Toots & Magoo

Toots & Magoo

Trent Johnson
Jun 29, 2009

Toots and Magoo is another one of those stores that can't be summed up in just a couple words. What do they sell? Officially, it's Art, Antiques and Paper Goods, but they are constantly evolving —hosting letter press workshops, French social nights, and best of all, striving to maintain a good connection with the community. Jump below for more photos and an interview with the founders...

Toots and Magoo is a partnership between three talented ladies: mother, daughter and godmother. Beyond paper goods, including recycled paper cards, they also carry a number of locally found antiques, act as a showcase for some impressive handpicked local art, and host various functions on a weekly basis.

They also carry some more well-known brands, including the following:

Toms Shoes: Socially conscious shoes
Dutch Door Press: Letter Press and Design Studio
Egg Press: Letter Press Studio in Portland, OR.
Delphine Press: Paper goods made with post-consumer waste content and 100% soy-based ink.

I had the chance to speak with Chloƫ Greene, Visual Coordinator and buyer for Toots and Magoo, and also one of three owners about their store and here is what she had to say:

Toots & Magoo is a family affair. My mother, my godmother and I have collaborated to create a space that describes a possible way of living that embraces creativity. We have styled the store to fuse old pieces with new pieces to inspire collaboration -- and have an obvious array of hand-made product to demonstrate the sophistication of an artisanal aesthetic.

Is Toots and Magoo your first business venture?

Oh goodness, no. My mother ("Toots") had an art gallery in San Francisco for 20 years and my godmother ("Magoo") had an antique store and appraisal business. I have years of experience, wisdom and expertise on either side of me. Another neat fact is that they also had a antique shop together when they were my age, on Union Street in San Francisco.

How did their experience in San Francisco turn into a store in North Carolina?

The timing was perfect. My mother, my godmother and I were all living in North Carolina at the same time and being the creative people that we are, we got restless. We decided to collaborate on what is now an amazing outlet for all us and a much needed family-owned business in the neighborhood.

Does Toots & Magoo have an official stance on the environment?

We are basically in business because we understand that shopping needs to be redirected back to "main street" and away from the mall. The health of our country depends on us getting smart about how we are spending our money and where. The re-using of items (i.e. antiques) is the greenest way to be. It is also a lot better to shop for quality products that last longer — they may cost more a bit more but people should be shopping for the long run, not the short run. Back in the day, products were made to last and it is extremely evident to me that we are returning to that mentality. Craftsmanship is important to more and more people these days.

You have a lot of great stuff in your store. As a buyer, how do you know what's going to be in this season and next?

I observe a lot. I have a very strong opinion about what I think people should buy and shouldn't buy, and I use the store as an expressive outlet for what materials, colors, patterns and ideas I think are relevant and important. Fortunately for my customers, I think FUN, CREATIVITY and INNOVATION are very very important.

What has been your most popular item of late?

TOMS shoes. People say it makes them feel good to buy them, knowing that another pair of shoes are going to a child somewhere. Also, our fine-tip wooden ball-point pens are very, very popular for the people who geek out on school supplies. And handbags. People love our selection of bags!

Do you have any green tips for our readers? For example, what decor or furnishing is going to be trendy in the near future, etc.

Ooh. Yes. It is extremely trendy, and getting trendier (hooray!) to buy vintage and antique furniture and recover it with contemporary materials. It's not just re-using, it's re-inventing!

I love that Toots & Magoo is constantly evolving. Any previews on what's to come?

We, ourselves, rarely know what's ahead. We like to keep things spontaneous because it adds to the whimsy of the space. We re-arrange the displays a lot and always have rotating windows depending on what's happening in the community at the time.

Any tips on finding really neat antiques?

Travel the world.

Visit Toots and Magoo and Toots and Magoo Blog.

Acrobat Store Display Photo and Postcard Display photo by Julia Paris Photography. See more beautiful photos of the store at Julia Paris Photography.

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