Carrie Rengers

Love of Character paper, gift shop to open at Dockum building

Mary Billings is opening a new business, Love of Character, in the Dockum building at Douglas and Hillside. (May 23, 2016)
Mary Billings is opening a new business, Love of Character, in the Dockum building at Douglas and Hillside. (May 23, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

Accountant Mary Billings can get pretty creative – but not with numbers.

“I started a blog a couple years ago when I finished planning my wedding and needed something to keep me busy and creative,” Billings says.

Then she bought a house in College Hill and started doing projects.

Next came a friend’s bachelorette party. Billings wanted to do gift boxes. She says she had a hard time finding something affordable and discovered it was the same price to purchase 10 boxes as it was 100, so she purchased the bigger quantity and started doing gift boxes for others.

“The bachelorette thing was actually pretty popular for me.”

So then she put together an online store.

Now she’s opening a storefront – Love of Character – at the Dockum building at the northeast corner of Douglas and Hillside.

Billings will sell paper goods, greeting cards, party supplies and some gifts.

“It’s going to be similar to a Paper Source,” she says of the national company.

There will be an event space as well for parties, such as birthday parties for kids, and workshops, such as how to do calligraphy or gift wrapping.

The store will be in 1,800 square feet where Epic Apparel once was and where actress Kirstie Alley used to rent space as well.

Love of Character will have a soft opening in June. Initially, it will be open only on the weekends and by appointment.

There will be a grand opening in July.

The store’s gift line will include glassware, candles, makeup bags, Turkish towels and throws along with some pool floats, such as one in the shape of a giant swan, among other things.

For parties, Billings says she found a great supply company in New York.

“I really love throwing parties.”

She says she found a distinct greeting line, too.

“I have some really fun brands I work with.”

Billings says she wants everything she sells to have “kind of that extra touch.”

She says that’s what inspired her store name, too.

Just like for her home, Billings says, “It was just important for me to have some character.”

Look for store hours and a behind-the-scenes preview of Love of Character in a couple of weeks.

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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