Situated on a quiet residential street in Pilsen, Textile Discount Outlet is easy to stroll past without a second glance. But behind the unassuming, narrow façade, the store unfolds into a 75,000-square-foot wonderland of fabrics, rhinestones, trims, and upholstery accessories, all available at wholesale prices. In addition to the store’s unexpectedly vast depth and selection, part of its allure stems from the diversity of its wares: in room after room, practical, durable textiles, such as waterproof fabrics and leather by the square foot, wait to be discovered. Nearby, more than 100 varieties of delicate satin and organza ribbons, vibrant feathers, and hundreds of vintage-style fabrics attract the eye like a treasure chest or a picture of Teddy Roosevelt in the buff. If customers can’t find the fabric they’re looking for, the store’s textile experts are happy to special order it.
The style-savvy staff at Gabby's Gifts curates an eclectic mix of whimsical housewares, kid-centric gifts, and bath- and body-boosting products. Infuse a bathroom with the soothing scents of Archipelago Botanicals' soy- and oat-milk lotions, soy candles, and fragrances ($7–$45), or adorn a living room with plaques by Christine Mason Miller emblazoned with inspirational quotes ($12–$30), instead of tacking up the ambiguous prophecies found in fortune cookies. Chamilia bracelets ($40–$65) and Tokyo Bay handbags ($29.95–$79.95) elegantly enrobe limbs with chic designs, whereas specialty food and drink mixes by Conifer ($5.50–$7.50) upgrade afternoon teatimes. Gabby's Gifts also supplies pintsize patrons with dress-up accouterments from Molly 'N Me ($2–$17), as well as fancy tooth-fairy pillows from Rich Frog ($6.50) to impress the tooth fairy into leaving paper money.
The toys at Beanstalk are not guarded behind a counter for children to look at, but not touch. Instead the owners line up train sets, touch-and-feel books, and plush dolls at just the right height for kids to stage a hands-on meet and greet with each plaything before taking them home for new adventures. With young ones playfully preoccupied, parents can browse the store's selection of high chairs, rocking bassinets, and luxury strollers that safely and smartly outfit newborns and babies. A certified elementary school teacher selects the catalogue of books, crafts, and learning aids, catering both to the tactile toddler crowd as well as new readers who are first navigating the sounds of vowels, consonants, and accent marks on sippy-cup lattés. Beanstalk's collection of crooked, cartoonish playhouses suggest hours of outdoor fun, and the store's regularly scheduled lineup of storytelling events and dress-up parties supplies rainy-day amusements.
It's a big leap from the bustle of an athletic field to the solitude of a darkroom, but Calumet Photographic made the transition seamlessly more than 70 years ago. From its origins as a Chicago sporting-goods store, the company evolved into a one-stop shop for cameras and darkroom equipment and eventually into an innovator of photographic technology. In the 1960s, Calumet's most brilliant minds were behind the development of the Caltar large-format-lens line and nitrogen burst film.
Today, Calumet Photographic continues to manufacture and sell professional photographic products and software across the globe, boasting more than 25 retail stores throughout the US and Europe. Their shops abound with both new and used high-quality cameras and equipment, rental gear, and knowledgeable technicians eager to help customers find the right equipment for the job. The company’s extensive online catalog enables shoppers to purchase equipment from around the world and have it shipped directly to their home, studio, or mall photo booth they’ve claimed as a studio.
Inside Ultimate Exposure Tanning Centers' 30 Chicagoland locations, a full lineup of UV- and spray-tanning equipment infuse skin with a healthy summer glow year-round. Individual sessions in the automated spray-tanning booths—such as VersaSpa—or UV beds gild bodysuits for nights on the town, and unlimited monthly packages fashion a continuous golden hue previously only available to sunbathing satellites. The salon stocks a variety of tan-accelerating lotions from Swedish Beauty, Australian Gold, and Designer Skin, which deepen bronze hues and moisturize skin to fashion a long-lasting radiance.