On Saturday Peach Fuzz unwrapped its pink paper-covered windows and opened for playtime. The rainbow-colored shop sells pretty wood balancing blocks, progressive children’s books, cards celebrating adoption, vibrant stuffed critters from Mexico, and other high-quality items for anyone who wants to play.
This is Claire Tibbs’s second store in the neighborhood: Five years ago, she opened Humboldt House, which sells eclectic art, ceramics, vintage rugs, and jewelry. The feminist shop is a community-driven space and Peach Fuzz will be too.
“It’s for kids that feel different or families that are outside the norm,” Tibbs told Curbed Chicago. “We want it to be a beautiful, comfortable space where everyone feels welcome and seen.”
The idea for Peach Fuzz came during a trip to Paris, where she spent hours fascinated in the children’s section of a bookstore. On the flight back to Chicago, she brainstormed concepts for a new store and landed on the name.
“It’s something both kids and adults have; it’s really tactile and bodily. You can visualize and feel it when you say it,” Tibbs said.
She designed the shop based on playful, welcoming elements—taking the LGBTQ rainbow flag and turning it into Luis Barragán-inspired walls. Finer Signs worked on the exterior Peach Fuzz lettering and, inside the shop, painted a Memphis-style mural with block shapes and squiggles.
Those who are tiny enough can crawl into a wall opening into a former storage closet and find a secret reading room with turf, bean bags, and a rainbow ceiling. There is a little Art Deco influence too, but mostly it’s lots of colors and shapes Tibbs felt fit the space.
At the shop, Tibbs envisions art classes for protest sign making, story circles with drag queens, and workshops for parents raising transgender or gender-nonconforming kids.
Throughout the store and products, all kids and families are represented, and Tibbs hopes that will help parents of nonbinary and queer kids. When a transgender kid comes out, she said, it should feel like a celebration, not something heavy.
There aren’t any gender-specific sections and the shelves steer clear of stereotypes like pink for girls or science-y activities for boys. Instead, the shop is filled with bright, vibrant objects and high-quality toys. The selection of books are on par with the shop’s politics, including stories on immigrant families, adoptions, black girls’ hair, and a boy who likes to dress up all the time.
Tibbs deliberately selected items that felt special, because kids should have more than just throwaway toys. However, she emphasized that the objects in the shop are for everyone. It’s not kids only, just kid friendly.
It was important, she said, to create a store that celebrates all families and provides tools for kids to have agency in their world. After seeing how engaged younger generations are, Tibbs was motivated to create a space with resources so that “every kid feels like they get to be their best self.”
“Adults have a lot of listening to do, and the next generation is clear about the world they want to live in,” she said. “I think it’s important to give kids the space and tools they need to educate adults.”
Peach Fuzz, 1005 N. California Avenue, is open noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.