Inside the Gum Tree shop on Pier Avenue. Photo by Ed Pilolla.
Lori Ford and her husband Will owned and operated a restaurant and bar in New York City that was open until 4 a.m. But Ford, who grew up in Manhattan Beach, always wanted to have a store on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach.
“Hermosa still feels to me like Manhattan did when I was a kid,” Ford said.
When the women’s clothing store Pink closed down and the wooden building at 238 Pier Avenue became available, the Fords moved quickly. They sold their apartment in New York, sold the restaurant and moved across the country, opening Gum Tree on Nov. 1, 2008.
“This was always my dream,” Ford said. “I have so much fun buying everything.”
Ford runs the gift store portion of the business while Will, who is from Australia, operates the Aussie-inspired café.
Gum Tree showcases many handcrafted gifts, some made on the other side of the world and some made locally. The vibrant store is awash in color and craftsmanship – from crocheted jellyfish and octopi ornaments to peace signs made of beads and glitter to soy candles, as well as unicorn hooded towels, recycled sailboat sails fashioned into tot bags and jewelry for people and furniture, and more.
Among the local-produced gifts are the Morea Rose Designs by Heather Swerdlow, including vintage bottles bought at flea markets and filled with sand and coral and other sea life; birthstone necklaces produced by Jennifer Buschbaum of JLynn Jewelry; recyclable wine bags by Marcie Carson of Mixt Studio; and My Bum Book by Corey Kingston of Bumble Stuff, which are little diaries for new moms to record the essentials of a baby’s first months.
Gum Tree also has a kids’ room, with a handmade yarn Christmas tree for toddlers, including handmade ornaments of mermaids and deep sea divers.
“We really are a traditional gift store and try to have something for everyone,” Ford said.
Perhaps the most popular hand-made item at Gum Tree are the sea shell Christmas trees produced by an artist in San Francisco. Ford said she usually sells out of them by mid-November because people who bought them in previous years want another to add to their collection.
Something new seems to always be rolling in to Gum Tree.
“The UPS driver must think we are insane: everyday with boxes, but especially this time of year,” Ford said. “I want everything in the store to be good quality and have a purpose. And I think I just like the way handmade things look.”
238 Pier Ave. Hermosa Beach. 310-376-8744. For more information, visit gumtreela.com.