A harmonica, an umbrella, a cocktail multitool: downtown Lawrence’s new gift shop has it all

Here’s how an obsession with coffee mugs turns into a portable jigger that you can fit into your front pocket. No, I haven’t been using a jigger today. Instead, I’ve got news about downtown Lawrence’s newest gift shop.

Anomaly opened at the corner of Eight and Massachusetts Street — in the former Central National bank building — in the last few days. The store is meant to be a “pure gift shop” that will sell you something unique and even gift wrap it too, said co-owner Scott Lloyd.

The store came to be after Lloyd, who had worked in downtown retail for about eight years, realized he had an obsession with buying things. Store co-owner, and Lloyd’s partner, Chase Blackwood already had noticed that, especially Lloyd’s infatuation with coffee mugs.

“My partner said ‘no more mugs,'” Lloyd said. “This is my outlet now for buying stuff.”

photo by: Chad Lawhorn

Chase Blackwood and Scott Lloyd, co-owners of Anomaly at 800 Massachusetts Street. Submitted photo.

Lloyd scours catalogs and websites for unique and fun gift items for Anomaly. One of them on the shelf now is a “cocktail multitool.” You know, it is like one of those super-manly pocket knife contraptions that also can serve as a pair of pliers and perhaps as a makeshift nuclear device if you are on an episode of “MacGyver.” This one is better, though, because it has a portable jigger. Yes, I mean a jigger that can fit in your pocket, plus a stir stick, a muddler, a zester, and . . . I probably should move on, but the Soviet Union would have collapsed 10 years earlier if MacGyver had one of these.

Lloyd said the shop strives to have something for all ages, and he said the merchandise will change frequently.

“That is one of our main business models, actually,” Lloyd said.

Right now the store has hundreds of items, with some on the playful side such as harmonicas, puzzles and even a set of “jumbo jacks,” (yes, the old-fashioned kids game.) But there are also more practical items, like cookbooks, lunch totes, soaps and oils, fancy wooden cutting boards, and, yes, a few coffee mugs. Stationery and greeting cards also are staples at the store. Lloyd said items range in price from a couple of dollars for festive sticky notes to about $50 for some of the larger items.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn

Merchandise at Anomaly gift shop in downtown Lawrence.

Lloyd said he’s seen stores similar to Anomaly in bigger cities, but he thinks the concept will work well in Lawrence. Lloyd — who previously worked at Footprints and Au Marche — said downtown Lawrence seems to be hungry for new retail options, especially the type that are easy for downtown pedestrians to stop in and browse.

“The first day we were open was fantastic,” Lloyd said of last weekend’s opening. “The foot traffic is great.”

Lloyd also thinks the shop will become a destination for people who don’t know quite what to buy but are worried they’ve gone to the gift card well one too many times.

“People who don’t know what to get will find something here,” Lloyd said.