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Business Spotlight: Absolutely Anything Essential Gift Shop

Absolutely Anything Essential was initially created as a pop up gift shop gracing flea markets and vendor events throughout Illinois for Pier One Import Lovers and Hobby Lobby Addicts. It has since grown into a retail incubator corridor that offers an eclectic ensemble of over 18 businesses under one roof offering specialty items such as bath and body, natural hair products, gourmet treats, Chicago souvenirs, apparel, home fragrance, inspirational keepsakes, jewelry and home accents to fit their client’s personal style. They have assembled an array of trimonthly local and national vendors along with skillful handmade artisans and business entrepreneurs who showcase unique product lines that embody their company’s image of a “Modern & Urban Lifestyle.” Over the past year Kenya has grown her gift shop in not only being a strong supporter of small businesses, but also becoming a hub for south side residents, visitors, artists and those who love crafting and inspiring others.

Kenya Renee is no stranger to entrepreneurship. She comes from a family of business owners and credits her grandmother who taught her how to use her creativity to inspire others and deal fairly with vendors. Her grandmother, known as Ethel Mae Robertson, who recently passed away at age 92, was all about diversification. She was a known seamstress in Chicago and sold her handmade quilts, skirts and handcrafted lye soap to private clients and at local markets for over 50 years. She worked diligently to build solid foundations for her family. It also seems to run in the family because her cousins are successful small business owners as well. They are owners of Hyde Park Hair Salon, which is the official salon to President Obama. Nita’s Gumbo and Nikki Nicole Collections are a few other successful business entities within the family.

Here are a few Q&A’s regarding Absolutely Anything Essential:

Where is the gift shop Located? The Gift shop is located at 3521 S. King Drive, in Chicago, which is right in the heart of the 3rd ward, less than a five minute drive from Lake Shore Drive and a short stroll to the McCormick Place.

Why is the galleria located in Bronzeville? Bronzeville supports creative arts. Our mission is to offer unique experiences. Absolutely Anything Essential prides itself on its robust history of supporting locally owned independent businesses.

Why did Kenya Renee Develop Absolutely Anything Essential? Every theatre must have their own gift shop. Absolutely Anything Essential is the house gift shop of FAM Entertainment Theater Company. Kenya wanted to offer perspective retailers unique opportunities to showcase their remarkable handmade items. Kenya realized that many start-up entrepreneurs, artists and artisans wanted essential high traffic outlets for their work. Kenya developed the gift shop as a friendly and judgment free environment from which entrepreneurs, artists and artisans can successfully sell their merchandise in a professional setting without the traditional retail costs.

Who should consider merchandising in the gift shop? Absolutely Anything Essential provides an opportunity for local handmade artisans and entrepreneurs to gain exposure without the high costs of long term commitments. The gift shop is perfect for artists, entrepreneurs and handmade artisans who have items to sell, but who are unable to commit to running a full service retail space.

What do I get if I rent space at Absolutely Anything Essential? Space – Spaces range from 10 inches wide to 50 inches wide and 72 inches in length. All spaces are open for easy customer visibility. In addition to the open spaces, there is wall available to hang items. Each space will also include track lighting,

A Manager, and Sales Associates – The gift shop is staffed by a qualified sales representatives who will handle all transactions. All sold items will be tracked to each vendor and vendors will receive a sales check each month for sales minus 2% commission of total monthly sales. While vendors need not be available to staff their own spaces, all are welcome to do so each first Friday of every month.

Fully Maintained Space – Common areas in the gift shop are cleaned by Absolutely Anything Essential’s staff.

What are the merchandising standards for tenants in The Gift Shop? Absolutely Anything Essential sets a high standard for its merchandising environment. Products and artwork are displayed in a tasteful, inviting manner, creating an attractive upscale setting that highlights the unique merchandise and artwork that are displayed.

What is the required pop-up term? Pop up contracting is for 3 months or 90 days and may be cancelled at anytime with 60 days prior written notice. Retailers should sign up for this space with the intent that this is a short term commitment. Upon mutual agreements between manager and vendor, vendor may have first opportunity to renew and extend pop up contract with no disruption of display. If a vendor is not doing well or needs to get out of its space, 60 days prior written notice is required and the vendor will vacate the space in the condition in which it was delivered.

What are the Absolutely Anything Essential Gift Shop hours of operation? We are open Wednesday through Saturday. Sundays are by appointment only.

How do I get paid? Rent starts at $35 per month for a space on the first floor. You must pay the first 2 months at time of agreement for renting a pop up space at Absolutely Anything Essential. Retail spaces wanting to showcase their merchandise in the front of the gift shop along with the Signature lines, rent for $125 – $265 per month, depending on location. The gift shop also takes a 2% commission of monthly gross sales after the 30 day introductory period. Vendors are paid at the end of each month.

How do I reserve space in the Gift Shop? Please contact our manager with pictures of your products, resume and your price points for consideration. Please contact us at 773-406-7663. You can also reach us by email at

Kenya truly has a passion for people. It’s her genuine spirit that assists, inspires, and encourages those in need of motivation. She enjoys consulting and embracing ventures that can be orchestrated through traditional and non-traditional avenues for individuals, artists, business owners, executives, convention exhibitors, tour managers, product brands, fundraising ideas, group outings and sponsored events.

When you have a moment, stop by and visit Kenya in the Bronzeville area!

Absolutely Anything Essential, 3521 S. King Drive, Chicago, IL.

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