Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.
Silver Prairie Soap
124 Cass St., Ste. 4, Woodstock, (815) 403-6931, silverprairiesoap.com
Annette Gast had never made soap before her family moved to a farm and began raising goats.
“It was all fun and games. Then, one of the goats was pregnant,” says Gast. “So, we had the goat milk. We were milking and learning about the goats. I made some cheese and then thought it would be fun to try to make goat milk soap.”
Though it was a struggle at first, Gast stumbled onto a unique new product, one that’s remarkably versatile and increasingly popular.
Her best seller is the large bath bar bearing a carved goat’s face, but she also sells natural shampoos, shave soaps, creams, lotion bars, body butters and scrubs all derived from the Gast family’s goats. Their milk makes each product mild and gentle on the skin. Gast also carries products made by local artisans, such as repurposed jewelry made from silver forks, spoons and typewriter keys.
“It’s just a fun little store where we sell our products and other products by locals,” says Gast. “Mostly everything is made in McHenry County. We’re just adamant about supporting local businesses, local artisans, selling earth-friendly items and using the least amount of packaging we can.”
Hours: Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Little Red Barn Door
227 S. Third St., Geneva, (630) 402-0072
This unique home decor business might be small, but it packs a lot of punch.
The Little Red Barn Door features rustic furniture, vintage kitchen items, architectural salvage and other home decor, including candles, blankets and signage.
The store has been open since 2017.
“We have sort of a rustic farmhouse look,” says Sylvia Torres, owner. “Since we have a small space, we change things up quickly and we add new inventory. We’ve gotten a really good response for just starting, and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Before she opened the store, Torres sold items she didn’t have any use for. To her surprise, people began purchasing things at a rapid pace.
“It blew up from there,” she says. “My husband told me I should open a store. We found this space, and it was perfect.”
Torres has no prior retail experience, so she’s running the store her way.
“I do giveaways every month, I give away goodie bags during special events and I give discounts,” Torres says. “Sometimes, if kids come in and they like certain things, I’ll gift them things. People think I’m very giving, but that’s how I am.”
Hours: Tues.-Wed., Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat. to 6 p.m.
Paw Lickin’ Good Treats
2684 DeKalb Ave., Sycamore, (815) 758-8300, pawlickingoodtreats.com
This pet bakery helps pet owners provide happiness and well-being for their dogs and cats.
The pet store opened in 2006 with the goal of selling pet food that doesn’t contain wheat, corn, soy, byproducts or fillers.
“We carry a wide variety of holistic foods for dogs and cats – mostly brands that are only available in independent stores,” says Jody Meerdink, co-owner with Carol Dean.
Some of the food comes from the in-house bakery, where the staff cooks up healthy treats for dogs.
Toys, leashes, collars and grooming products are also sold here. You’ll also find special supplements for body and dental care, such as injury aids and digestion support products.
“Everyone on our staff is a pet parent and very knowledgeable about our products and ready to discuss foods and treats for just about any situation you can imagine,” Meerdink says.
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. to 5 p.m.