Don’t let store’s name fool you
8/24/12 Owner Kathy Carlstrom at Country Classics in Glenview. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
THREE GIFT IDEAS FOR $30 OR LESS:
1. Personalized water tumblers: $30
2. Lily Pulitzer iPhone covers: $28
3. Monogrammed cosmetic bags in 12 colors: $12
1405 N. Waukegan Road.
Hours: Mondays through Thursdays, 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays,9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Updated: October 14, 2012 12:29PM
GLENVIEW — Kathy and Roger Carlstrom were married on a Saturday and opened Country Classics on Monday. That was 31 years ago. Today, the store continues to thrive.
“There’s not really a store around here that sells what we sell, traditional, classic clothing that never goes out of style,” Kathy said.
Country Classics, located in Glen Oak Plaza on Waukegan Road, carries women’s and children’s clothing, accessories, gifts, jewelry, handbags and home goods. The store also sells two popular lines: Lily Pulitzer and Vera Bradley. Carlstrom says those are her biggest sellers.
“People come from all over Illinois for our selection of Lily Pulitzer items,” she said. “It’s such a great line because it covers all ages, from young children to high school kids to their moms to their grandmothers. It’s upscale and the prints and the fabrics and the styles are wonderful.”
Barb O’Keefe has worked at Country Classics for 12 years, and said the Vera Bradley collection of handbags, accessories, makeup bags and wallets sell like crazy.
“These are bags that are affordable and they appeal to all ages. They are light, and they are timeless,” says O’Keefe, “Every quarter, the new prints and styles come out and we have a following for that. Customers come in just for that.”
Carlstrom, who has lived in Northbrook for more than 30 years, raising her three adult children there, said she chose Glenview as the location for Country Classics because she saw a need.
“I had no background in retail,” say said. “I had always wanted to open up a monogram store, and I always enjoyed shopping, so this seemed right. I love Glenview. I love the community and I love the customer loyalty.”
Carlstrom said the location of the store has been great, and she enjoys being by Trader Joe’s because they are a specialty shop, as well.
“I think they drive a lot of our business, but I think we give them business, too.”
Gifts is a huge part of Country Classic’s business, with gift choices ranging from $10-$300, and free gift wrapping with a large selection of paper and ribbon choices.
“We have a lot of customers who come in and say, ‘I need a $10 gift, what do you have?’ O’Keefe said.
“This is such a unique store,” said Beverly Spilman, who lives in Arizona and always shops at Country Classics when she’s visiting her family in Glenview. “You can find a gift in here for anyone.”
Carlstrom says the hardest part of owning the business is the buying, and she is constantly looking for new lines that aren’t being sold everywhere. What she loves most about the business is being on the floor with customers.
“It’s so much fun to help people pick out gifts and to see them leave happy.”
The name Country Classics came from a party the Carlstroms threw a few weeks before the store opened. They had everyone at the party put a store name suggestion in a hat and Carlstrom picked Country Classics out of the hat.
“We were never ‘country,’” says Carlstrom, “Country is not our thing. It’s just a great name.”