Raven and Dove owner — aka the Porcelain Doctor — calls it a career after 45 years in Wilmette, Evanston
Randi Schwartz says it’s time to go.
And she is not just talking about closing her 45-year-old local business.
“When you have a shop, as a single owner, you are here,” Schwartz said, “and you don’t do anything, you don’t go anywhere.”
In an effort to change that, Schwartz announced her retirement, making the end of her gift shop, Raven and Dove, and repair business, Porcelain Doctor, both of which operated for four decades in Wilmette before relocating to Evanston, 1810 Central St., in 2018.
A native of the South Side, Schwartz moved to the northern suburbs with her family after high school. She opened Raven and Dove in 1978 at Wilmette’s Lake Avenue and Green Bay Road and moved it in 1998 to Greenleaf, just east of Poplar Drive.
Facing rising rents, she said, four years ago Raven and Dove moved a few blocks south to Evanston, where it has enjoyed its final years.
“When we moved, it couldn’t have been more fabulous,” said Schwartz, an Evanston resident who turns 70 years old in March. “A lot of people walk up and down this street.”
In its beginnings, Raven and Dove focused on antiques and unique finds, but Schwartz pivoted with the times, and the shop began to carry more gift items, such as jewelry, candles, tablewares, graphic towels and socks, and much more.
The COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020 and altered consumer habits, as more shoppers got used to making purchases from home. The change gave Schwartz more evidence that it was the right time to consider retirement.
Aside from running Raven and Dove, Schwartz is also known as the Porcelain Doctor — the premier local specialist in pottery, ivory, vase and, of course, porcelain repair who restores damaged keepsakes and treasures with unrivaled skill.
Schwartz said while many customers have asked if she can keep serving as the Porcelain Doctor, that side of her business was the most stressful.
“I always had more than enough to do, but I’m going to give that up. It’s just time,” she said. “I’m happy not to have all the responsibility. It’s very hard work.”
Because the restoration work is so niche, Schwartz plans to offer customers referrals and is in the midst of doing research on other repair specialists.
She said Raven and Dove will remain open through March, as she works on clearing inventory and furniture from her space.
When that is done, Schwartz plans to visit her sister in California, where she has not been in at least nine years. But she doesn’t plan to forget about her Raven and Dove community.
“I loved being here and love the people. I miss some of the Wilmette girls, but they all made it (to the shop),” she said. “All my customers are pretty much my friends. I love these people and I will miss that. But now we’ll just be doing lunch instead — now that I will be able to go to lunch.”
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Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319