Nooks & Crannies, Summer Edition

Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.

Kiera Confections

1114 N. Green St., McHenry, (815) 385-4372,

In 2010, Kim Loewe left the world of corporate marketing to launch Kiera Confections. Named after her daughter, this cupcake bakery serves delectable homemade treats.

“People can have a good time while eating delicious cupcakes,” says Loewe, who serves up inventive cupcake flavors such as lemon cream, pancakes ‘n bacon, peanut butter cup and cookies ‘n cream. The most popular are red velvet and chocolate salted caramel (pictured right). New flavors are introduced regularly.

Loewe also serves up ice cream, cookies and the chipwich – a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich. Customized cupcakes are available for all kinds of celebrations, such as birthdays, weddings and anniversaries.

“My favorite part of owning the store is seeing the joy of kids picking up their birthday cupcakes, or brides when they recieve their wedding cupcakes,” says Loewe. “It’s really cool to get to know our customers and help them throughout their bridal showers and weddings, and then to help with their baby showers and children’s birthday parties.”

Hours: Mon. & Fri. 1-9 p.m., Tue.-Thu. noon-8 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Peaceful Parlour

212 S. Third St., Geneva, (630) 232-6300,

Shari Ralish wanted to try something different, so she launched her own store in 2010. The result: an eco-friendly shop that provides fair trade goods.

“We want customers to walk away with a positive feeling that they’re helping the planet,” says Ralish.
Every product has sustainability in mind, from the lightly scented candles to the bath salts, jewelry and kitchen items.

“One of our specialties is a variety of organic herbal tea blends, which we create at the shop,” says Ralish.

The store hosts several events throughout the year, including Twilights on the Terrace. Now in its fifth season, the event features live music on the lawn outside the store. “We love to be a bright spot in people’s days,” says Ralish.

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Offbeat Music Store

3 S. Old Rand Road, Lake Zurich, (847) 550-1361,

Jim Betsios discovered a love for music at an early age, and studied percussion at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. In 1998, the musician opened a shop that specializes in instrument sales and repairs.

“We sell standard products, like acoustic guitars and percussion accessories, but we have a lot of unique items, too,” says Betsios. “Over the years, we started introducing vintage vinyl records, CDs and rock apparel. You don’t have to be a musician to walk into our store.”

In this low-stress shopping environment, customers can find patterned guitar straps, music books and more. Products cover a wide array of brands, including Breedlove Guitar Company, Tycoon Percussion and Planet Waves.
Betsios continues to play many instruments today. He invites customers to sign up for weekly 30-minute music lessons, primarily in guitar, bass, drums, piano, voice and ukulele.

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 1-8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Penny & Izzy’s Children’s Boutique

37 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, (815) 900-9757,

When Tracy and Brooks Green moved from Indiana to Crystal Lake last year, they noticed an open storefront downtown and figured it was the perfect moment to fulfill their dream. Last November, the couple opened their own children’s boutique.

“Downtown Crystal Lake is so active,” says Tracy. “We love being involved in the community.”

The shop sells many unique, high-quality items such as children’s clothes, maternity clothes, books and accessories. “We have everything from tutus and sippy cups to swaddling blankets and diaper bags,” says Tracy.
Major brands include KicKee Pants, Feather Baby, Tea Collection and Toobydoo. KicKee Pants clothing is made from bamboo material; Feather Baby outfits are made from organic cotton.

Customers can create a baby registry within the store, and products that are specially ordered can be mailed to the new mother’s home. Still familiarizing themselves with their new hometown, the Greens invite visitors to stop in and introduce themselves.

Hours: Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.