Nooks & Crannies

Discover these unique places to visit in our area.


125 W. Main St., West Dundee, (847) 426-7266,

Romantica, West Dundee

This eclectic boutique rocks – rather, its owner rocks. Hanan Hall spent several years on the road with a band, playing bass and singing lead.

She’s also a jewelry artist, and while she was onstage, people would notice her jewelry and ask where she’d gotten it. When she told them it was her original creation, they wanted to buy it. That’s what got her started in sales.

“We traveled a circuit in California, so I started selling my pieces in local boutiques,” Hanan explains.

That blossomed into a successful wholesale business; when she finally came off the road, she opened a retail store in San Diego. After moving to the Midwest to be with family, she ran her store for four years in Lake Geneva, before she moved to her current location about two-and-a-half years ago. Hanan also carries other designers’ fashion earrings, bracelets and pendants, along with small-run, boutique designer fashions.

“I get most of my merchandise from the West Coast, because it’s what I love, and it’s like nothing available in the area,” she says. She has small purses and fashion evening bags, evening and cocktail attire, resort wear and clothing for special occasions. Hanan also accepts custom orders.

Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri. to 6 p.m.; Sat. to 5:30; every other Sun., noon-4 p.m. ❚

Leapin’ Lyrics

226 W. State St., Geneva, (630) 845-1770,

Leapin' Lyrics, Geneva

This unassuming storefront houses one of Kane County’s largest music schools. Downstairs, owner Terry Skreens stocks electric and acoustic guitars, drum kits, electronic keyboards, violins and other orchestra instruments. Musicians also can pick up accessories like strings, drumsticks, guitar picks, amps, straps, reeds and more. Sheet music, music books and instruction books are also sold.

In addition, find an amazing selection of musician-appropriate gifts, from the obligatory tee-shirts and posters to music-themed ties, ceramic mugs and knickknacks, miniature instruments, instrument Christmas ornaments, frames, figurines and more.

Upstairs, more than 30 studios are used to provide private instruction, available during 16-week semesters, on more than 20 types of instruments, for all levels and ages. The faculty is made up of professionally trained musicians and educators. There’s even a recording studio on-site.

Hours: Mon.-Thurs., noon-8 p.m.; Fri. to 5 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Gabby's Gifts, Downers Grove

Gabby’s Gifts

1008 Curtiss St., Downers Grove, (630) 515-1435,

This family-owned business, with another location in Galena, is a favorite among those who take special care to find just the right gifts for loved ones.

With gifts for him, her, kids and the home, shoppers can find unique items for any person or occasion. Lines include Lug, YUBZ, Big Sky Carvers gifts, chamilia charms and bracelets, Umbra, Bananagrams, Molly ‘N Me, and Melissa & Doug.

Home decor choices include Danielson Designs, The Christine Mason Miller Collection, Embellish Your Story! and Kelly Rae Roberts.

The store also carries a line of “Feel Good” products like Havana, Archipelago Botanicals, Tokyo Milk and Tea Forte. Hours: Mon., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Tue.-Wed., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri. 10 a.m.- 7 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Heisler’s Bootery

50 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, (815) 459-0171,

Heisler's Bootery, Crystal Lake

With all of the national warehouse shoe stores around, this place is a welcome anomaly. Jim Heisler is the third generation to run this family business, which opened in 1909.

“John, my grandfather, started out with harness making and shoe repair,” Heisler says. “My father, Leonard, worked here as a boy and took over when it was time. My three brothers and I practically grew up in the store.”

Since Heisler’s father passed away, his mother, Dorothy, has owned the business. Now Heisler, with wife Carol, manages. Though Dorothy’s in her nineties, she still comes down to the store, just to keep her hand in.

Heisler’s received the Illinois State Historical Society’s 2011 Centennial Award for Longevity. Personal service is the secret to its success. “We still sit people down and fit them,” says Heisler. “We do orthopedic shoe fittings, work boot fittings. We’re like the druggist for your feet. People tell us every day, ‘You’d better not close!’” He even has a Mobile Command Center – a van – to custom-fit work boots on job sites.

Among the brands Heisler carries are Red Wing, SAS, Worx and Hush Puppies, along with socks, shoe care products and other accessories. There’s even a workbench and tools from the original harness shop.

Hours: Mon.-Wed., 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Thurs. to 8 p.m.; Sat. to 5 p.m.