All big movements start small, but many would be surprised to learn that Ten Thousand Villages—a nonprofit and retailer with 390 outlets nationwide—began out of a car trunk. In 1946, Edna Ruth Byler started the organization out of her car, taking a name from a quote by Mohandas Gandhi, who said, “India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages.” Her willpower and determination allowed her vision to grow into a nonprofit that today supports more than 130 artisans in 38 developing countries. These artisans' wares go on sale at the organization's nationwide retail outlets, which brim with items including jewelry, home decor, and refrigerator cozies.
Everything is made using environmentally friendly processes, and every artisan is paid a fair wage. The money raised from sales goes to supply the artisans—who might otherwise be unemployed or underemployed—with education, food, housing, and healthcare. The organization has risen to such stature that it won the People’s Choice Award for Green Business of the Year in 2005, and has acted as one of the founding members of the World Fair Trade Organization.
In 1962, Val Camilletti began working at Capitol Records, which was ushering in a new era of music, led by The Beatles and The Beach Boys. Ten years later, she opened her own retail record shop, which has spent 40 years distributing eclectic sounds to listeners who, Val says, "are tired of shopping for music in refrigerator stores."
At Val's, you'll find vinyl records lined up in tidy rows and rock posters on the walls. Its expansive, rotating stock features several musical genres and spotlights burgeoning local artists. Knowledgeable staff can also help customers hunt down rare issues, imports, or B-sides. If a record is not in the store inventory, Val's can order it within 24 to 48 hours, depending on how fast they can wake up Keith Richards.
Back to Bed is a trusted source for sound sleep, growing from a single store in 2000 to a mattress empire with more than 45 locations across the Chicagoland area. Tempur-Pedic, Stearns & Foster, and Simmons Beautyrest mattresses await rigorous testing at each of their show rooms, where sleep-savvy employees can help shoppers determine if they're more suited to a firm or soft mattress or to creamy or chunky peanut butter. Back to Bed also induces relaxation in a nonhorizontal form with a selection of plush massage recliners and Human Touch's Perfect Chair, which cradles bodies in a muscularly neutral position.
The staff at K.S. Mathis Jewelers matches patrons with ideal adornments for weddings, engagements, or everyday glamour. The shop’s customization services allow fiancés to devise unique wedding bands based on size, weight, and diamond cut, and jewelry appraisals potentially save hobbits a treacherous voyage to Mordor. The staff tinkers with broken timepieces and completes repairs on site, checking pressure and replacing spent batteries. A slew of purchasable pendants, bracelets, and rings spruces up outfits for a night on the town or an attempt to outshine the sun.
olive owl organics is a natural, eco-friendly body shop infused with a funky flare. Our specialty is handmade signature soap bursting with homegrown herbs & essential oil goodness. Breathe in, exhale and relax. Other unique goodies include, body care, eco bags, baby basics and more. All made with peace and love
The Book Table is an independently-owned-and-operated bookshop that's been serving Oak Park for the past seven years. The brain baby of husband-and-wife team Jason and Rachel, the store gives literature lovers everything they might desire, from quality used books and publishers' overstock to the newest releases at discount prices. Satisfy an urge for popular fiction and bees with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest ($20.95, hardcover), the latest installment in the bestselling Millennium Trilogy, or shoot over to the obscure olio with Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever ($10.95), a short story collection by Justin Taylor. There is also a plentiful stock of paperback editions of well-loved classics, such as Moby Dick and Robinson Crusoe, as well as new graphic novel adaptations of those same literary landmarks ($7.99–$9.50). Whatever's peaking, compressing, or causing your curiosity to break out in hives, you'll find something to scratch the itch on The Book Table's numerous shelves.