers "a much larger space and a more welcoming environment" as well as an added back room studio dubbed "the nest," which enables the store to host studio art workshops for adults and kids or private parties.

"We will definitely miss being over in our old place where we started, but the good news is we're not that far away," Northway said. "There's a lot more life over here [on Division Street]. I was blown away that they have people that come and clean the trash off the sidewalk and there's a cop who is very friendly and walks around the street."

Northway, who is trained as an artist and educator, said BYOB painting, mixed media collage and hand printed fabrics are some of the more popular adult classes that she teaches, while fellow instructor Jessica Egan offers clay and lotion making courses, too.

An upcoming kids summer camp, which kicks off in June, offers theme-based courses running the gamut from outer space art to basic comic book making and "amazing animals," which assists students with creating their favorite animals using clay, collage and paint.

In addition to art supplies, wares for sale at One Strange Bird include a selection of original T-shirts, baby onesies and bibs, mugs, coin purses, hats, jewelry and original one-of-a kind pieces like Alapash Terrariums

In a nod to its former location, a "West of Western" T-Shirt designed by a Humboldt Park resident is one of One Strange Bird's best-selling apparel items, Northway said.

Featured on designer Nate Berkus' website, the controversial T-shirt once hung in the window of One Strange Bird's North Avenue location and prompted a local teacher to ask Northway to remove it from the window.

According to Northway, the teacher thought the shirt, which has an Old West saloon-style font and two revolvers on it "supported gang violence."

While Northway, who lives in Humboldt Park, removed the shirt from the display window, she said the design was intended to "poke fun at people who have a perspective that ... being 'west of Western' is somehow more dangerous than east of Western Avenue."

One Strange Bird is located at 2124 W. Division St.