Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, May 18

Gapers Block

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Andrew / November 4, 2004 12:28 AM

By which we mean *any* local shop, not just clothing/jewelry boutiques. Coffee shops, bars and restaurants are out-of-bounds.

My personal faves, off the top of my head and in no particular order:
- Chicago Comics (Quimby's would be up there, too, if I was in the neighborhood more often.)
- The Spice House for the smells and the amazing spices.
- Iwan Ries, also for the smells. And the occasional cigar or pipe tobacco.

Alex / November 4, 2004 6:07 AM

Una Mae's Freak Boutique, Soft Core and Modern Times.

Lucky me, they are all next door to each other!

amyc / November 4, 2004 6:12 AM

Hard Boiled Records & Video, Women and Children First, Paper Boy, and Uncle Fun.

ksquared / November 4, 2004 8:06 AM

I love and adore RR#1. Go there if you wanted to find really cool stuff with the most friendly staff ever. If you want something great for yourself or to give a gift, go there. It's on the corner of Chicago & Ashland.

Jonathan / November 4, 2004 8:09 AM

Quimby's, The Hideout, Chicago Diner

Carly / November 4, 2004 8:19 AM

The Paper Trail and The Paper Doll. I can't get enough of independently owned card stores.

(thanks for this post...the political talk was really bringing me down =) )

emily / November 4, 2004 8:33 AM

I second The Paper Doll, RR#1 and Una Mae's. I also adore Dubby's Buy the Ounce for some delicious bulk and gourmet foods.

dayzella / November 4, 2004 8:45 AM

P.O.S.H., (formerly on Southport, now on State) for browsing and unique gifts.

Middle Eastern Bakery and Grocery in Andersonville for spices, olives, and dried fruit. Yay for sea salt!

heather / November 4, 2004 8:52 AM

haven't been there in a while, but Early to Bed in edgewater is durned awesome.

Thurston / November 4, 2004 8:53 AM

I loves me some Dusty Groove.

jenny / November 4, 2004 8:54 AM

Three cheers for Middle Eastern Bakery and Grocery!

I like this place on Clybourn (what the hell is the name of it) just south of Barnes and Noble that sells nice women's clothing by consignment. Work clothes for cheap.

Anybody know a REALLY good place to get clothes altered?

Brian / November 4, 2004 8:54 AM

Those folks that have provided fine, fine print matter for years and have been willing to stand up to Mtv on their Real World silliness: Myopic Books.

It's New To Me, our local thrift store, is a favorite as well.

jenny / November 4, 2004 8:54 AM

Forgot the Seminary Co-op Bookstore. How could I?

Naz / November 4, 2004 8:56 AM

Yojimbo's/Boulevard/Upgrade - all stellar independently owned bike stores. Run by small staff who actually care about what bike you should be getting, instead of selling you whatever bike is on sale/they're trying to get rid of.

Belmont Army Surplus - gotta love the collection of shoes.

michael / November 4, 2004 9:11 AM

Not so much a place to consume packaged goods-lords knows there are enough of those-but a boutique none the less. The smartdept. is a small business that gets artsy people(like you!) kick ace jobs. make like a beastie and check. check. check. check. check it out!

Brenda / November 4, 2004 9:28 AM

Uncle Fun, Paper Boy, and Hazel (on Montrose). US#1 is my favorite place for vintage coats (notice I didn't say "thrift"... they ain't cheap).

Tom / November 4, 2004 9:37 AM

I like Waxman on Lincoln for candles. I like Myopic for books.

As for clothes, I just don't have the money to shop at boutiques.

Maggie / November 4, 2004 9:42 AM

Paper Boy is fabulous, as is a coffee/tea store on Halsted/Broadway/Grace.. I think it's called the tea dept. The man who runs it is very knowledgeable and personable.

robin.. / November 4, 2004 9:44 AM

Early to Bed, Beans & Bagels (now! on rockwell & leland!), Women & Children First, Chi. Comics & Quimby's, The Handlebar, The Heartland Cafe, Kopi, Laurie's Planet of Sound...i love chicago. it looks like i also love sex, coffee, books, food, and records. what else is there in life apart from these, and politics?

(by the by, andrew, The Spice House is a Penzey's, i think, if that makes a difference in their classification as "indie." a great place no matter what--i like to bike to the evanston one on a weekend and get some peppercorn...)

Thurston / November 4, 2004 9:47 AM

Jenny - I get clothes altered at the Golden Needle on State just north of Chicago Ave. This Eastern European chick in there Maria knows whats up. It's not inexpensive but her work is really good.

Another key Chicago resource in the clothes-serivces arena is Without A Trace Weavers, who can re-weave nice fabrics if they get a hole in them, and it really is without a trace. This service tends to the pricey but can fix an otherwise ruined article of clothing. Most tailors who offer re-weave serices contract out to Without a Trace. They are on Walton just west of Michigan down a weird little gangway next to a store front antique shop.

robin.. / November 4, 2004 9:48 AM

ooop, ooop; coffee, bars, and restaraunts are out of bounds! sorry! the kopi's still got some trinkets and stuff!

Michael / November 4, 2004 9:52 AM

Paulina Meat Market, Chicago Comics and Bittersweet Bakery.

anne / November 4, 2004 10:04 AM

I really miss working across from Waxman, and near Uncle Fun, as they rock. Right about now though, I'm loving my local yarn stores: Arcadia Knitting, Close Knit (in Evanston), and my occasional finds at Knitting Workshop and Knitter's Niche.

Wendy / November 4, 2004 10:06 AM

Merz Apothecary! They have stuff to cheer you up in every price range. When I was broke I'd buy the $4 vials of Kneipp Herbal Bath stuff. Now I get most of my soap and stuff there, plus this weird British toothpaste that tastes like Altoids.

Craig / November 4, 2004 10:16 AM

I.D. for being a design-objects store without pretention. Penelope's for the unique & affordable hipster garb... and free Ms. Pac Man! RR#1 [Gapinski] for the amazing interior, great products, and friendly owner. Paper Doll for just being a great little card store. Quimby's for the quirky. Orange Skin for the sheer selection of amazing designer-objects. Rotofugi for the eye-candy. Dubby's Buy the Ounce cuz I love bulk foods.

Anthony / November 4, 2004 10:21 AM

Thank GOD no political questions today. Off the top of my head and in no order:

Stores: Myopic Books, Modern Times, FUSS, Dusty Grooves

Clothes (for men): Active Endeavors, US #1, untitled, Belmont Army Surplus, Ragstock, Softcore, Pennelope's

Bars: The Local Option, Lelia Jane's, Moody's Pub, Innjoy,

Restuarants: Sia Cafe, Cozy Noodle, Aladdin's (both of them), My Thai, La Condesa, Rique's, sushi 'Happy Hour' at that place across from Orange on Clark, Clark's (on Lincoln), Luigi's Pizza, Milk and Honey, Pasta Palazzo, Pasta Bowl, all restuarants on Lincoln Sq, Nookies

Coffee shops: Bouregious Pig (yes, I realized I butcher that), Intelligentsia, Filter, Garamound, Travelers Cafe, Uncommon Grounds, Alliance Bakery

Food: Middle East Bakery on Foster and Clark

OVERRATED: Paulina Meat Market, Bongo Room, Orange

dan / November 4, 2004 10:27 AM

There's something comforting about toy stores, I swear...

I'm nominating Quake and Rotofugi.

Andrew / November 4, 2004 10:27 AM

Robin.. -- unless they hide it really well, The Spice House is not part of Penzey's. They were started by the parents of the current owners. But I could be wrong.

Mike / November 4, 2004 10:33 AM

I second (third, fourth?) Myopic Books and Quimby's.
The Jazz Mart is also one of my favorite places to shop for really hard to find music.

Naz / November 4, 2004 11:03 AM

"OVERRATED: Paulina Meat Market, Bongo Room, Orange"

Can't speak for Paulina Meat Market but Orange is overrated - it's decent but it ain't wait-for-two-hours good. I really want to hit the Bongo Room but there's nothing that's going to make me wait for two hours to get in. Yeesh. There's better brunch spots for a lot less waiting time (John's Place, Lula's, Victory's Banner, Toast [though they can get long too depending on what time you go]).

Shylo / November 4, 2004 11:08 AM

Early to Bed for sexy-time things, Vive La Femme for fabulous clothes for the voluptuous figure.

Ellen / November 4, 2004 12:03 PM

Unabridged Bookstore at 3251 N. Broadway.

paul / November 4, 2004 1:14 PM

I love Uncle Dan's, one of the only independent camping/outdoor stores left in the area.

Active Endeavours used to be the only independent place where you could buy a carabiner or a caving helmet, but it grew and now it's not much more than an upscale Gap/Baby Gap.

My favorite independent stores downtown are Central Camera (third generation, same family ownership) and Northwestern Cutlery. It's nice to know that there are stores still staffed with people who know more about what you're buying than you will ever know.

paul / November 4, 2004 1:17 PM

Oops, must have typo-ed the Central Camera link.

Steve / November 4, 2004 1:39 PM

All of them. Because as corporations continue their stranglehold on us over the next four years, we're gonna need all the small-business mojo we can get.

Cinnamon / November 4, 2004 1:59 PM

My favorite place to buy indie goods is directly from the creator. We're lucky to have three shows that let us do this: Renegade Craft Fair, DIY Trunk Show, and Depart-ment.

Anthony / November 4, 2004 2:18 PM

1) I second Central Camera. I've spent a bizillion dollars in there.

2) Toast is also on the overrated list. My favorite brunches are Nookies and Milk and Honey.

3) I agree that Active Endeavors used to be much better and cheaper, but I still enjoy. Especially their outlet sales in at the Evanston store.

4) I think we can pretty much just lump Lincoln Sq all together as a great venue for independent merchants.

Andrew / November 4, 2004 2:24 PM

Oh yeah, I forgot Mertz Apothecary.

Carly / November 4, 2004 3:03 PM

A great alternative to Bongo Room is Room 12, which is owned by them.

They either have the same or similar menu.

I've never had to wait, even on a busy brunch Sunday.

Carly / November 4, 2004 3:04 PM

A great alternative to Bongo Room is Room 12, which is owned by them.

They either have the same or similar menu.

I've never had to wait, even on a busy brunch Sunday.

I'm also not a huge Orange fan. I'm just not into eating salad with an omelette.

Kirsten / November 4, 2004 3:15 PM

"this weird British toothpaste that tastes like Altoids." British toothpaste? Wendy, you are a brave soul...

I like My Closet on North Paulina and Roscoe.

steven / November 4, 2004 3:16 PM

orange is great. their potatoes rock. but i thought restaurants were off limits for this poll?

strange cargo is a great local shop. evil clown is cool too.

Anthony / November 4, 2004 3:18 PM

oops. sorry. must have been the ADD.

libby / November 4, 2004 3:34 PM

i believe that lincoln square is zoned as such that certain large scale businesses can not set up shop. mostly, i guess, in the case where the new large scale business would essentially build a big ol' building. so yes, in deed it is a haven for indie business and a protected one at that.

but, i think since my knowledge is fuzzy... i'd like to look to the gb librarian for confirmation!!

Thurston / November 4, 2004 3:46 PM

Does anyone know a good store for out of the norm cooking utensils? I'm looking for a special Japanese tool for peeling fresh ginger root, as well as a good lemon/lime press for Mexican cooking that doesn't leave a metallic taste in the juice. Shirley there must be a place.

anne / November 4, 2004 3:55 PM

For cooking supplies, you might try The Wooden Spoon in Andersonville on Clark, just south of Foster by 1 or 2 blocks. Talk about a neighborhood that fights for its independant stores! Andersonville rocks.

Kirsten / November 4, 2004 4:05 PM

Thurston: If you can't find what you are looking for, to peel ginger, just use the tip of a coffee spoon, the skin will come right off.

Anthony / November 4, 2004 4:58 PM

Or you could try the Chopping Block. There's one on Magnolia/Webster and one in Lincoln Sq.

katie / November 4, 2004 4:59 PM

i got a great lime press at the edgewater produce market on clark (across the street from jewel) up in edgewater. i haven't noticed a metallic taste with it. pretty cheap too! under $5!

that place is one of my favorites for cheap produce!!! and super cheap mexican cheese!

robin.. / November 4, 2004 5:02 PM

edgewater produce has, i think, another location at harvestime on lawrence west of rockwell that we go to, and i second the favourite!

jenny / November 4, 2004 5:15 PM


Try "Woks 'n' Things, 2234 S. Wentworth (Chinatown). It was in "The Cook's Guide to Chicago" as having "A huge selection of woks, cleavers, steamers, strainers and skimmers...check out the garnishing tools, including the very elaborate vegetable cutters."

Amy / November 4, 2004 6:23 PM

The Square and Andersonville can pretty much fill all of your indie selling I second, third and fourth the following:

1. Hazel!! (the owner David is part of the joy of going there)

2. Women & Children First for being the best non-snobby bookseller EVER. (and I'm a book snob)

3. Merz Apothecary

4. Timeless Toys (best toys and service anywhere)

Kirby / November 4, 2004 6:53 PM

Not sure if anyone else mentioned this, but ">"> American Science and Surplus rocks! I can spend hours in there. I'm pretty sure they're local.

Veronica / November 4, 2004 7:39 PM

Oh, definitely Unabridged Books as well as Myopic and Powells. I could spend days in those places.

Ben / November 4, 2004 8:00 PM

How about the Coffee and Tea exchange on Broadway near Roscoe? I always get my beans there.

rob / November 5, 2004 1:28 AM

Fine Wine Brokers, in, you guessed, Lincoln Square. It's crazy intimidating from the street, but the selection is right on, the price is just right, and the folks who own the place will recommend all sorts of off brand stuff. Great neighborhood wine merchant.

Jeffroix / November 5, 2004 7:11 AM

Something's Brewing, at 2677 Lincoln, has the best espresso and other beans, bar none. I've been driving in from Palatine to get my stash monthly for many years; it's worth the trip.

Anthony / November 5, 2004 10:33 AM

For produce... Stanley's.

bryan / November 5, 2004 11:25 AM

rotofugi. for toys.
quimby's. for published things.

RS / November 5, 2004 11:47 AM

Bittersweet for sweet treats; on Devon Ave. (Little India) Fresh Farms, Kamdar Plaza, and Patel Bros. for very inexpensive & good quality spices and "exotic" food stuff.

Norm / November 9, 2004 2:53 PM

A big second to the posters that mentioned Unabridged Books on Broadway.

My other favorite indie stores in Chicago:

-Carraba's Childrens Shoes on North Clark: a great reasonably-priced selection of high-quality, fashionable kids' shoes, with great service from the super-friendly owner.

-The Savvy Traveler at Michigan & Jackson: The best travel guide selection anywhere. Literally anywhere. Lots of cool travel-related gadgets, too.

-He Who Eats Mud on Broadway: Cards for all occasions

-Central Camera on S. Wabash

-City Newsstand at the Six Corners intersection in Portage Park.

-Pastoral, the new wine-and-cheese shop on Broadway is also a new favorite.

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