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'Neighborly' Store Invites House Guests to Take Over Shop

 Neighborly turns over the shop to its indie artisans during a new series of "house guest" events.
Neighborly House Guests
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NORTH CENTER — No one would ever accuse Neighborly of not living up to its name.

The contemporary home goods shop is turning over its storefront at 2003 W. Montrose Ave. to house guests this weekend, and everyone is invited to visit.

On Saturday and Sunday, Neighborly will host the first of a series of "house guest" events, in which owners Jenny Beorkrem and Mary Beth Kapp overhaul the shop to feature the work of one of the local artisans carried by the store.

Julie Morelli and Andy Schwegler of Nourishing Notes are the first to receive the star treatment. The pair, who design culinary-themed printed items such as greeting cards and tea towels, will be on hand to mingle with customers from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on June 15.

Kapp said she and Beorkrem conceived of the house guest concept, which they plan to hold every six weeks or so, as a way of emphasizing the one-of-a-kind nature of the store's contemporary made-in-the-Midwest inventory while simultaneously establishing a stronger connection between the people who make stuff and the people who buy stuff.

"It's a way to celebrate the indie artist, the people who care about their craft," said Kapp. "These are the people who are making the things you're using to make your house your own. It gives a face to these goods."

Due to space limitations, Neighborly normally sells just a small sampling of Nourishing Notes offerings.

"We only carry five or six of her cards — she has 20 or 25," said Kapp. "It's a showcase for the artist to bring in their full product line."

For Morelli and Schwegler, the arrangement offers the opportunity to give their work a home, however temporary it may be.

The couple live in Ravenswood, which Morelli called a "really nurturing environment for creatives," but they operate Nourishing Notes, founded in 2007, and their graphic design studio, Letterform, out of an office space at 333 N. Oakley Ave.

"I don't have a storefront," said Morelli, who typically displays her wares at craft fairs and maintains an Etsy presence.

"Our stuff has a lot of wit and humor, most of it dry. To see people pick up our stuff and laugh and get it ... I look forward to those opportunities," said Morelli. "They're making a choice to spend more on a greeting card than they would at Hallmark. This is a way to meet the hands that do the printing."

As a further extension of the "neighborly" theme, Koval Distillery, just a bit north at 5121 N. Ravenswood Ave., will be sampling its spirits,  from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. during Saturday's house guest party.

Begyle Brewing, located on nearby Cuyler Avenue, will take over the taps from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., bringing along some of the last available bottles of Neighborly Stout, brewed especially for Neighborly's grand opening in the fall of 2012.

Morelli hinted that she might be packing some of her homemade Nutella, marshmallows and graham crackers for a play on s'mores.

That's the kind of house guest who gets invited back.