Based on a play by Miklos Laszlo and the 1940 film Shop Around the Corner, anonymous pen-pals work in a music shop and quarrel before discovering they are in love.
In Chicago about 1900 Andrew Larkin (Van Johnson) bumps into Veronica Fisher (Judy Garland) and ruins her clothes. Andrew is head salesman for Otto Oberkugen (S. Z. Sakall). Andrew reads a letter to Rudy Hansen (Clinton Sundberg). Veronica comes in and asks Andrew for a job. He says no, but she asks the owner Otto. She plays the harp that Andrew said would not sell. Veronica sings "Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland" and sells a harp.
Veronica tells Aunt Addie (Lillian Bronson) that she got a job and reads a letter. In a restaurant Andrew reads a letter too. He encourages violinist Louise Parkson (Marcia Van Dyke) to apply for a scholarship.
Nellie Burke (Spring Byington) advises Otto to send the harps back. Veronica sings "Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey" for a customer. Andrew and Veronica write letters at home. Andrew tells Rudy that he is meeting his pen-pal for dinner. Nellie declines a date with Otto, and he says all must stay late for inventory. Veronica gets upset at Andrew. Nellie tells Otto that she has no one else, and he tells all to go home.
Veronica and Andrew get dressed. He looks in the window and sees it is Veronica; so he leaves. Louise tells Andrew she has an audition. Veronica waits, and Andrew comes in without his carnation. He says she is mean to him, and they quarrel.
Veronica stays home, and Andrew visits her during lunch. She takes care of a baby. Aunt Addie brings a letter that cheers up Veronica. Nellie and Otto are engaged and have a party. Veronica goes with Hickey (Buster Keaton). Andrew wants a raise, and Otto asks him to carry his violin. Nellie does not want Otto to play. Louise sees the Stradivarius and takes it to her audition.
At the party a quartet sings "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie." Otto asks Andrew for his violin, and Andrew borrows Louise's. Veronica and the quartet sing "Play That Barbershop Chord." Then Veronica sings "I Don't Care." Hickey trips and smashes the violin. Andrew tells Otto that it was not his violin, and he goes to hear Louise play. Otto arrives with a cop. Louise thanks Otto and tells Andrew she won. Veronica sees them.
Otto tells Nellie to pay Andrew, and she asks Otto to give Andrew a reference letter. Otto asks Andrew to give his violin to Louise, and he makes Andrew manager. Andrew tells Veronica the news and says he can get married, but they quarrel again. Veronica sings "Merry Christmas." Hickey tells Andrew that Veronica is in love with him. Andrew tells her he talked to her fiancé and implies he is fat, bald, depressed, and unemployed. Andrew tells Veronica that he loves her and reveals that he wrote to her. She kisses him. In the final scene they are shown with a child.
This musical version of the romantic comedy contrasts
the conflicts in the working world with the imaginative realm
of poetry as two people display contrasting personalities in person
and in their writing.