Our History

Like many happy things, Clever Girl is a result of serendipity.  Three separate stores have been blended into one, and here we are... 

For the full story, you need to understand that selling runs through our veins:from the heather moors of Scotland all the way to the wonderful USA, our roots are in retail.  Take a quick trip with us, and we'll explain how it all came to be.

Set your time machine for Inverness, Scotland in the 1890's.  That's the year John and Annie Noble packed up all they owned and set sail for the United States.  They settled in Oak Park, Illinois, and opened a dry-goods store that was known in the community for their outstanding customer service and quality merchandise.  (Clarence Hemingway, father of Ernest, was a friend and neighbor and frequent shopper.)  Now, fast forward in your magic time machine to Hinsdale, Illinois, in the early 1970's.  It is here you will find John and Annie's granddaughter, Virginia, in a charming antique shop brimming with English pine tables, antique Windsor chairs, wall cupboards, and vintage lighting. 

Founded by Virginia "Jinny" McMillan, a tiny, basement level, antique shop in Hinsdale, Illinois called The Country Cousin was born.  Customers loved Jinny's mixture of vintage furnishings along with the best of American crafted merchandise; and the store soon outgrew its space.  Up on the main street, Country Cousin expanded into a darling yellow building, that had once been the local blacksmith shop.  She started first on one floor, and then expanded to the second.  More antiques filled the space, along with carefully selected handmade goods from across the USA.  (Although she would never tell you herself, Jinny's own homes have been featured in numerous publications, and her lake house in Michigan was featured as the cover story in Country Living.) Eventually, the name was changed to Abigail Rose.

In the mid-80's a second Abigail Rose location was opened in the resort town of Saugatuck, Michigan.  It offered a wonderful selection of items for the second home,as well as clothing and jewelry.  Fast forward to the 90's. Abigail's charming, sophisticated "sister store", Finnie McClure was opened just down the street in Hinsdale, and Jinny's daughter, Katie (that's me), officially joined the business. My earliest memories are of following my mother around antique stores and flea markets, and my dad expertly loading trailers full of vintage goodies.  I became familiar with color swatches and the odor of paint very early on. Finnie McClure offered jewelry, accessories and decorative objects, all displayed in antique cases under twinkling chandeliers.  A few more years flew by, and yet another store, French Toast arrived on the scene.  This store was styled after a Provincial boutique, and offered stylish clothing, and all sorts of French decor.  Each shop had it's own niche and offered only the finest and best merchandise to be found.  

In 2008, an amazing new space became available in the neighboring town of Western Springs, that would let all three stores come together under one roof, and Clever Girl was born. Thirty four years into it's retail evolution, Clever Girl remains a destination for women wanting a curated mix of clothing, jewelry, accessories, gifts and home décor that reflects their ideal of individuality and uniqueness.