Discover these unique stores that remain off the beaten path
Wool, Warp & Wheel
5605 Mill St., Richmond, Ill. (815) 678-4063, woolwarpandwheel.com
This fiber-arts studio began as a Civil War sutlery – owners Rob and Penny Cetner created period-crafted items for re-enactors.
The Cetners expanded their line to include the materials and tools they used. Inevitably, they started to give instruction – all out of their home in Spring Grove. Eventually, the Cetners decided they needed a storefront, so they sold their house and bought the building in Richmond.
Now, they sell yarn for knitting and weaving, fiber and rovings, rug-braiding supplies, looms and spinning wheels, spindles and accessories, patterns and books on weaving and fiber trends. Customers can also buy finished artisan products such as felt hats, felted purses, shawls, wool socks, handmade baskets and hand-woven rugs and scarves.
Classes are held regularly from September through April. All year round, Sundays are “Open Workshop” days, and people are encouraged to bring in their projects to work on.
“We all hold regular jobs during the week, so that we can do this,” says daughter Spring Evans, manager. Hours: Tues.-Fri., 7- 9:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. ❚
Lucy & Ethel’s/Nifty 50’s
325 Old McHenry Road, Long Grove (847) 478-1932
The most striking feature in this fun, eclectic shop is the center display counter: half of a 1955 Chevy Bel Air.
Located in an historic house in picturesque Long Grove Village, the store has a split personality. On one side, Lucy & Ethel’s, the flagship, opened 12 years ago and features casual women’s apparel, purses, jewelry and accessories. A big Lucille Ball fan, owner Jacquie Longeway named the store after watching an episode of “I Love Lucy.”
Clothing lines include Kokamo and Avalin; purses are from Murval and Tosca; there are Geneva watches and Alex Carol earrings.
The other side, Nifty 50’s, offers memorabilia from TV, music and Hollywood: Three Stooges, Marilyn Monroe, The Rat Pack, Elvis, the Beatles and more. Licensed products include mugs, lunch boxes, clocks and T-shirts, as well as movie posters, tin signs and porcelain figures. Longeway also sells vintage items, like an old metal Pepsi cooler, vinyl records, even a metal kitchen table with linoleum top and vinyl-padded chairs.
The two stores are a perfect meld. Hours: Mon.-Thurs. & Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri. to 9 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. ❚
Made Just for You
338 W. State St., Sycamore, (815) 895-8122, madejustforyougifts.com
In this world of mass production, it’s nice to know that there are still places to find quality, handcrafted goods. Proprietors Ken and Marcia Elliott bought this business in 1994.
About 50 to 60 crafters display their wares. Rather than having separate booths, however, everyone’s items are displayed together.
“We have themed areas, like bath or kitchen, patriotic, pets,” says Ken. Shoppers can find slippers, hats and children’s clothing; afghans, quilts and blankets; greeting cards; doll clothes; wooden shelves and bookcases – all handmade. Some manufactured items like candles are available, but everything is American-made.
“It’s important to our customers to stock things made in the U.S.A.,” says Ken. “It’s also valuable to showcase the talent of our local crafters.” Because they’re local, items are easily customized.
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., Sat., 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Fri. to 6 p.m.; Sun.: June-Aug., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; March-May, Sept.-Dec., 12:30-4:30 p.m. ❚
Lil’ j’s Bohemia: A Grateful Shop
124 S. Main St., Naperville, (630) 428-9559, liljsbohemia.com
ive years ago, owner Jill Rigby was working as a bookeeper. Now she’s the owner of a niche store that sells items related to the rock band The Grateful Dead as well as handmade, artisan-crafted merchandise.
“I always thought that opening a store would be fun,” she says. “I was making other life changes at the time, so I went for it.”
Merchandise is new with a vintage feel. “I try to provide unique, unusual items that support local artisans and are made with a conscience,” Rigby says. Most are made locally or come from fair trade suppliers. Grateful Dead and other music apparel and merchandise, gems and incense are offered alongside hand-done, tie-dyed clothing; tapestries; beaded and hemp jewelry and purses.
“I get items from a glass blower in Downer’s Grove, and I just got in some bracelets from a local artist who makes them out of old vinyl records,” says Rigby.
Peasant blouses with bell sleeves and colorful skirts seem straight out of the 1960s and ’70s. “The quality of the fair trade clothing I get is amazing,” says Rigby. “They use hand blocking rather than machinery, and there’s never a raw edge.”
Supporting fair trade is important to Rigby. “When you buy fair trade, you’re doing a great service,” she says.
Hours: Tues.-Wed., noon-7 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Sun. noon-5 p.m. ❚