In 1988, Russ Weldon was on the cutting edge of technology: car phones. He opened up the first location in what would become a chain of Wireless Zone stores with The Car Phone Store. His business took off, but it wasn’t long before cellular phones stole the spotlight from their car-bound brethren. Today, his business has grown into a healthy chain of Wireless Zones, which includes a location in Long Grove, and Russ and his team continue to adapt to technological advances. The staff curates a collection of cell phones, GPS navigation devices, prepaid phones, and accessories that help keep customers in touch when they’re on the go, far away, or far away and stuck in a pit of quicksand.
Fourth-generation storeowner Robbyn Ratskoff and her staff of trained stylists outfit clients of all body types in the latest blouses, jeans, and dresses from brands such as Black Halo, Hazel, and Rich & Skinny. Apprenticed under her mother—founder of two local boutiques—Ratskoff leveraged years of retail experience to bring her sharp fashion sense to the people of Buffalo Grove. With an emphasis on high-end, designer denim, the boutique's jean inventory includes styles that hug curves better than an Aston Martin at a roller rink. Meanwhile, racks support the soft heft of light, flowing blouses and warm sweaters from brands including 360 Sweater and Autumn Cashmere.
At Sushiyaki, chefs roll up creative cuts of sushi, glaze meats with teriyaki, and whip up noodle entrees complemented by Japanese beers, wines, and teas. Red walls, eclectic decorations, and tunes from guest DJs fill the traditional dining area, and Japanese-style private rooms feature low tables and floor cushions. Bento boxes and sushi buffets let visitors plan their own taste-bud excursions, during which the smooth, black sushi bar becomes an airport check-in desk inexplicably staffed by fish-slicing chefs.
Galway's private lessons focus on honing hunter- and jumper-style riding, which skirt western-style accessories such as spurs, saddle horns, and John Wayne bobbleheads. Aspiring equestrians aged 7 and up rehearse trots and lead changes across the 7,200-square-foot heated indoor arena, and an observation room and deck provide sweeping views of students' jumps and turns. Weather permitting, horses unleash longer strides on the 20,800-square-foot outdoor riding arena. Four full-time trainers conduct and observe every lesson, ensuring safety while safeguarding megaphones from any passing horse whisperers. After lessons, equine companions retire to one of 26 heated stalls in the barn, inviting lucky students to exclusive mucking parties. The stable leases lesson horses and offers boarding for current horse owners.
Despite its rustic name, Liquor Barn purveys a wide array of sophisticated libations. Its shelves span continents with their stock—wines hail from Europe, South America, and Australia, and more than 2,000 domestic and imported beers appease hops aficionados. As for spirits, the store carries a mix of popular brands—Bacardi and Smirnoff among them—and exclusive collectibles, such as the cask-matured Auchentoshan 1975 limited-release bourbon, 1 of only 500 bottles ever produced. These coveted pieces display craftsmanship both inside and outside their containers. Tequila bottles, for example, might resemble painted skulls or ceramic cacti, instead of traditional flasks.
The staff facilitates purchases with onsite expertise. Each of the two Liquor Barn locations boasts specialists on certain types of drinks, from cognacs to craft beers. During social events, they showcase their know-how by leading pairing dinners, weekly free tastings, and cooking demonstrations along with special guests. Employees needn't be in the store to furnish parties, either: they can ferry drinks to nearby locales in a fleet of delivery trucks powered by popping champagne corks.
Chicago Jewelry and Lapidary School's instructors have had their work shown in galleries around the world. These acclaimed artists put their experience and passion to use by equipping students with the tools and know-how to create their own art. From courses on forging rings to constructing bead sculptures, the class schedule offers a wide array of creative outlets for the curious crafter or surreptitious bead thief. After class, students can post their masterpieces in the virtual art gallery or peruse the online boutique’s selection of healthy teas, essential oils, and chi-aligning crystals.