Need a Party Gift? An Egg Slicer? A Perfect Pantry is the Place for You

February 22, 2012

By Teya Vitu

Amy Pike has a little of everything at A Perfect Pantry, especially if you're going to host or be the guest at a party.

A Perfect Pantry is one of those stores where you can’t help but smile.

Owner Amy Pike makes it a point to add an element of fun to every single item.

Take the rubber gloves in the kitchen section. They come in a variety of vibrant colors.

“You can have rubber gloves that make you smile because they are pretty,” Pike said on February 21, just a few hours after opening her doors for the first time at A Perfect Pantry, 21 East Congress Street.

Or check out the brooms, with woven handles and purple, pink and blue bristles.

Pike describes her brand new A Perfect Pantry as “a 21st century modern general store.”

What makes A Perfect Pantry perfect?

“Because it has everything you need to maintain a very interesting lifestyle,” Pike responded without having to think at all, as if she had a prepared answer to the “perfect” question. She said her answer was entirely spontaneous.

Just as she employs the term “general store,” she wants to revive a sense of propriety in entertaining.

“Bring a gift” is her mantra. “You need this store for personal use and for fun and to entertain and be entertained, to be a guest or to be a host or hostess,” Pike said.

Pike will help you be the perfect guest or perfect host.

“You got the cat lover in your life and she invites you for lunch,” Pike said as she lifts a dish towel adorned with cats and pronounces: “Perfect.”

She steps a few steps over and picks up netting in a cylinder shape.

“Bring a bottle of wine and stick it in a nice macramé bag, not a paper sack,” Pike said.

She even carries child hats: “because kids get left out.”

Need to throw an office party? Or toss together a quick party at home? You can equip yourself with party napkins and everything else at A Perfect Pantry.

A Perfect Pantry combines the sense of boutique with 19th century general store. The look and merchandise hearken boutique, but the disparate variety of what Pike offers is reminiscent of the general store of old.

“It’s not your same old, same old,” Pike said.

One wall has humorous greeting cards. A display rack is stacked with Melissa & Doug wooden toys. Another wall has kitchen tools, A glass case holds some rather artsy jewelry. “Every girl needs her bling,” Pike commented. In back, she has snacks and cold drinks in a 1940s General Electric refrigerator. Beyond the snack room, A Perfect Pantry will pretty much double in size when Pike adds antique furniture in March.

One thing you will notice about A Perfect Pantry is that Pike generally veers away from common brands.

“You will not find my stuff at Target,” Pike said.

Prices, however, are in league with the discount retailer.

“I will not price gouge,” Pike said.

She carries Sierra Brand teas, offers Farmer Brothers Gourmet Coffee (house blend, decaf or Hawaiian hazelnut) for $1.50 and $1.75 a cup, and has snacks. The snacks are more in the raisin and nut family than in the supermarket check-out stand chocolate and sweets.

“I’m trying to focus a little more on a healthier snack with veggie chips and granola bars,” Pike said.

A Perfect Pantry is an early entry in the next level of business openings beyond restaurants, nightlife and entertainment – businesses that can spare Downtown residents a drive to suburbia for household necessities.

“I think the urban lifestyle is coming back,” Pike said.

Pike moved to Tucson from the San Francisco Bay Area four years ago after a life in retail. She describes herself as semi-retired, but two-and-a-half years ago she opened up a much smaller version of A Perfect Pantry at Rincon Market.

“I would find so many fabulous things and I couldn’t fit it all in Rincon Market,” she said.

Pike knew she needed a bigger store. Location was a no-brainer for her.

“It was always Downtown,” Pike said. “People tried to talk me out of Downtown. Lots of people. I said ‘Have you been to Downtown lately?’ They would say, ‘No.’ If you ever want a Downtown again, you need to go Downtown.

“I heard about the TEP building and I saw the HUB (Restaurant and Ice Creamery) going in. I saw the science building (Rialto Exhibition Center) happening. I’ve always had a good nose. The time is right. I want to be part of the reason that Downtown is successful.”