Store Opening

February 18, 2007|By [SUSAN REIMER]

MARY & BLANCHE!

78 Maryland Ave., Annapolis

410-280-8891; maryandblanche.com

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday

Mary & Blanche! is irreverent retail at its funniest.

Opened in November by a mother and stepdaughter who laugh together like sisters, the shop in Annapolis' historic downtown offers plenty to keep them going.

"It is stuff we like," said Marian Rainford, who left corporate life at age 50 and hasn't looked back. "Wacky stuff.

"Our philosophy is, 'Life is too short to take anything too seriously.'"

The shop features lovely art deco kitchen gadgets such as toasters, dustpans and brooms, plus pepper grinders, potato peelers and cheese graters that look like little Russian dolls.

There are gag gifts and desk toys and a parking space goddess, who is supposed to help drivers find a spot from her perch on your dashboard.

But the store also has its practical side: It has single-handedly revived the hip flask with a collection of lovely enamel containers.

It is the cards, however, that keep the customers coming. "They are not for the faint of heart," said Rainford.

During Midnight Madness in December, when Annapolis stores stayed open late for reveling shoppers, the store rang with laughter.

"And people came back the next day and brought their friends," said Melissa Rainford, a mother of two small children with "about 5,000 years of experience in retail," according to her stepmother and partner.

"We were hoping Annapolis would get it," said Marian Rainford. "And they do."

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