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Take a detour into vintage fun on Central Street

Frolic & Detour owner Amy Gertler sits on a metallic vinyl sofa that’s an attention-grabbing piece in her eclectic vintage store. Credit: Judy Chiss

In June, vintage shop Frolic & Detour opened its doors at 1909 Central Street, replacing the former tenet, Healing Touch Massage, giving the north side of the block considerable pizzazz – and possibly more foot traffic.

The shop’s owner, Amy Gertler, is both an attorney who has practiced matrimonial law for 35 years and an avid collector and artist. A pink-and-orange neon window sign announces the shop’s name, which connotes breaking away from the daily grind in pursuit of pleasure, though Gertler said she picked the name because of its double meaning.

She explained that in the world of law, “’frolic and detour’ refers to a situation during which an employee strays considerably from their expected work responsibilities and causes an offense for which the employer is not liable.” Gertler liked the dual meanings to the phrase, just as she likes creating environments where things are sometimes funky, have unexpected juxtapositions and convey a bit of playfulness.

“I’ve a passion for decorating spaces, and I love the hunt-and-find of acquiring furniture, art, and other collectables,” she said. As a test run for opening a store, several years ago she and a partner opened a pop-up store on Dempster Street that they named Trash and Treasures.

“It was fun but also overwhelming because I still had a busy law practice taking much of my time,” Gertler said. After a while, she sold her share of the pop-up, deciding to wait until the time felt more conducive to owning and managing a business.

For customers, Frolic & Detour may create flashbacks to the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Visitors to the store are greeted by a long row of tall, colorful ceramic lamps that fill the top shelf of an oversized bookcase. Just a few feet away is an assortment of swag lamps and chandeliers that light up and add personality to the space.

“A blast from the past” describes the considerable assortment of lamps for sale at Frolic & Detour. The inventory includes pole lamps, luminator torchieres, sparkly globes, glass swags, glass mushrooms and ceramic table lamps, as well as an orange crystal chandelier. Credit: Judy Chiss

So that visitors will be reminded they’re “stepping into fun,” mixed in with pairs of side tables are ceramic Tiki-face planters, a stacking ottoman and a handsome wooden chest-of-drawers. There’s also a massive plastic black panther sprawled across a piece of furniture as a reminder for visitors to be curious and have fun.

Gertler is at home creating the kind of store she enjoys frequenting herself. She likes the intersection of old and new things, both functional and funky. People might suspect she grew up in a home filled with eclectic things, but she recalls her mother as “being pretty much of a minimalist and fairly conventional in her taste. “

“When people come into the store, they’re attracted to different kinds of things, of course,” Gertler said. “But I’ve noticed that frequently they are attracted to the vintage barware.”

Because often people ask Gertler if she has or knows where to locate something in particular, she has started keeping a notebook with those requests to help track down unique items. She said that she’s naturally outgoing person, enjoys those conversations and likes getting to know people who come into her store.

Gertler thinks of her place as both a vintage store and a gallery. Original abstract paintings fill the walls, and Gertler’s wearable art is on hooks and hangers towards the back of the shop. She has copied her original designs onto a digital platform and has printed them onto large scarves, as well as purses and hats.

Her stepson, Jason Fell, has art presented in large canvas panels containing small drawings of peoples’ faces with one or two lines of text under each. The quirky piece is entitled “Friends I Wish I Had,” and the artwork can even be ordered on a shower curtain.

The Frolic & Detour website shows items featured at the store, as well as those that may not currently be there but are available for purchase.

An Evanston resident since 2011, Gertler said she’s happy to live in the same neighborhood as her store and hopes it will add value to the community.

Frolic & Detour is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 am to 5 pm, and Sundays, noon to 4 pm

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