Nooks & Crannies, Summer Edition

Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.

Frivolous Treasures

138 N. Main St., Elburn, (630) 448-1276,

Owner Cheryl Kuta believes some of the antiques coming into her shop are so captivating that they never make it to the shop floor. Somehow, they work their way into her living room, instead.

“I can’t help it; I’m my own worst enemy, in that regard,” Kuta says.

Frivolous Treasures, situated in what was originally a dry goods store built in 1886, houses antiques that cater to a number of tastes, including Euro chic and vintage barnyard. The shop carries unique furniture, antique decorum, vintage advertisements and more.

“People come in and get really excited when they can find something they are sentimental about, something their mother once owned or something they remember from their childhood,” Kuta says.

By working with a number of antiques dealers and regularly scouting estate sales, Kuta sees many things go in and out of her shop. She vouches there will always be something for everyone, regardless of their taste.

In addition to antiques, Frivolous Treasures carries a selection of handmade soaps, shampoos, candles and greeting cards.

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Burseth Farm

110 N. Benton St., Woodstock, (815) 342-0745,

Starting with a single goat and excess dairy, brothers Dereck and Gavin Burseth have sparked what is now a thriving business.

After making their first batch of homemade goat milk soap and distributing blocks among family members and friends, 19-year-old Gavin knew he and his brother were onto something when they received nearly unanimous praise. Realizing there could be a market for their soap, the brothers took their product on tour; they appeared in a number of beauty conventions, eventually landed a kiosk in Woodfield Mall and now run a shop in the heart of Woodstock.

The brothers carry more than 50 goat milk products at their store, including bath bombs, shaving scrubs and lotions.

Goat milk serves as a better moisturizer because of its naturally fatty and vitamin-rich composition, Gavin says. He adds that some competitors make soap using powdered forms of goat milk, which he believes reduces the milk’s effectiveness.

The Burseth brothers no longer use their own goats for soap, so as to focus more time on the business. But, they remain dedicated to using only natural goat milk supplied by local farms. Gavin and his family work closely with suppliers to ensure the goats are well cared for.
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

The Back Porch

205 Robert Parker Coffin Road, Long Grove, (847) 793-0771,

For those who are worn and tired from the corporate grind, take a piece of advice from Sal Guadagna, who abandoned the office world to pursue a peaceful living selling top-quality garden accents.

His store, The Back Porch, specializes in products that enhance gardens and outdoor spaces. Windmills of all kinds are a specialty, but visitors will also find products that range from sun catchers to bird houses.

Guadagna’s merchandise isn’t like what you’d find in a big-box garden store because many of his offerings are produced in the U.S. In an attempt to support local art and domestic trade, products from local crafters make it into the shop, as well.

This mix of carefully curated garden products and locally supplied merchandise creates a unique selection of goods.

“It’s rare that you would see some of the things in here anywhere else,” Guadagna says. “I try to look for things that you are not going to find in a big-box store or mall.”

The Back Porch’s inventory rotates on a seasonal basis and offers a wide variety of holiday products.

Hours: Mon.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Sweet Earth

341 W. State St., Sycamore, (815) 895-3011,

This unconventional store prides itself on its selection of small-brand, handcrafted, quality jewelry, but customers also appreciate the wide selection of beads, gem samples, designer clothing and artisan foods found inside.

Unlike your typical jewelry store, Sweet Earth offers repairs on fashion jewelry and provides specialized engravings on items like wine bottles, knives and plaques.

Beyond jewelry, hard-to-find items like pink Himalayan salt lamps and eco-friendly cleaning supplies make up this store’s selection of goods.

Richard Para, who owns the shop with wife Roseann, opened Sweet Earth in 1994 to join his interest in jewelry and his wife’s interest in retail under the same roof.

Para has worked with jewelry since he was 15 years old and says working on unique items gives him a challenge and keeps him thinking creatively.

In addition to making repairs, Richard hosts group workshops in which he introduces adults to the skills and resources needed to create handmade, one-of-a-kind keepsakes such as gemstone pennants and oil-diffusing bead bracelets.

“In classes, you bring skills out of people they didn’t even know they had,” Richard says.

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.