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Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.

Two Bostons Pet Boutique & Gourmet Bakery, Naperville.

Two Bostons Pet Boutique & Gourmet Bakery, Naperville.

Two Bostons Pet Boutique & Gourmet Bakery

103 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville, (630) 357-7621, twobostons.com

Owners Andy and AdreAnne Tesene had absolutely no retail experience; Andy is a chemical engineer and AdreAnne is a speech pathologist.

So how did the pair become proprietors of a pet store? “We adopted two Boston Terriers, one with severe allergy problems,” AdreAnne says. “After much research, we were able to control them with proper diet. The more research we did, the more obsessed we became.”

With no preconceived ideas, the couple decided to open the kind of store they, as pet owners, would want. Its two floors are packed with food, treats, toys, beds, leashes, collars, grooming aids, vitamins and gifts for dog and cat lovers.

Among grain-free wet and dry brands are Merrick, Tripett, Call of the Wild and Petcurean. Raw food brands include Stella & Chewy’s, Primal, Tucker’s Selects and more. Treats range from grain-free snacks to Yak Milk Chews, naturally shed elk antlers and bakery items.

Often the first to be greeted, Two Bostons’ four-legged customers are lavished with attention and offered treat samples. “We love being in business in pet-friendly Naperville, and we have a very passionate staff,” AdreAnne says. “We want to make sure all pets get everything good.”

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Ethereal Confections, Woodstock

Ethereal Confections, Woodstock

Ethereal Confections

203 Main St., Woodstock, (815) 575-9315, etherealconfections.com

Foodies Sara Ervin and sister-in-law Mary opened their storefront in November 2011. They took many cooking classes together over the years, and after attending a chocolate academy in Chicago, says Sara, “The timing was just right.”

Everything is gluten- and dairy-free and made fresh on-site, from original recipes. “We use only organic ingredients and no preservatives,” says Sara. “We use only dark chocolate, and we temper it ourselves.”

Custom confections include chocolate bars topped with goodies like pistachios & cranberries or strawberries, and rose petals & pink peppercorns; dark chocolate chunks bursting with flavors like candied lemon peel and thyme & poppyseed; squares of chocolate with natural flavors like vanilla and peppermint; all infused with flavored olive oils for creamy smoothness.

The truffles are even more intriguing. “We looked at traditional flavors and gave them a twist,” Sara says. The Asian-inspired Open Sesame pairs fresh ginger with sesame oil and tahini. Namaste mixes coconut oil, apricots and mangos with coriander, cumin and cardamom, all rolled in toasted coconut. Caramel Inferno fuses fresh caramel with ghost and habeñero chilis and smoked sea salt.

The sisters-in-law already have an established wholesale market and also do a brisk online business. Hours: Tues.-Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. to 4 p.m.

Rediscover-Records-Elgin

Rediscover Records, Elgin

Rediscover Records

207 E. Chicago St., Elgin, (847) 961-8445

Digital, schmigital – vinyl is making a comeback. Owner Rich Wagner, a music lover, foresaw the resurgence and acted on it, renting a space inside Two Doors Down, an eclectic antique/vintage store owned by Ray Maxwell.

“I started in June 2010 with a few hundred records, and I have more than 1,000,” says the former restaurant chef. Wooden shelves and racks of recycled McHenry County barn wood hold recordings of jazz, rock, pop, country, classical, indie, jazz, children’s recordings, musicals, film scores and more, in 33, 45 and 98. Nostalgic Wagner also has many new vinyl reissues, from Peter Frampton and Fleetwood Mac to Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins.

“The new stock isn’t only reissues, though,” he points out. “We’ve got current artists, too – Taylor Swift’s Red, Amy Winehouse’s Lioness, Of Monsters and Men. The recording industry is recognizing vinyl again.”

Wagner buys and trades records, keeps a list of wants for customers, and carries turntables, cleaning supplies, record sleeves and more.

Hours: Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Mon.-Wed., Fri. to 6 p.m.; Thurs. to 8 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. ❚

The Buddha Bean, Cary

The Buddha Bean, Cary

The Buddha Bean

77 W. Main St., Cary, (847) 829-4638 thebuddhabean.com

This “Tea & Coffee Garden,” in a corner shop across from the Metra station, is a welcome oasis for locals and travelers alike, for coffee, tea and fruit smoothies.

Owner Sandra Knight has created a bright, roomy and inviting space. Early visitors can get muffins or pancakes for breakfast, and midday customers will find fresh sandwiches, made from original recipes.
Coffee lovers will find a variety of gourmet blends, whole bean and ground, sold by the pound or cup. Loose teas from around the world are also offered.

Knight stocks French coffee presses, tea infusers, home décor, body lotions, artisan jewelry, fashion accessories, crystals and more.

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 5:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Sun. 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

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