Randi Schwartz has good memories about her birthday, March 15. Pretty much every birthday, except one.
March 15, 2020.
Schwartz had recently moved her two-businesses-in-one, Raven & Dove Jewelry and Gifts, and the Porcelain Doctor china repairs, to Central Street after more than four decades in nearby Wilmette.
But by March 15, 2020, COVID-19 was starting to spread like wildfire, and on the 20th, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered the closing of all non-essential businesses to help fight the pandemic.
While things eventually opened back up, by then, many shoppers had modified their habits, buying things online, especially from the 800-pound marketing gorilla, Amazon.
“The world has changed,” Schwartz tells Evanston Now.
“Amazon and COVID have ruined it.”
And so Schwartz will retire, closing Raven & Dove and the Porcelain Doctor in a couple of months or so, following a sale to move the remaining merchandise.
Actually, Schwartz might have retired anyway, COVID and Amazon or not.
“I’ve been doing the same thing for 45 years, and it’s time to move along and try something else,” she says.
Changes in the market didn’t necessarily cause the retirement decision, but gave it a nudge in that direction.
Raven and Dove, the jewelry/gift/antiques portion of the business (in the front of the shop at 1810 Central), received its unusual name because Schwartz was called “Raven” in high school, thanks to her waist-long dark hair. The “Dove” portion is a slight modification of the Hebrew word “Dov,” which means David in English. That was Schwartz’s former husband.
The name “Porcelain Doctor” (in the back of the store) is a bit easier to figure out, with repairs and repainting done for porcelain, ivory, jade, and pottery.
“There are a lot of sentimental pieces” that customers bring in, Schwartz says.
While Schwartz’s businesses started in Wilmette, she’s been an Evanston resident for more than 40 years.
Things looked great on Central Street when she opened there in September, 2019.
With Ryan Field just down the street, Schwartz says thousands of fans (and potential customers) walked by her shop on football Saturdays.
But COVID, Amazon, and just time itself added up.
“Things are not as fabulous as when I moved the business here,” she notes.
But as someone who looks ahead, Schwartz does see a lot of positives in retirement.
Besides having the time to perhaps come up with a new career or hobbies, Schwartz says “all of my customers are my friends. Now we can go out to lunch!”