Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.
Fantasy Festival Costume/Magic Centre
901 Cary Road, Algonquin, (847) 658-2000, fantasyfestival.com
For 38 years, owners Bernice and Ronald Ferraro have been supplying costumes, prosthetics, theatrical-grade makeup, special effects supplies and expertise to local theatre troupes, high school drama departments, professional performers and other creative types.
“When our kids were small, we were both involved in local theater,” explains Bernice. “I sew, and Ron is good with scenery and props. After Ron lost his job, the business kind of evolved, and we’ve built it up to this.”
This is NOT a Halloween shop. Its 3,500 square feet (not including the basement) are crammed with quality costumes for sale and rental, from clothing to full costumes with oversized heads, from famous people and cartoon characters to animals. Find realistic-looking swords, shields, helmets and breastplates; wigs to transform you into Cher, Elvis or a Rastafarian; fake teeth, claws, ears; full masks; Dorothy’s ruby slippers; Egyptian headpieces – everything the actor, cosplayer or Comic Con devotee could want.
The basement is outfitted with a giant costume carousel, similar to what dry cleaners use, which keeps costumes sorted and delivers them from the basement for perusal.
“It’s always more fun in costume,” says Bernice, with a smile.
The shop also carries magic tricks and supplies for all skill levels, along with professional-grade makeup and balloons for twisting into shapes, and expert staff can demonstrate uses. Everything in the store is available online.
Hours: Mon.-Wed., Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs. to 8 p.m.; Sat. to 4 p.m.
19 N. Brockway St., Palatine, (847) 776-1555 facebook.com/pages/Foxglove-Cottage
Owner Peg Schroth and her husband often frequented this store when it first opened, so when it came up for sale, she decided to buy it.
Now, after 16 years in the same location, Schroth has built a base of loyal regulars, due largely to the nature of her merchandise. “Originally, it was mostly garden and seasonal items, which was why we loved shopping here,” she says. “After I bought it, I gradually brought in a few other lines.”
“A few” is an understatement. This cozy shop’s colorful displays are jam-packed with nifty items. Baby gifts of receiving blankets; wall hangings; ceramic banks; plush animals; resin, porcelain and paper-mâché-style figurines. Cheese boards and knives; decorative sets of stainless steel picks for serving cheese; unique salt & pepper shakers; bottle stoppers; locally crafted jewelry and scarves; spiritual gifts; greeting cards. Lines include Ganz, Crabtree & Evelyn, and Woof & Poof.
“We’re best known for our seasonal items,” says Schroth. “There’s always something new.”
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. to 5 p.m.
10 Douglas Ave., Elgin, (224) 223-7718, soulfulsparrow.com
his eclectic boutique offers a fascinating array of vintage and repurposed items for home decor and gift-giving, handmade jewelry and repurposed estate jewelry, and several upscale lines of women’s clothing, bags and shoes.
Partners Mary Pierce and Judy Walsberg relocated their downtown St. Charles business to their hometown of Elgin in June 2012. “We like everything that the city is doing on the riverfront, and we thought Elgin was hungry for a store like this,” says Pierce.
The pair finds creative ways to repurpose their merchandise: An old metal-caged fan is a display for photos using clothespins; a paint-spattered wooden ladder is a shelving unit. Lamps, wall hangings, old frames, vintage sewing machines, mannequin forms and more are for sale.
They also carry high-end women’s clothing, from makers such as FLAX and Avatar Imports, and handcrafted leather shoes from Bed Stü.
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. to 4 p.m.
Lorraine’s Memories: Scrapbooking & More
110 N. Benton St., Woodstock, (815) 308-5881, facebook.com/LorrainesMemories
Veteran scrapbooker Kathleen Benson opened her shop on historic Woodstock Square on Jan. 14, 2008. “It wasn’t just about the scrapbooking, but the Square,” she says. “My husband and I used to walk here on snowy winter nights, and there’s just something magical about it.”
She named the store after her mother-in-law. “She would tell a story and just captivate an audience,” Benson says. “That’s what scrapbooking is – telling a captivating story.”
Here’s everything needed for creating special cards, commemorative items or family chronicles: paper and card stock; die cutters; embossing tools; inks, glitter and embossing powders; rubber and acrylic stamps; embellishments; and more.
Crafters can get creative right in the store, through classes or programs. On Tuesdays and Fridays, enjoy drop-in, make-and-take projects, any time from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Participants receive 15 percent off project materials, as well as assistance in completing the greeting card or scrapbook page.
Benson even keeps the store open late for what she calls “Crop Sessions,” and folks can come in to work on any type of project, not just scrapbooking. “We need to connect more, share stories and create tangible memories,” she says.
Classes, special events and crafting times are posted on Facebook. Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. to 5 p.m., Sun. noon-4 p.m.