ArtQuest Gallery, a store that sells unique and handmade gifts, is closing after 20 years in downtown Hinsdale.
The last day is tentatively scheduled for April 30, said owner Anna Vojik, who opened the shop in 1999.
She gets a tear in her eye when she thinks about closing, she said, because the people she has met are more like friends than customers.
“It’s my favorite store in town,” said Julie Milani, who has been shopping at ArtQuest since she moved to Hinsdale about 20 years ago. “It has been a treasure.”
Milani was buying a piece of Polish pottery.
“I have quite a collection,” Milani said.
She has brought her mother from Michigan and her sister to shop.
“It doesn’t feel like a store,” Milani said. “It feels like home.”
But Vojik is ready for the next chapter in her life.
“The first chapter was my childhood and education,” said Vojik, who grew up in Poland.
After coming to the United States, she got married and raised a family. Then she worked in the corporate world.
“I went from file clerk to a vice president position,” she said. “It was a lot of stress.”
Her husband suggested she do something that she liked. Vojik had gone to Poland to visit her parents, and brought back the only souvenirs she could find, handcrafted items, for her friends.
“I brought some wall hangings and table runners. My husband said, these things are beautiful, and that’s how it all started,” she said.
She returned to Poland to purchase pieces from local co-operatives and sold them at Market Square, a furnishings complex in High Point, North Carolina, where she had a showroom.
“In 1999, when they raised my rent, I started looking for a retail store,” said Vojik, who lives in Riverside. “I did my homework and decided Hinsdale was best. It was close to home and in an upscale community.”
At that time it was impossible to find space on the first floor, Vojik said. So she rented a second floor store at 49 S. Washington St. When the first floor space in the building became available, she moved downstairs.
“Business increased tenfold,” she said.
“I had a lot of Polish textiles and ceramics because of my roots.”
She kept adding merchandise from local artisans and moved again to a larger store at 14 W. Hinsdale Ave.
Vojik gives her employee of the past 10 years, Agnieszka Madry, credit for the beautifully arranged groupings of furniture, ceramics, artwork, candles and table linens.
The store carries Cocopa furniture made from recycled wood in Colorado, leather goods handmade in Kentucky, wind chimes and bird feeders from potter Hazel Olsen in Fresno, Calif., lamps made of natural or reclaimed materials in an Easthampton, Massachusetts studio, towels and table runners imported from Sweden and Sticks artwork.
Vojik’s favorite pieces are metal candle holders and wall hangings from artist Lisa Elias, who has a studio in Minneapolis.
“They are very well-tailored,” Vojik said.
She will miss the interaction with customers and artists, she said. But, she said, “this is a lot of work, I buy, sell, clean the windows and wash the floor.”
Her husband retired from a job that required a lot of travel. They look forward to spending more time together and living in Park City, Utah.
Vojik, who will continue to sell items online from her website, www.artquestgallery.com, is moving on to the fourth chapter in her life.