Archive for Sunday, May 3, 1998


May 3, 1998


A downtown gift store passes the one-year mark.

Laura Patterson

Special to Journal-world

With its unique array of stores and restaurants, downtown Lawrence always been a main attraction to local residents. But a newcomer on the block might have stolen the show.

Last April, a gift store called Hobbs moved into the corner location of 700 Mass. Hobbs was the invention of two local residents, Mark and Kathy Swanson. The Swansons also own a neighboring women's clothing store called Spectators.

``The store is named after the movie `Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation,' which starred my all-time favorite actor, Jimmy Stewart,'' said Mark Swanson.

The store offers a variety of unique and somewhat off-the-wall gifts. Elizabeth Knorr, first-time customer and University of Michigan sophomore said, ``My school has a downtown area of shops similar to these on Mass. Street, but not a shop as cool as this one.''

The Swansons travel to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas and Atlanta to bring back some of the hippest gifts and gadgets on the market. Some big sellers this spring include a line of cards featuring actual antique black and white family photos from the Santoro family, picture frames, and the Terranova bath and body line.

``I come to Hobbs on a regular basis because it is so fun just looking around,'' said repeat customer and Kansas University sophomore Jennifer Schultz.

Men's apparel is quite popular, especially the line of Blue Marlin baseball caps. The caps are replicas from the 1930s and 1940s Latin, Cuban and Negro leagues.

The current hot item is a Zen board which retails for $34. Inside a cardboard corrugated portfolio is a matted piece of water color paper. A bamboo brush and water is then used to create a visible design which disappears completely within the next five minutes.

See Gift, page 9

Hobbs has a few staple items, including their popular dishes. The dishes are commercial grade restaurant dishes which are extremely durable and dishwasher safe. In fact, these heavy dishes inspired the store tradition of using flour sacks as gift bags. Flour sacks are heavy duty and can hold up to 50 pounds.

From the tile floor to the old locker display units, Hobbs has hip decor as well. The entryway is currently lined with rubber tires filled with pots of freshly mowed green grass in the center, little chicks on various heights of wire, and cement Jayhawks.

The final result is best stated by the owner himself, ``This store takes more than fifteen minutes just to quickly browse through.''

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