A popular Barrington gift store, G. Whiz, will close its doors after two decades. The last day the store will be open is March 31.
“We’ve been here a long time in this community and I’m excited about the next step,” said Jan Cunningham who owns the store with her husband, Bob.
The next step for the Cunninghams is semi-retirement. The Cunnighams own Pandora stores in Deer Park and in Tucson, AZ. They plan to split their time between Arizona and Barrington, which allows them to spend time with both of their sons. Their oldest son, Matthew, is a financial consultant in Chicago. Their youngest son, Bryan, teaches on a Navaho reservation in Arizona and is working on his master’s degree.
Before closing the doors on the Foundry shop G. Whiz, there will be big sales and celebrations.
On Feb. 7, G. Whiz will hold an invitation only sale, starting at 10 a.m. On Feb. 8, the store will hold a sale open to the general public, starting at 10 a.m. The store will remain open until March 31.
“I’ve never really discounted. We’ll have the whole store on sale. I’ve spent the last three days re-pricing every single item,” Jan Cunningham said.
She said the closing sales will include contests and treasure hunts.
“We’ll have lots of fun things going on,” she said.
Business Got its Start at Bell's Apple Orchard
Jan Cunningham got her start in the business when she was living in California and her friend took her to a gift show. The Cunninghams moved to Barrington in 1989 and participated in about 50 fairs per year, she said. Jan Cunnigham partnered with Art in the Orchard at Bell’s Apple Orchard in Lake Zurich and sold her hand-crafted jewelry.
In 1993, the Cunningham’s moved their business to The Foundry.
“We started with jewelry and had items from all kinds of artists across the US,” she said.
Over the years, the store expanded taking over the space of two other stores at The Foundry.
Beanie Baby Trend Remembered Fondly
Cunningham said she enjoyed being on the cutting edge of new trends. She especially enjoyed the Beanie Baby craze.
“We had people making Beanie Baby clothing and Beanie Baby beds. That kind of craze will never happen again,” Cunningham said.
The Cunninghams began selling Pandora merchandise in 2004 at G. Whiz.
“We saw it (Pandora) grow and grow and we knew if we did not open a store in Deer Park, somebody else would,” she said.
Pandora Deer Park opened in 2011 and the Arizona store in 2010.
“We knew we wanted to retire in Arizona,” Cunningham said.
She said she has enjoyed and will miss her customers and employees. “It has been a pleasure to serve this community – the loyalty and joy our customers have brought us and our employees are unsurpassed. We hope you will miss us, as much as we miss you,” Cunningham said.