Nooks & Crannies, Holiday Edition

Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.


253 Broad St., Lake Geneva, Wis., (262) 248-7700,

When Stephen and Genna Monticello moved to Wisconsin from Florida in 2007, they wanted to start their own business.

They spoke to several locals and, after finding several leads, decided to open a men’s clothing store. The result is Haberdapper, launched in 2008, a store that specializes in men’s clothing and accessories, all arranged in a store filled with antique tables and warm wood tones. Its luxury brands include Truefitt & Hill, Tommy Bahama and Allen Edmonds.

Much more than a clothing store, Haberdapper is connected with Haberdapper Real Estate Advisors, a collection of real estate professionals who can help to connect homebuyers and home sellers with necessary services.

The Monticellos also maintain an interior design service that carries an assortment of vintage and modern photographic prints from the Lake Geneva area.

“We consider our clothing to be high-end casual wear that’s perfect for a day enjoying our resort town or dressy enough for a night on the town,” Genna says.

She’s more than happy to discuss design elements in further detail and point visitors in the right direction, not just for fashion, but for luxury living in Lake Geneva.

Hours: Mon.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Hours extended during summer and holidays.

Velvet Butterfly

404 S. Second St., St. Charles, (630) 940-4836

Nancy Mylnski has been painting and making vintage artwork for as long as she can remember.

“I’ve made different things and I’ve always been working on different projects, ever since I was a little girl,” she says.

She turned her passion into a business when she opened the Velvet Butterfly five months ago. The business is housed in a century-old Victorian-style home that shows off its vintage style and flair – not unlike the items found in her store.

The Velvet Butterfly offers decorative hand-painted signs, accents and murals, along with jewelry and vintage-style lampshades that can’t be found anywhere else. Mylnski also enjoys working on custom orders.

“I do a vintage, romantic, cottage-style type of art work,” she says. “I can also do French and gypsy-style artwork as well.

Mylnski is an avid painter, and visitors can see many of her works on display at the store. She especially enjoys capturing landscapes and nature scenes.

“I get an enjoyment when people come to my store and they find something unique that they can add to their home,” Mylnski says.

Hours: Mon.-Sun. noon-6 p.m.

Runners High ‘N Tri

121 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, (847) 670-9255,

In his last job, in Michigan, Mark Rouse wasn’t always greeted so warmly as he is now.

“When I was a cop, people didn’t want to see me,” he says with a laugh. “Now, everyone wants to see me.”

Rouse is the owner of Runners High ‘N Tri, a triathlon and running store in downtown Arlington Heights that specializes in athletic apparel and accessories for many sports. There’s a keen focus on running, biking and swimming.

Since it opened in 1990, Runners High ‘N Tri has gained a loyal audience, as reflected in Competitor Magazine’s naming it one of the 50 best running stores in America.

Rouse is passionate about running and staying active. He’s competed in roughly 20 Ironman competitions since he started running competitively in the 1960s. His love for physical activity stayed with him after he left law enforcement and became a businessman.

“I wanted to be my own boss,” he says. “It’s also great to follow people’s stories. I’ve seen beginners turn into triathlon runners.”

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. to 5 p.m.

The Olive Tap

68 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, (815) 459-6457,

The decision to open an olive oil and balsamic vinegar specialty store was a no-brainer for Bob and Lori Sherry.

“We love to cook and we were looking for a business to start,” Bob says. “Being a franchise, this was an easy start-up business.”

The Sherrys’ store is one of 10 national locations for The Olive Tap, which is one of the largest olive oil and balsamic vinegar specialists.

Nestled in the heart of Crystal Lake, this location has been open for about five years.

“We can pick and choose which products we think will sell best in our area,” Lori says.

The couple got the idea to start the business after visiting a similar store in Wisconsin.

“We stumbled across a store like ours and fell in love with the whole look, feel and concept of tasting oils and vinegars from stainless steel tanks,” Bob says.

When customers visit the store, they can sample the oil and vinegars right from a stainless steel tank, using a cube of bread for dipping.

The Olive Tap also sells seasonings and gourmet foods, including its Key Lime Margarita Grill Sauce, Sweet Bourbon Glaze and Lemon Caper sauce.

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.