Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.
130 Cass St., Woodstock, (815) 459-4216, mdtrains.com
Tucked in the Woodstock Square, this model railroading store carries many engines and cars, mini railroad sets, layout designs and accessories from a variety of suppliers. The business also services train engines and installs electronics, sounds and remote controls.
“This is pretty much your classic hobby train store,” says owner Matthew Drennan.
A lifelong fan of trains, Drennan opened the business in 2018 after spending four years running a train shop in Crystal Lake that dealt strictly with over-the-phone and online sales.
“I love working with trains, and my wife told me I was a very good salesman,” Drennan says with a laugh. “I used to go and watch trains come into the station in Crystal Lake, and I’ve spent a lot of time at the Illinois Railway Museum. For me, this is as much enjoyment as it is a job.”
Drennan says his business has shown plenty of first-year growth, especially since more people are finding him.
“We’re one of the only train shops between Rockford and Grayslake, so we have a very large hole to fill for the customer clientele who are figuring out we’re here,” he says.
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Elgin Knit Works
8 Douglas Ave., Elgin, (847) 627-4700, elginknitworks.com
Located in a cozy building downtown, this specialty yarn store is filled with yarns and fibers for making sweaters, blankets or anything else to keep you warm this winter.
The shop also offers materials to crocheters, knitters and spinners, including buttons, project bags and shawl pins.
“We’ve filled our store with sample garments made from the various yarns in our shop,” says Betsy Kuhn, who owns the store with her mother, Linda. “This helps customers see how the fiber is knitted up, and they can feel it.”
The duo opened the business in 2012 in a small building with low inventory. The specialty store blossomed and within a year, they outgrew the space.
That’s when they moved to their current, larger building and introduced some additional items.
Because Kuhn and her mother are former high school home economics teachers who love knitting, they also teach classes at the store. Once knitters conquer one skill, they’re able to learn others.
“Knitting is a hobby my mom and I both love,” Kuhn says. “By owning a store, we’re able to combine our love of knitting with our passion for teaching.”
Hours: Wed. 1-8 p.m., Thurs. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Fri.-Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
1741 E. Geneva St., Ste. 450, Delavan, Wis. (262) 725-6693, theamishkitchen.net
Deanna Delimat appreciates the wholesome and delicious flavors of foods made by hand in Amish communities.
“The ingredients are all very straightforward,” she says. “You don’t have to worry you’re ingesting jet fuel, if you know what I mean.”
The store she owns in Delavan sells a number of fine chocolate treats including chocolate cashew crunch, peanut butter cups and turtles; fruit jams and jellies; preserved produce like pickled asparagus, dilly beans or garlic; home-grown popcorn and fresh baked goods.
“We drive to northern Wisconsin every Thursday to pick up the baked goods from an Amish family of 14 that makes them from scratch,” she says.
Delimat offers custom-printed packaging for companies that want to give Amish treats as gifts or for groups who sell the food in their fundraising programs.
Many people are surprised to learn that the Amish population has doubled in the past 20 years, says Delimat. More than 265,000 Amish adults and children reside in North America, choosing to live very simple lives, often without electricity.
Hours: Thurs.-Sat. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sun. noon to 6 p.m.