ROGERS PARK — Whenever Andrew A. Johnston’s mom visited him in Chicago, the two would go antique shopping at the Far North Side’s resale shops and area estate sales.
They bonded over their admiration of art and vintage items. So when Johnston’s mom Billie Johnston died in 2019, he decided to change careers and follow a passion shared by both mother and son.
That idea turned into Andy’s Art, Antiques & Oddities, one of the North Side’s newest antiques and gift shops at 1253 W. Devon Ave.
“It hit me harder than I ever thought it would,” Johnston said of his mother’s death. “I wanted to do something I would enjoy, something that my mom would have loved and something that was part of our shared passion.”
After leaving his corporate job of 12 years, Rogers Park resident Johnston opened Andy’s in late 2020. Last weekend, Johnston unveiled the second portion of his shop, which is stocked with garden and landscape items.
The store carries vintage furniture, decor and gifts. It stocks arts and crafts by local painters and artisans and unique finds like old industrial items including keys and machine gears.
Andy’s allows Johnston to pursue two passions: sourcing vintage goods and supporting local arts. As an artist who works in pottery and painting, Johnston said he always worked to support local artists. Now that he’s a store owner, he works to highlight art from Rogers Park and other locally based artists.
“I’ve always had a passion for art and support local artists,” Johnston said. “I’d like to do that with the store.”
When he came up with the idea for the vintage shop, Johnston reached out to the Rogers Park Business Alliance. He enrolled in its GROW entrepreneur training program and consulted them about opening a business locally.
As a Rogers Park resident, Johnston knew he wanted his business to be local and become part of the antiques circuit that includes Broadway Antique Market and a number of other businesses in Edgewater and Andersonville.
But then the coronavirus swept into Chicago. The pandemic has caused dozens of businesses to close down, including beloved vintage shop Edgewater Antique Mall. Johnston was already stocking items and investing in the store, and he knew he couldn’t afford a setback.
“I had to keep rolling,” Johnston said. “I had inventory and I needed somewhere to go. I didn’t want to start online and always wanted a brick-and-mortar. And I knew there wasn’t much in Rogers Park that had what I would offer.”
Johnston found a place at 1253 W. Devon Ave., which is on the Edgewater side of the street that divides the two neighborhoods. The shop is within walking distance from his home, and Johnston has worked to make friends among neighboring residents and businesses.
Andy’s has hosted a DJ night and invited local business Ice Cream Girl to offer free samples to customers at the shop. An Easter egg hunt at Andy’s included donated gifts from local businesses including Honey Pie Bake Shop and Archie’s Cafe.
“I love the neighborhood,” said Johnston, who is originally from Grand Rapids, Mich. “It was important to me to stay in Edgewater or Rogers Park.”
Andy’s Art, Antiques & Oddities is open 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday- Saturday and 12 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. It is closed Monday. For more information on the business, click here.
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