Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Love to the letter

They fell in love through the mail. Through thoughtful, carefully crafted notes. Through confessional exchanges that took hours to create, and days to arrive. Through the curlique, cursive loops that unveiled clues to their personalities and echoed details of their pasts.

She was a record-store clerk in Minneapolis. He was a poet and film student in New York, and the former drummer of a post-punk band in Washington, D.C. The band went on to influence nearly every "next big thing." It was a time when "emo" wasn't a dirty little word. And a time when it was actually post-ironic to joke that Al Gore was the architect of the information superhighway. (The joke was so old it was actually funny again, like remembering when JC Penney carried "grunge" wear.)

But Kimberly Yurkiewicz and Zach Barocas, co-owners of gift and card shop Letterbox, eschewed the instant gratification of email for the anticipation of the written letter. The two exchanged emails and letters, eventually got married, and last year they settled in Minneapolis, where their love of the letter inspired them to open Letterbox, one of the sweetest little spots on Hennepin Avenue.

Every pretty thing inside this elegant gift and card shop is touched with sweet love and creativity and anticipation and perfection and bits of hope. The Crane & Co. paper, the collection of graceful fountain pens, the handcrafted jewelry, the classic children's books, the high-design vases and bowls, the Japanese-garden-scented Trapp candles, the letterpressed boxes and illustrative invitations--they're all like those dreamy promises whispered in sweetie-pie love letters that make your heart leap into your throat. But unlike those fleeting feelings, these idyllic visions can actually be cradled in the palm of your hand for safe keeping.

For Valentine's Day, Letterbox has the best cards and gifts this side of heartbreak. Not only do they have adorable little love-me-dos, but they also carry a line of love-me-nots and anti-Valentine's cards. Our favorite? A lovely little card with this typed warning across the front: I know you lied.

On February 3 and 4 the gift and card shop will hold an open house, where card lovers and lovers (and haters) of the heart alike can peruse their stock of wonderful creative goodies over champagne and truffles. So even if you're flying solo this Day of the Cupid, you're bound to find something here to mend any heart.


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