Nooks & Crannies: Summer Edition

Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.

Warehouse 55

55 S. Lake St., Aurora & 1819 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, (630) 730-0281,

Mark Allen’s passion for collecting vintage items began at a young age when he went garbage picking on his bicycle.

When he could drive, he started filling his car with used furniture and other items he then sold at local farmers markets. At one time, Allen owned a home goods store in Naperville, but now he owns antique furniture stores in Aurora and Chicago.

Warehouse 55 opened in Aurora in 2019 and occupies 20,000 square feet on two floors. It features a curated selection of vintage treasures from 75 local and out-of-state vendors who offer everything from rustic farmhouse and mid-century modern to French antiques, vinyl records and everything in between.

The Chicago location, opened in 2021, specializes in the Hollywood Regency style with items such as gold elephant plant stands, brass bar carts and vintage Turkish rugs.

Allen also rents space to a florist located upstairs and plans to add a coffee shop next door. To him, the relationships he’s built with vendors and customers over the years is a true reward for following his passion.

“All of our vendors in here are like a very tight family. We’re all there for each other,” says Allen. “It’s crazy how we all get along so well. We have such great relationships with regulars, and if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be here.”

Hours: Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Headon’s Fine Meats

103 N. Main St., Creston, Ill., (815) 384-3620,

When Mark Hibshman moved to Creston, Ill., in 2007 he had no idea he would eventually own and operate one of the village’s long-standing businesses.

Lyle Headon, who owned Headon’s Fine Meats, was ready to retire but hadn’t yet found someone to carry on the name, the recipes and the traditions of his fine meat shop. Until Hibshman showed up.

Today, Hibshman and his son, Justin, own this old-fashioned butcher shop opened in 1970.

The father-and-son duo carry a vast selection of quality meats from butterfly chops to filet mignon. Voted the best brat in Ogle County the past two years, the shop offers more than 60 flavors of brats with favorites like jalapeño cheddar or prime rib in addition to more obscure flavors like bacon Oreo.

The deli side of the shop offers daily lunch specials like steak sandwiches as well as fresh-baked bread, salads and smoked beef sticks.

For the Hibshmans, the loyalty of their customer base and their team of 23 dedicated employees are what matter most.

“All the employees here get along great,” says Mark. “One of them in the back, my granddaughter calls Uncle Bruce. And nobody just sticks to one job, either. Everyone helps each other.”

Hours: Tue.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sat. to 4 p.m.

Heisler’s Bootery

50 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, (815) 459-0171,

When Hungarian immigrant John Heisler Sr. founded a horse harness and shoe repair store in 1908, he started a businsess that has continued for generations.

Today, the store is owned and operated by the third and fourth generations of Heislers – Jim, his son, Jason, and his daughter, Jody, who’ve all grown up serving in the family business.

From cozy slippers and stylish loafers to sturdy snow boots, sophisticated dress shoes and reliable work boots, this family-owned store caters to many tastes in footwear. Brands like Clarks, SAS, Red Wing and Florsheim are standard offerings. In addition, the store offers a range of accessories like socks, boot oils and shoe polish.

Promising footwear that truly fits, Heisler and his team utilize a digital foot scanner to help customers find exactly the right shoe.

Aside from their company’s longtime home in downtown Crystal Lake, the Heisler family also own standalone Red Wing dealerships in Crystal Lake, Sycamore and McHenry.

At all four locations, customer service is a top priority.

“It’s more than just making a living,” says Jim. “It’s a real personal thing. You get used to certain people that you know perform for you in an honest way. That’s why I’m here.”

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