Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.
117 W. Prairie St., Marengo, (815) 568-0590, hyperstitch.com
A few months ago, Sara White was just a regular customer at this Marengo embroidery specialist when owner Pat Lawlor made her an offer that was hard to refuse.
“My husband coaches softball, so I came in here to buy him a T-shirt and I started talking to Pat about how I needed a full-time job,” White says. “She called me three days later asking if I wanted to purchase the business.”
Lawlor had founded Hyperstitch 20 years before. Since then, she’d built a business whose specialty is custom logo wear was printed gear for companies, sports teams and individuals.
White figures it was her salesman-like personality, coupled with her MBA from Roosevelt University, that made her a natural fit for HyperStitch. She took over from Lawlor in January 2018.
“At the time, I was like, ‘This is crazy,’” White says. “Then I thought, People just don’t drop a business in your lap like this. I was also afraid that it would get sold to someone out of town, and I really wanted HyperStitch to stay local.”
Since assuming the business, White has continued HyperStitch’s efforts to use in-house embroidery and screen press machines to create custom designs for clients. The company’s technology works for T-shirts, baby blankets, even golf bags, and is often used to create spirit wear and branded gear.
Parents, students and fans of area schools often purchase spirit wear in HyperStitch’s small showroom, where blank shirts and items like coffee mugs await a custom imprint.
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-noon.
The Bike Rack
2930 Campton Hills Dr., St. Charles, (630) 584-6588, thebikerack.com
When Hal Honeyman took over a St. Charles-area bike store nearly 43 years ago, he carried only a vision and a passion for cycling. What he’s created has exceeded those expectations.
Today, The Bike Rack carries a wide variety of bicycles – street, mountain, hybrid, recumbent – by a wide variety of top-name brands. Customers can also find an ample supply of equipment and accessories, as well as an extensive service department.
Avid cyclists also turn to The Bike Rack’s indoor training center, where they can ride all winter.
“We have as many as 250 people a week in here riding on CompuTrainers,” Honeyman says. “You put your bike on it, hook it up to a computer and it gives you a customized workout based on your fitness level.”
Honeyman’s son Jacob, who has cerebral palsy resulting from a premature birth, has been a big influence on the company. Honeyman is the founder of Creative Mobility, which builds adaptive bicycles for people with disabilities. He launched its cousin, Project Mobility, to fund adaptive bikes for families.
“We have products that allow people who are in a wheelchair or have a physical limitation to get them riding and engaged in the community,” Honeyman says.
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Kate Marker Interiors
209 Park Ave., Barrington, (224) 848-4322, katemarkerinteriors.com
Kate Marker has always tapped into her creative side, but once she became a mother, it took on a new form.
In 2007, she left the firm she worked for, set up a desk in her home and launched an interior design service. Word-of-mouth spread fast, and referrals quickly increased to the point where she outgrew her home. In 2012, she established a design studio in downtown Barrington.
“Even as the economy slowed several years ago, the business bucked the downtrend and continued to expand,” Marker says.
In 2017, Marker added more room vignettes to her showroom, so clients and the general public could see even more ideas for furnishings, vintage rugs, fabrics, throw pillows, artwork and lighting.
Marker’s full-service design firm can handle everything from custom design/build homes to remodels, and everything in between.
Marker’s team of six separates itself by working with a mixture of curated modern and vintage pieces, along with rich textures and finishes, examples of which you can find in the showroom.
“We are grateful for numerous inquiries to our services, and we select our projects carefully to ensure a fit for us and our clients,” Marker says.
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
401 W. Main St., Genoa, Ill., (815) 784-4334, latsisbakery.com
John and Nichole Latsis have found success in combining their love for baking and artistry.
“I always knew I wanted to do something with art to make money, and I always loved sweets,” Nichole says.
The pair opened their bakery four years ago in downtown Genoa and have built a loyal following for baked goods such as cookies and cake pops, as well as breakfast items such as coffee, fresh donuts and pastries. Early risers especially enjoy the couple’s homemade breakfast sandwiches and biscuits and gravy.
Nichole’s specialty is custom cakes, which are available on request.
“We started making cakes when we had kids,” Nichole says. “John started making cakes, and I decorated for him. From there, friends, family and people we didn’t know wanted cake. We realized there were too many people who wanted cake, and we needed to open a place.”
She says it’s her family’s ability to craft inventive custom cakes and fresh pastries that separates Latsis Bakery from competitors.
“We’ve made fidget spinner cakes that actually spin,” Nichole says. “A lot of people can’t attempt what we do here. Our cakes are unique, and that helps us stand out.”
Hours: Tues.-Wed. 6 a.m.-noon, Thurs.-Fri. 6 a.m.-4 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 6 a.m.-noon