In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their children's development, their kids learn to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.
Established around 1937, American Science & Surplus, a science-related hobby store, equips curious customers with gadgets that fulfill educational pursuits. For customers working on science experiments, the shop carries lab supplies and equipment such as burner stands, microscopes, and petri dishes. Tinkerers can pick up spare parts for their projects, such as power adapters or wheels to help with building model cars or turning TV remote controls into cat toys. The shop's inventory also includes robot parts, school and art supplies, and home accessories such as flexible chopping mats, cheeseburger-shaped kitchen timers, and desk toys.
Akira swaddles customers from clavicle to toe with a collection of trendy apparel from more than 200 designer brands crafted by foreign, domestic, and Chicago fabricsmiths. Women, men, and mannequins can browse a selection of clothing and accessories that includes the signature looks of Jeffrey Campbell and Boy London. Akira has cooperated with such endeavors as Generation Y, which fosters artistic expression in Chicago public schools.
Cigar King caters to smoke-savvy shoppers with a wide selection of cigars, cigar accessories, and more in a welcoming shop accented with cozy leather chairs and classic hardwood floors. Browse cigars from brands such as Ancient Warrior, Ashton, and Baccarat and pick them up by the box, bundle, five-pack, cubic busload, or sampler. Puff-happy patrons can check out an Alec Bradley family sampler ($34.95) or a CAO Conmemorativo collection ($40.95), and world-traveling inhalers can fume their way across the globe with an Xtreme travel humidor ($19.95). Light lip logs in style with an Evertech triple torch lighter ($34.95), or put out stogies and unexpected mustache fires with a leaf-shaped Boca Grande Maduro ashtray ($19.95).
The Skeleton Store readies abodes for Halloween with an exclusive line of fake bones and skulls produced by Bucky’s Boneyard. From full-size, anatomically correct skeletons to severed heads wearing ghastly expressions, the shop’s ample supply of spooky accessories equips a home’s every nook and cranny with things that go bump in the night. Many of the Skeleton Store’s models and props are battery operated to light up, emit scary noises, or come groaning to life like a zombie summoned from beyond the grave or an elderly man prodded awake on the bus.