Little Luxuries

inside Little Luxuries store
Photo by Eric Tadsen

While wandering State Street in downtown Madison, few stores elicit more fun and laughter than Little Luxuries. Located on the 200 block, this independently owned shop is a colorful destination for unique gifts and accessories. Stocking everything from gadgets to baby gifts, books, fashion accessories, games, stationery, and more, it is no surprise Little Luxuries has been a State Street staple for more than 25 years.

Stepping through its doors is a visual treat. With high ceilings and an eclectic layout, it is immediately apparent this is a store built for fun. Brightly colored walls are adorned with apothecary products and one-of-a-kind greeting cards, while tables are organized with rows of affordable and stylish cooking utensils, humorous books, and sunglasses. “We’ve created our own little world here with gifts that are thoughtful and tailored to every individual,” says owner Amy Moore. “Our products are ever changing, too, which offers a fresh selection and new experience each visit.”

photo by Eric Tadsen

Opened in 1990 by then owner Janice Durand, Little Luxuries originally served as a local shopping destination for professional women in search of gifts and accessories for the home. Since then, its offerings have expanded under the new ownership of Amy, a Madison-born designer turned businesswoman. “Owning your own business is a creative project,” says Amy. “I liked the idea of working for myself, and the freedom that gives me to create a design-minded environment and an avenue to connect with my community.”

That keen eye for design is apparent throughout the store, and a skill she honed studying interior design at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduating, Amy spent time living abroad in Europe before returning to Madison and joining Little Luxuries on a part-time basis in 2006. She eventually worked her way into management before purchasing the store from Janice, who retired in 2011.

Finding the eclectic mix of products that customers have come to expect from Little Luxuries is no simple feat. To ensure the uniqueness of each item, Amy and her staff of 10 employees handpick everything that makes it onto the store’s shelves. “Regardless of where it comes from, the most important thing to us is that each item is both fun and functional,” says Amy. Their selection of goods comes at a variety of price points and offers both American- and locally-made options. One of their newest bestsellers is a line of soaps by Janet Marie Felted Goods of Madison. The handcrafted soap balls, wrapped in locally-sourced felt, serve as a cleanser and loofah, and come in a variety of scents. The Bohemian Bauble, a boho-inspired line of jewelry by Madison artist Tami Reschke, can also be found in store.

photo by Eric Tadsen

Little Luxuries maintains an infectious optimistic attitude, even during the recession that began in 2008 and forced many businesses to close. Amy asserts, “There are always ebbs and flows with running a business, and you learn to make adjustments and find ways to make it through the tough times.” Luckily, the neverending bustle of being on State Street ensures new customers are constantly passing through Little Luxuries’ doors. With an entire section devoted to toys and gifts for the little ones, the shop also enjoys being a favorite kid-friendly stop. “Kids love coming in, and it’s fun to be a part of a child’s memory by offering them the toys and games they’ll remember playing with later in life as adults,” says Amy. With the Children’s Theater of Madison located just upstairs, it seems like a natural fit.

Their dedication to children is reflective of their greater commitment to the Madison community. “I like to think Little Luxuries and its staff are ambassadors to visitors who come to Madison from all across the world,” says Amy. Summer has always been an especially busy time for visiting out-of-towners with special events like Cars on State, Maxwell Street Days, farmers’ markets, and festivals occurring throughout June, July, and August.

photo by Eric Tadsen

Little Luxuries’ community support and involvement extends to Dane Buy Local and multiple non-profit organizations in the area. In addition, Amy sits on the board of the Greater State Street Business Association, which is a group of more than 100 State Street businesses that come together to work to enhance the area through outreach and interaction with the local community. “We love connecting with the community and being a part of the vibrancy and life that State Street offers our city. And the community is happy to reciprocate those feelings,” says Amy.

Holly Whittlef is a freelance designer and writer who lives in Madison and blogs about her love of good design and food at Hollis Anne.