Edge City, at the intersection of style and community

28 Dec

When Gunnel Humphreys and Tom McCleery first opened Edge City—the iconic 5 Points boutique that has fed the fashion appetites of a generation of young hipsters—bellbottoms and cork platform shoes were all the rage. The year was 1976, and Tom, recently laid off from a job in the steel industry, decided to invest his severance in a storefront in the Park Arcade Building that previously had been home to a head shop selling pipes, cigarette papers and waterbeds.

Their goal? To create a shopping experience that was totally unique and always on trend. And although Edge City’s inventory has varied through the years—evolving from vintage furniture to Foreign Legion underwear and Madonna crucifixes to today’s high fashion offerings—the couple’s vision for their store has remained consistent.

At today’s Edge City, you’ll find frilly, flirty dresses from Dollhouse, Vivienne Tam and Betsey Johnson, and brightly colored European offerings from Barcelona-based Desigual. Beautifully curated glass cases display sparkly Tarina Tarintino jewelry, Espe wallets and bags, bejeweled hair bands and combs, and funkalicious sunglasses. The atmosphere is vibrant and trendy and warm.

However, nothing captures the store’s personality better than the owners themselves. Gunnel’s neon pink hair is a familiar sight around Riverside, and Tom’s puppy-eyed features belie a wonderfully droll sense of humor. As active voices in the community and avid patrons of the arts, it’s also no surprise the couple are dedicated GoLOers. (Neither has ever stepped foot inside a Wal-Mart, Target or K-Mart. As Gunnel told a reporter, “Who needs a big box when my neighborhood supplies all my needs?”)

It’s Gunnel’s eclectic personal style that has kept the store on the cutting edge, and Tom’s willingness to take leaps of faith that has kept the doors open. But after nearly four decades in business, what this couple has built at 1017 Park Street is so much more than a retail establishment: Edge City is a bona fide institution.

This 5 Points landmark doesn’t just serve its funky, creative neighborhood—it personifies it.

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2 Responses to “Edge City, at the intersection of style and community”

  1. J. Allen December 28, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

    I remember sometime around 1980, I was probably 13 or 14 but this store so intrigued me that I wanted to check it out being the growing mind of a teenaged boy. Problem was, my mom worked directly across the street at a place called Akra Bros. She was the store manager and pretty much unbenounced to me, knew of all the going-ons in Fivepoints and alsiends to sneak me io at the time, very conservative. I got to get some friends to sneak me in there but somehow mom knew and tried to quiz me on my day. Of course I failed her tests and to this day I still don’t know how she found out. Ahhh the memories.

    • J. Allen December 28, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

      Sorry about the mis print half way through. I meant to say my mom was very conservative at the time.

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