Tucked behind South Washington Avenue, on the corner of Sixth and Center Streets, is a little shop called Elphie Elora. If you're a regular to Royal Oak's retail scene and can't picture this storefront in your head, that's because it opened its doors two and a half weeks ago. But, if you find yourself walking by, there's no way you can miss the baby blue and brown letters that spell out the store's name.
Inside you'll find a smorgasbord of what owner Kristen Hawley calls, "toys for adults that aren't adult toys." They range from finger puppets shaped like tiny hands to an "introvert notebook" emblazoned with the words "people to avoid." The store also carries a collection of quirky Christmas ornaments, which includes a bust of Charles Darwin and a creepy horse head that will remind you of The Godfather. There's hand-shaped hand soap, bigfoot luggage tags, a large selection of funny air fresheners (more bigfoot and horse heads there), Last Supper after dinner mints, and even some adorable knit headwear. There are funny socks (a pair featuring a taco-dinosaur hybrid was our favorite), voodoo dolls, coloring books, and other odd items that would serve equally well as gag gifts or stocking stuffers. In the back there's a big selection of Cellar Door soaps and candles, which, as always, smells amazing.
Hawley, who named her store after her Final Fantasy character, says she modeled her little boutique after a shop in Los Angeles called Wacko Soap Plant. When she and husband Tony Maisano noticed the space at 206 W.Sixth St., was vacant, they knew they wanted to open a version of the emporium of odd things close to home.
"Our tagline is going to be 'cool stuff for cool people,'" says Hawley, further describing the store as a quirky and kitschy collection of knickknacks and novelty items. "We're still getting lots of stuff in, especially for Michigan-based artists."
Hawley says she plans to hold small art shows from time to time, and the shop carries framed pieces by Robert Nixon and Glenn Barr.