Best new gift shop to be yourself in—without judgment

Strapping Fit

Susan Stewart, owner of Strapping Store.

Susan Stewart, owner of Strapping Store.


Susan Stewart opened Strapping Store last April Fool's Day, and it all makes sense. Just step inside and gander at the sort of trinkets this Oak Park gift shop sells: a baby-sized onesie with a guitar-rocking sloth who wears a baseball cap that reads “Slow Jams”; a soap dispenser with the words “Maybe You Touched Your Genitals”; a pillow boldly labeled “SAND.”

The shop isn’t shelved exclusively with products exhibiting Stewart’s brand of snark. And neither is its only goal to make you laugh. Stewart says she wants to create stress-free, nonjudgmental shopping.

“[My store] is for every dollar-point and every human—grandma, grandpa, 2-year-old,” Stewart says.

How else does she aspire to maximum comfort, aside from products with puns? The shop also stocks her gender-neutral clothing line, Strapping Fit, which includes masculine clothes for tinier frames.

“When people think of the word ’strapping,’ they think strong, big, capable, healthy men,” she says. “I thought it was funny, because my line is actually for smaller women.”

When Stewart started Strapping Fit last year, she says she wanted to fill a niche that she identified with. And with the store, she wanted to do away with a shopping experience that she felt was judgmental for people outside of the gender binary.

“I’m pretty androgynous,” she says. “I will wear men’s clothing, but I also wear makeup. I don’t have a problem wearing women’s clothing, either. But it should be just about how I’m feeling that day, not necessarily what society expects for me, so it’s kind of what my brand promotes.”

Her flannels, caps and ties are available in-store and online, and if that’s not for you, she says the store still can be.

“My ultimate goal is to have everyone feel comfortable in their skin.”

3405 Broadway,