Check out these unique stores from around our region
The Running Depot
30E N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, (815) 788-9755, therunningdepot.com
Long-time runner Pam Andrews opened her shop in 2002, as a way to pass on her passion for the sport.
The store carries top shoe brands like Saucony, inov-8, Mizuno, Newton and Asics, and a full line of clothing from SUGOI, CW-X, Nike and more. Find socks from Thorlo and WigWam, GU Energy Gel and PowerBars, hydration packs, blister cream, shoe inserts, cold-weather gear and training aids.
“We have all of the major retail brands, plus all of the service,” says Andrews. Shoes are fitted using Aetrex foot scanning technology that measures arch and pressure points. Customers walk barefoot so that staff can analyze gait, and can “test drive” shoes on the store’s treadmill before purchase. She also has a staff of experienced runners who can be hired as coaches, and offers the Junior Zephyr Training Team for youngsters in grades 7-8.
Andrews hosts “Fun Runs,” of varying lengths, each Saturday at 7:30 a.m., for anyone who wishes to participate. “We also sponsor or take part in more than 20 local races annually,” she says.
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. to 6 p.m., Sun. to 4 p.m.
Brackett & Company
13 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights, (847) 873-1250, brackettandcompany.com
In 2006, Lincoln Brackett and Tim Heck opened a home decor store in Douglas, Mich.
Brackett had been working at a flower shop, and Heck was teaching music in the school district, when they decided to fulfill Brackett’s dream of running his own business. In May 2013, the Arlington Heights natives expanded their small company. “We saw a niche in our hometown for a place to find small, affordable accent pieces,” Heck says.
Find chairs, tables, lamps, seasonal decor, wall decor and tabletop accents, some women’s clothing and accessories, candles and bookends, linens and throw pillows, and items from local artists.
“We buy from small boutique companies and suppliers, to bring in merchandise that isn’t available everywhere,” Heck says. With all of its wares, Brackett’s is especially popular for its variety of pillows and lighting options. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, Heck and staff will hunt it down for you.
Rather than putting everything in rows and on shelves, merchandise is displayed in small vignettes. “We try to allow people to visualize the grouping in their homes,” says Heck.
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri.-Sat. to 9 p.m.
Grassroots Clothing & General Store
211 Park Ave., Barrington, (224) 655-2344, grassrootsbarrington.com
Owners Todd and Joy Rhodes wanted to create a place in their hometown like the old-fashioned general stores. These weren’t only one-stop shops for the basic necessities, but also gathering places for the community.
“We started three years ago, with a clothing store just around the corner on Cook Street,” says Todd. “We moved in here in May, where we could open the food side and put the clothing in another room.”
The couple focus on regional products and local talent: vodka made in Evanston, bloody Mary mix from Wilmette, cheese puffs from Wild Asparagus in Barrington. Customers will find everything from candy, beverages and barbecue and hot sauce, to paper towels, ketchup and handmade soaps.
Clothing brands for the entire family include Scrapbook, Fender and Earth Ragz, along with wearable items, bags, hats, scarves, leather belts and cuffs, jewelry and other accessories made by local artisans.
On the walls are vintage concert posters from a local collector and original local art featuring rock stars like Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Marley and The Beatles. The Rhodes’ also encourage local talent, whether it’s artists working in the basement or local musicians playing on the stage in back. Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. to 2 p.m.
Pieceful Gathering Quilt Shop
106 Northwest Highway (U.S. 14), Fox River Grove, (847) 516-7911, piecefulgathering.com
From a renovated turn-of-the-century farmhouse, owners Carrie Quinn and daughter Katie Reed specialize, fittingly, in reproduction fabrics – that is, re-created prints from Colonial times through the 1950s.
“We focus on traditional American from the 1800s, and some primitive with wool applique,” says Quinn. “We also stock some popular early 1930s prints.” She also carries her own line of original prints and quilt patterns, and the shop has been a featured shop in Better Homes and Gardens’ Better Quilting.
A quilter for about 30 years, Quinn decided to give up her bookkeeping job in a law firm to open the business. When her partner backed out, daughter Reed, a teacher, joined her.
Pieceful Gathering stocks a full line of notions, patterns and books, and as a lover of all things old, Quinn also sells sewing-related vintage and antique items, such as old sewing machines and porcelain doll heads that top pin cushions.
The shop has a large workroom, where clubs meet and classes are held. Customers can even use the space for their own projects. A longarm quilting machine upstairs, used for adding the finishing touches, makes Pieceful Gathering a full-service shop. “We want to be a friendly place where everyone feels at home,” Quinn says.
Hours: Tues.-Wed. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Thurs-Fri. to 5 p.m., Sat. to 4 p.m.