Alpine Accessories owner Rick broke into the business more than 30 years ago, when he began working part-time at a ski shop. In 1993 he decided to strike out on his own, operating a mail-order catalog for ski accessories out of his basement and garage. Two years later, Rick set up an online store that quickly outsold his catalog, making it more obsolete than an eight-track tape crammed inside a VCR.
The website’s success led to the first brick-and-mortar Alpine Accessories, which opened in 2003. Eventually, its inventory grew beyond ski accessories to also include ski and snowboarding equipment, apparel, and rentals. Today, Alpine Accessories sells and rents K2 skis, Flow snowboards, and mountain garb such as battery-heated gloves and mittens. The store's five standup-paddleboard instructors have introduced the sport to more than 300 students this summer through its lesson and rental program. In addition, its service department tunes and waxes equipment, so skiers can show off their like-new gear when slushing down the slopes or walking along city sidewalks.
To inject some spice into her workouts, Linda Costoff founded Intrigue Fitness as a women-only studio that focuses on group fitness, personal training, and engaging classes. Intrigue specializes in pole-dancing fitness classes, with sessions that include beginner workshops, advanced classes, private lessons, and bachelorette parties. The studio also offers a wide variety of fitness and dance classes.
Since its grand opening in 2004, JC's Guitars & Music Lessons now boasts locations in Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, and St. Charles. Each location hosts a professional musician teaching staff with a comprehensive knowledge of string, wind, and percussion instruments. They also provide recording equipment in each studio so students can record their progress at no additional cost.
Gordmans restocks bureaus and residential nooks with an expansive inventory of name-brand merchandise discounted below department store prices, including team apparel and seasonal decorations. Flaunt support for a collegiate club by sliding arm branches through an Illinois color-block polo ($24.99). Fans can also don a pair of Chicago Bears lounge pants ($19.99), ideal for relaxing while watching the game or ripping off to expose Mike Ditka knee tattoos. Artistic wall art festoons vacant environs in colorful creations, such as canvases coated in tones of still-life wine ($24.99) and scenic vistas ($29.99+). Alternatively, a harvest of men's and women's fragrances allows shoppers to uncork new scents for seasonal parties, class reunions, and heated negotiations with the shopping-mall Santa Claus.
Ulta's licensed staff, which partakes in ongoing training to keep skills sharp, creates customized looks and expert image enhancement using acclaimed beauty products. Like a loaf of bread in a space shuttle with a broken sunroof, hairstyles can grow stale between salon visits. A 45-minute coif-cultivation session, in which the stylist takes into account face shape and lifestyle, energizes follicles and forges a salon-fresh look. In the one-hour Dermalogica facial, an aesthetic augur examines skin in order to customize a course of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing session with Dermalogica products. The treatment leaves skin impeccable, like a recently buffed and oiled slab of marble.
Inside House of Tobacco, an enormous humidor houses row upon row of Dominican and Nicaraguan cigars. Once shoppers have unsheathed their favorite one, they can complement it with accessories ranging from cutters and lighters to travel humidors and hookahs. At the Lakemoor location known as Kenny The King Lakemoor, an onsite cigar lounge—complete with television and poker table—awaits patrons who’d like to stick around and enjoy their purchases right away, practicing smoke rings or working on their smoke self-portrait.