Nooks & Crannies, Summer Edition

Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.

Marvin’s Toy Store

64A N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, (779) 220-4179,
100 E. Station St., Barrington, (224) 848-4016,

Since its debut in 2013, this homegrown toy store has been a wonderland for local children. Late last year, the mother-daughter duo behind Marvin’s expanded their reach into downtown Barrington.

The pair have built their business upon nine main criteria, all of which center around environmental consciousness, social responsibility, active play and responsible manufacturing.

Products are made in America – and Illinois – where possible.

The idea for the store began when Lori McConville was as a kindergarten teacher. She’d often overhear parents say they wanted toys that were more educational and made from natural materials.
It was a message that clicked, because her daughter, Kate, was a young parent.

“When my son was little, there was no toy store around except for Toys ‘R’ Us and the big-box stores,” says Kate, who owns the store with her mom.

The McConvilles and their staff take extra efforts to help customers find something that’s a good fit and engages minds.

Hours: Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Blue Moon Bikes

211 W. State St., Sycamore, (815) 899-3100,

This specialty shop offers a large collection of new and classic bicycles made by Schwinn, Haro, GT and other favorite brands.

The business is run by a group of skilled enthusiasts who also repair and restore bikes. They accept trades and will purchase used bikes.

“It’s a fun little store,” says Rod Griffis, who opened Blue Moon in 2001. “It’s a place to get away to see some old and new bikes.
A lot of people even come here to reminisce about their old bicycle.”

Each floor of this multi-level building is full of bikes. Newer models are on the first floor, vintage bikes are on the second floor, and the third floor is home to a personal collection belonging to Griffis, with a focus on Schwinn Stingray bikes dating back to 1963.

“We also have a basement that’s full of parts, so we call this ‘the building with four floors of fun,’” he says. “I started my collection in 1996. I just started buying them, and over time I ended up with a lot of bikes.”

Blue Moon Bikes puts on the annual Krate Fest, a bike show and flea market in downtown Sycamore, this year scheduled for Sept. 26. It’s named for the Krate series of Schwinn bikes made between 1968 and 1973.

Hours are Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


404 S. Ill. Rt. 31, McHenry, (630)-567-2873,

After teaching fashion for 10 years at the local high school, Connie Perez decided it was time to take the next step in her career and launch a business.

“I’ve done every job that you can have that’s attached to fashion,” says Perez, who earned her bachelor’s degree in fashion. “I understand clothing, cut and structure, the woman’s body and how clothes hang. I understand the fabrics, and the textures and colors. I’m dressing the ladies before they even come into the store.“

Perez launched her store in 2008 with a focus on in-home design and all things handmade.

She’s since brought in her expertise in women’s clothing, offering a signature gift wrap with every purchase. She carries a wide variety of clothing, jewelry and accessories as well as vintage and repurposed home decor. 

Perez seeks to create a positive environment where women are celebrated. 

“The whole mission of Aesthetics is creating a space for women to discover their inner beauty as well as what is beautiful around them,” says Perez. 

Hours: Mon.-Wed. & Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thurs. to 7 p.m., Sat. to 4 p.m., Sun. to 3 p.m.