New Laurel District Gift Shop 'Mischief' Spotlights Local Makers

The term "gift shop" might evoke images of overpriced tchotchkes, but the proprietors of Mischief, a new Laurel District store that opened on Saturday, have loftier plans.

Customers won't find calendars and inspirational posters; instead, owners Lauren and Julien Shields plan to deploy their 1200-square-foot storefront as a community space that will serve as workshop, classroom, and screening room.

"For years, we've lightly fantasized of having a store that added to community, that brought the community together," said Laura.

Julien and Laura Shields.

Before opening Mischief, she and Julien ran their own business making jewelry from used books. In addition to jewelry, the shop also sells framed photos of vintage signs, pillows, tote bags, and block print T-shirts that Laura said she's "obsessed with."

"We wanted to expand beyond our own personal brands," said Julien. 

"This is a neighborhood that is super underserved. Having a local focus and bringing in almost all local designers is huge for us," added Laura, who said General Store in San Francisco was an inspiration.

While some items on display are vintage-inspired, the Shields said they want to offer more than the nostalgia typically on display in other shops. "I'd say we strive to be colorful, modern, unusual—playful has to be there, too," said Lauren.

To realize their goal of creating a space for artists, the couple plans to host creative pop-ups twice each month that give aspiring makers a chance to build their skills by holding or attending workshops.

"[Artists] can use the workshops to build up their confidence until they're ready to do a pop-up of their own," said Julien, adding that he and Laura don't intend to take a cut from any workshops hosted in their space.

The storefront is much larger than the couple expected to find, but they hope a revolving schedule of gallery shows, pop-ups and classes will keep them in business. Mindful of gentrification, they hope to keep their space and services accessible to the local community.

"We're residents of this neighborhood. With [Mischief] we're trying to fill a pocket." said Laura.

Mischief is located at 3908 Macarthur Blvd. and is open from 11– 6 Wednesday through Sunday.

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New laurel district gift shop mischief spotlights local makers