An irresistibly cheery Care Bears pop-up from local Japanese-style ice cream shop Kurimu bounced into Chicago over the weekend, offering locals a much-needed antidote to the post-winter doldrums in the form of colorful soft serve in themed flavors, cuddly collab merchandise, and nostalgic decor. The pop-up, which launched on Saturday, is set to run through July at Kurimu locations in Wicker Park and Little Italy.
Kurimu’s tribute to the saccharine ’80s pop culture sensation is designed to make both longtime fans and novices feel like they’ve stepped into a Kingdom of Caring cafe, says owner Ming Ng. And it couldn’t have arrived at a better time: Chicagoans have been some rather Grumpy Bears as of late — an understandable state of affairs, given the city’s unusually dark, gloomy April.
But the well timed debut, which coincides with the Care Bears’ 40th anniversary, is actually more of a happy accident. Ng says he spent nearly a year hammering out licensing agreements and attending to every detail. “I liked Care Bears as a childhood thing — I think they’re cool,” he says. “I am always trying to make something fun at Kurimu, like switching up flavors to appeal to broader audience. Now we’re going beyond that.”
New flavors are, naturally, part of the equation. Patrons can try themed combinations including the Care Bear Stare (purple yam, jackfruit, and coconut), Love-A-Lot Strawberry, and Funshine Pineapple Swirl as they plumb piles of plush bears, peruse branded t-shirts and tote bags, and pose for Instagram photos beside colorful custom wall decals.
For Ng, this high-profile collaboration is just the beginning. Kurimu aims to open its third location (and first in the Chicago suburbs) by early June at the Streets of Woodfield shopping mall in Schaumburg. He hopes to launch the Care Bears pop-up in that store as well, and is already concocting a similar Snoopy-themed event for all three shops for the Christmas season.
Explore Kurimu’s Wicker Park shop in all its Care Bear-d glory in the photos below.
Kurimu x Care Bears, May 7 through July, 1159 W. Taylor Street; 1632 W. Division Street.