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Monday, May 20, 2024

Birds of a Feather

Gray family encourages a personalized shopping experience at their East Side store.

At Rare Bird Uncommon Gifts, rows of jewelry sit near leather goods and wind chimes sourced from women-owned businesses, fair trade vendors, and independent makers. Customers can shop for unique gifts and Evansville-themed items, browse for something special, pick up locally roasted coffee, or just chat with the owners.

Rare Bird Uncommon Gifts is a creative outlet for Cary and Michael Gray.
Rare Bird Uncommon Gifts is a creative outlet for Cary and Michael Gray. Photos by Zach Straw.

The 2022 “Best of Evansville” award-winning gift shop, located at 2605 Lincoln Avenue, is a mom-and-pop (and daughter) boutique. Olivia Wright, daughter of owners Cary and Michael Gray, says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Having a family business has brought us closer together,” she says. “It’s great to work alongside them. I like having him (Michael) as my dad and my coworker — he’s like a ‘dad boss.’”

Michael has owned the East Side building for his photography studio for more than 20 years. About seven years ago, the family wanted to branch out and turned part of the studio into a gift shop. They started with fun small things, like soaps and socks, and now, the shop supports hundreds of makers. Michael still does some photography, primarily headshots, commercial, and family portraits.

Cary and Michael Gray's Daughter, Olivia Wright
Cary and Michael Gray’s Daughter, Olivia Wright.

The physical space evolved to become open and colorful, inviting more customers and connecting local dollars with the community. Besides stocking unique products, helping customers find the perfect gift, and offering free wrapping, Rare Bird’s goal is to make people happy.

“People often come in to cheer themselves up and recharge, often by looking at funny greeting cards,” Olivia says. “People are welcome whenever; even if you’re just having a bad day, we’ll get you a cup of coffee.”


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Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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