Nooks & Crannies, Holiday Edition

Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.


82 Railroad St., Crystal Lake, (815) 900-1335,
When Brent Hollenberg moved back to McHenry County 2.5 years ago, it was only a few months before he opened his own furniture store. At the time, it was a leap of faith, the 31-year-old says, but Reclaimed has become a destination for those seeking handcrafted pieces.

“I wanted to be able to offer unique furniture that people couldn’t get anywhere else,” Hollenberg says.
One side of his business focuses on restoring items made from the 1930s to the ’70s, a period when pieces were made in the U.S. from solid wood. Hollenberg has been salvaging for years.

The other side of the business is comprised of custom building, something that has kept Hollenberg and his three employees the most engaged.

Whether it’s a hall tree made of old barn wood or a rustic dining table, customers can order exactly what they want.

“I just try to focus on the quality of the work I’m doing, so when a customer buys it, they’re really, really, really happy,” says Hollenberg.

Hours: Thurs. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Elgin Knit Works

8 Douglas Ave., Elgin, (847) 627-4700,

After years of teaching high school home economics, Betsy Kuhn left education to raise her family.
But once her kids were older, she fell back on a lifelong passion – knitting – and, with the help of her mother, a recently retired teacher, opened Elgin Knit Works in 2012.

The shop, which provides materials and classes to knitters, crocheters, spinners and other handcrafters, offers what the area lacked, Kuhn says.

“Knitters really need a community,” she says. “It’s the social aspect that makes those handy crafts so enjoyable. And we didn’t have that. There wasn’t any place at that time.”

While Elgin Knit Works is first and foremost a retail store offering yarns, fibers and artists’ wares, Kuhn has created that community feeling by hosting open knit time three days a week.

Utilizing their teaching backgrounds, Kuhn and her mother also built a unique stair-step curriculum with skill-building classes. Once newcomers conquer one skill, they can move on to the next.

“People feel confident in a couple of classes,” says Kuhn. “Brand-new knitters can knit sweaters in a few weeks.”

Hours: Tues., Thurs., Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Wed. 1-8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Robbins Flowers Inc.

410 S. Third St., St. Charles, (630) 584-5707
143 S. Batavia Ave., Batavia, (630) 879-1102

Since 1970, Robbins Flowers Inc. has been known for its quality floral products and professional workmanship.

While many things have changed over the decades, great customer service from owners Don and Carol Robbins has not.

“I enjoy chit-chatting with customers and getting to know them and getting to know their families … not only as a floral support person, but as a person who shares their joys and sorrows,” Carol says.

Don oversees the couple’s St. Charles shop, and Carol is stationed in Batavia. Both locations offer fresh arrangements designed daily by professional designers. The shops also sell flowers by the stem; corsages, wristlets and boutonnieres for homecoming, prom and other special occasions; and green container plants.

Additionally, Robbins Flowers Inc. offers daily deliveries throughout the Fox Valley. And, as a member of Teleflora, the shop can transfer orders out of town or overseas.

The difference between Robbins Flowers Inc. and other big-box companies is clear, Carol says.

“We have great competition with the Internet,” Carol says. “However, I explain how we’re going to complete the order. No surprises. I will be here to answer the telephone today, tomorrow and the day after. Our customer service department is always available – always.”

St. Charles Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Batavia Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-2 p.m.