Located on Melrose’s bustling Main Street, Hourglass Gift Gallery has everything one could want from a small, community-minded business: local and U.S.-made gifts and jewel- ry, fine art at every price point, and frequent opportunities for patrons to buy pieces that benefit local and national charities.
Owner Lorrie DiCesare is something of a jack-of-all-trades: “I’ve always had my hand in something artistic,” she explains. After working in the insurance business for over 20 years and creating jewelry to fulfill her creative side, DiCesare felt it was time to turn her passion for art into a career. “I’ve always loved making art and buying art,” she says. “But I’m also entrepreneurial by nature. I thought that a small shop where we showcased local artists and products would be exactly what Melrose needed.” The shop’s first location opened in 1996, then moved to its current Main Street location in 1999.
DiCesare’s focus is the artists. “I’m constantly looking for new artists, locally and nationwide,” she explains. “I also go to juried art shows—partly because I enjoy them, and partly to see new artists’ work and get ideas for the shop. Each new artist adds something different—I don’t want any artist’s work to compete with the others.” DiCesare has created a cohesive space where different styles and talents can be showcased. “We have about 15 fine artists in the store,” she says. Local artists Tracy Levesque of Lowell, Debra Corbett of Melrose, and Diane Sawler McLaughlin of Saugus all frequently show their work at Hourglass.
“We’re also a popular destination for cards,” says DiCesare. Pen and ink artist Eli Helman, based in Easthampton, creates intricate, one-of-a-kind cards that draw customers. “Often people will come in for cards, and leave with a piece of art they didn’t even know they needed,” notes DiCesare. The shop’s bath products, textiles, two candle lines—Root Candles and ReWined—and functional pottery from four different potters all reflect the store motto: “For the home, body, and soul.”
Jewelry constitutes about three-quarters of the store’s sales, and it’s easy to see why. As a jeweler, DiCesare has a natural eye for what’s unique and affordable for a spectrum of budgets. Several locals feature prominently in the shop, including Waltham–based Snooty Jewelry, creator of affordable, cruelty-free Swarovski pieces. Nancy Roll of Wakefield creates enamel and metal works, and Jenne Rayburn, a Melrose resident, offers pieces made of mixed metals and semi-precious stones. Some of DiCesare’s artists supply only one or two items, while others, like Snooty Jewelry, have entire lines in the shop.
DiCesare also has her own line of organic enamels in the works. “I’ve taken a bit of a sabbatical the last few years, focusing on the shop,” she explains, “but I’m excited to start new pieces, and hopefully I’ll be selling them in the store.”
In addition to her artistic pursuits, DiCesare has created philanthropic opportunities, benefitting both the Melrose community and national causes. She hosts several shows a year, each of which showcases pieces from new artists and benefits a different charity. This year, 10 percent of the proceeds from the February Red Show went to the American Heart Association, along with the proceeds from a raffle of one of Diane Sawler McLaughlin’s paintings. With the April-May Recycle Show DiCesare hopes to “get the message out about recycling, and remind people how important sustainability is.” The store also donates gift certificates to the Melrose school system, and sponsors a Cat Show with cat-themed art whose proceeds go to the Humane Society. “For me, it’s about karma,” says DiCesare. “It feels wonderful to help different causes, and to give artists a chance to show others their work in the process.” hourglassgifts.com