Card-carrying gifters

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Masquerade masks framed by bright feathers ready for this weekend's HighBall have been drawing in passersby since Maotef Gifts opened at the beginning of September.

And when the store owners put dragon- and sci-fi-themed figurines in the window of the Short North shop, "people went crazy," said co-owner Todd Fry, who's always wanted to open a gift shop.

A display filled with thank you, happy birthday and congratulations greeting cards has also proven a destination for Short North shoppers, who don't seem to have many other local options, Todd said.

He and co-owner Marc Offenburger filled the rest of the narrow store's space with all nature of giftables: candles, frames, vases, wind chimes, seasonal pieces and jewelry like charm bracelets, belly-button rings and necklaces.

Among the wide assortment, two things are true: The shop doesn't take itself too seriously, and it's eager to appeal to everyone.

That's most clear on the Christmas card rack, where designs with traditional nativity scenes and phrases about baby Jesus sit next to cartoon-illustrated cards topped with lewd references to Rudolph.

"One girl who was in here earlier, she's like, 'Oh, you have a little bit of everything.' You know, there's religious-traditional and over-the-top," laughed Offenburger, who called the store's selection "eclectic."

On the family-friendly side, there's also bouncy balls, Wizard of Oz stuffed animals and OSU offerings that include hats, purses, bracelets and key chains. Offenburger's mother pours and paints the variety of ceramic figurines for sale, including some shaped like cats, owls and Halloween scarecrows.

Locally made seasonal wreaths will be in stock soon for the holidays, he said.

And in much the same spirit as What the Rock?!, which occupied Maotef's space before moving down the street, Fry and Offenburger have baskets of buttons at the checkout for shoppers to pick through. Although they're not made in-store, some have an Earth-friendly message, like "Green is the new black."

Maotef Gifts