Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.
149 N. Second St., DeKalb, (815) 758-5990, theconfectionary.com
At The Confectionary, in DeKalb, everything is hand crafted.
“We make all of our chocolate by hand,” says Betsy Hendrey, who owns The Confectionary with her husband, Todd. “We make everything the old fashioned way and the customers notice the difference. Some of our equipment is more than 100 years old.”
The candy shop has been serving customers in DeKalb since 1982. Todd’s parents started the business; Betsy and Todd took over in 2012.
“His parents had a very entrepreneurial spirit and they had a passion for chocolate and candy,” Hendrey says. “They built the business slowly at first and began adding more recipes over time.
There’s more to The Confectionary than just chocolate. Customers can use bags placed throughout the store to fill up on their favorite candies, such as Jelly Bellys, malted milk balls or various unique licorice products.
“Many companies purchase a caramel compound to make their caramel apples, but we make our caramel from scratch,” Hendrey says. “We put those personal touches on many of our products. We pride ourselves on our attention to detail.”
Anyone who is lucky enough to work at The Confectionary has the opportunity to eat all the candy they want.
“One of the best perks about working here is that we allow our staff to eat anything they want, free of charge,” Hendrey says. “We want our employees to know what everything tastes like so they can describe the products to customers.”
Hours: Mon.-Wed. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Thurs.-Fri. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat. 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m., Sun. 12 p.m.- 4 p.m.
McHenry Clock Co.
1216 N. Green St., McHenry, (815) 363-8963, theclockexperts.com
Nick Sedore isn’t an owner who sits behind a desk all day. Instead, he rolls up his sleeves and takes on the service calls at McHenry Clock Co.
Sedore, 70, has been running McHenry Clock Co. for more than 50 years. It’s one of the oldest clock shops for sales and repairs in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
“My customers deserve the best,” Sedore says. “We specialize in total restoration work and everything but dials is done in house. We do things the old fashioned way.”
Some clocks have to be taken apart to find the problem, while others just need some routine maintenance. Visitors can purchase a wide range of clocks, including grandfather and cuckoo clocks along with shelf and wall clocks.
“To this day, I still love doing what I do,” Sedore says. “The day this turns into a job, I’ll quit.”
McHenry Clock Co. also sells many brands, including Ridgeway, Howard Miller and Westminster.
“If you do quality work, you’re always sought after,” says Sedore, who served in the Vietnam War as a medic and corpsman. “Our customers arn’t just dollars and cents. They’re real people and they deserve the best clock repair we can give them.”
In 1995, Sedore was one of 12 entrepreneurs nationwide to appear in the Dunkin’ Donuts calendar.
“I was Mr. December,” Sedore says. “What an honor.”
Hours: Tues.-Fri., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In addition to McHenry Clock Co., Sedore also owns two other businesses: The Timepiece in Skokie, and he has a booth at the Roscoe Antique Mall in South Beloit, Wisconsin.
404 S. Third St., Geneva, (630) 232-4200, littletraveler.com
Mike Simon says he always meets a new family generation inside The Little Traveler.
“There isn’t a week that goes by where I’m not introduced to a new baby who is the third, fourth, or fifth generation to come to the store,” says Simon, owner of the store. “I love seeing these children grow up and bring their own kids.”
That’s one of benefits of running a 95-year-old store. Of those years, the Simon family has owned the business for 45 years.
“My dad, Sol, was running a successful group of women’s clothing shops in Geneva when the long-time manager for The Little Traveler contacted him,” Simon says. “She told him it was about to be sold to a group of Geneva industrialists. He had seen it falter in recent years under corporate ownership, and he took it as a personal challenge to bring it back up to the level he remembered.”
Located inside a 150-year-old, 36-room Victorian house, the Little Traveler has something for everyone, including gourmet foods and wine, women’s clothing, a year-round Christmas shop, a floral conservatory, and kitchenware, among other things.
After shopping for hours, guests can relax in The Atrium Café, with a menu that includes savory entrees and sweet treats for dessert.
“When my dad bought the store, it had 12 rooms,” Simon says. “It is now 36 rooms and we are always changing things around. We want every visit to be a fun, new experience.”
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. to 5:30 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hugs & Mugs Gift Shop & Cafe
2350 W. Higgins Road, Hoffman Estates, (847) 885-6149
Hugs & Mugs Gift Shop & Cafe is more than a place that sells keepsake mugs, gelato and smoothies. It’s a business for residents with Down syndrome to call their own.
Hugs & Mugs gives Down syndrome adults the opportunity to operate a live retail store.
The café is part of GiGi’s Playhouse, a network of achievement centers serving children and young adults with Down syndrome.
South Barrington native Nancy Gianni started the organization 12 years ago. Her mission began when her child GiGi, 13, was born with Down syndrome.
“A mom with a new baby started this and it has taken off,” says Kristin Malek, Chief Operating Officer of GiGi’s Playhouse. “Hugs & Mugs is one of the programs out of GiGi’s Playhouse.”
Since 2014, Hugs & Mugs Gift Shop and Café has been offering keepsake mugs and other gift items designed by adults with Down syndrome. They oversee all aspects of the store and lead the mug design and production process.
The store gives these adults a chance to grow their skills, confidence and achievements while working in a live store. It also help them learn to work, grow and prosper, Malek says.
In addition to handmade mugs, they also serve lavazza espresso, gelato, milk shakes and smoothies.
Hours: Tues.-Fri. 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.