Most popular offering: Alley logo T-shirts and piercing jewelry
Walk-ins Welcome: Yes
Good for Kids: Yes
Staff Size: 11–25 people
Parking: Metered street parking
Handicap Accessible: No
Pro Tip: Stop in the area to have a great beer and loosen up. This is like visiting the circus—smile and enjoy.
Q&A with Mark Thomas, Owner
What sets your business apart from your competition?
The combination of our four stores under one roof. We carry many one-of-a-kind items.
What was the inspiration for starting this business?
I was 17 and struggling with school when I fell into the opportunity to buy a business. I grabbed the savings bonds bought for me at birth, bought the business, and never looked back
What is the best reaction you’ve ever gotten from a customer?
We have been here for 40-plus years. People come in all the time and, in this time of many stores closing, they say, " We are so glad you are still here."
What’s your favorite part about your job?
I love to go out and source one-of-a-kind items.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
Go read my bio on the site. It is fun and gritty and the story of great success for small business in America.
In 1980, tattoos were still the sole province of the slightly edgy, and standards for tattoo parlors varied widely. Even so, when "Fat Joe" Scapini opened Jade Dragon Tattoo, he sought to set a new benchmark for cleanliness as well as quality, inventing a "toss-a-tube" system that begins each tattoo with fresh ink and a brand-new barrel and tube. Though Joe passed away in 2007, his wife and children continue to work with the shop's 12 artists and six body piercers to maintain the high standard of sterility, still using the same system the founder invented. Tattoo seekers work with the artists to develop custom designs, or they can choose to reference one of more than one million pieces of flash, or premade designs. The shop also performs traditional and dermal piercings on ears, noses, lips, or other creative places, such as the ear but a little off-center. While their bodies are being turned into works of art, clients can gaze at the riot of designs and other artifacts—animal masks, neon signs, golden dragons, and a jackalope among them—that cover the shop's electric-blue walls.
Brands Used: Botox, Juvederm, Obagi, PCA, Neocutis, Sciton Laser Technology
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Staff Size: 11–25
Parking: Parking lot
Minimum Age Requirement: 18
Pro Tip: Ask questions—we have a very knowledgeable and friendly staff.
Q&A with the Aestheticians
People go to spas to forget about the outside world. How does your decor help create an atmosphere where visitors can unwind?
We offer a modern and warm, yet professional, medical environment. All three of our offices feature free wifi, refreshments, and elegant decor. Our Chicago facility has its own parking lot.
Do you use any products or brands you're particularly proud of? What makes them uniquely effective?
Our products help improve the appearance of all types of skin imperfections. They are clinically proven products designed to help revitalize, enhance, and maintain healthy skin for life. We stock Obagi, Neocutis, PCA, and Jane Iredale Cosmetics. Additionally, we offer Sciton laser treatments for facial rejuvenation or laser hair removal. We also started offering the new VI Peel.
What is one fun, unusual fact about your business?
We have a medical side that specializes in varicose vein treatment that is often covered by insurance, in addition to the plastic surgery and medical spa services.
During more than 20 years as a nail artist, Maureen Donlan has encountered dozens of women. She noticed how busy many of her clients were and how difficult it was for them to fit in a simple manicure during a hectic day. When she discovered permanent makeup, she knew it was the answer to many of these women's troubles—something that could let them get through an entire day without once checking their lipstick in the mirror. Maureen became certified in permanent makeup in 2004 and never looked back.
At Amazing Faces, Maureen offers today's women an alternative to traditional cosmetics. With safe and meticulous techniques, she adds permanent flair to lips, eyes, and eyebrows and performs corrective work and scar camouflaging to conceal evidence of past accidents or surgeries. She also boosts blinks with eyelash tinting and extensions to provide defense from lecherous butterflies. In addition, Maureen calls upon her past to shape and groom nails before coating them in standard or gel polishes.
In Focus: Chicago Ink Tattoo and Body Piercing
What they do: exactly what the name says—tattoos and body piercings
Their tattoo styles: black-on-gray portraits, lettering, Japanese designs, tribal designs, and pretty much any other art that can be created by putting ink to skin
What the shop looks like: an art studio or cafe more than a tattoo parlor; paintings and sketches line the walls, and leather couches surround a chessboard in the waiting room
Where you can see their work: online galleries for tattoo artists including Omar and body piercing artists including Rossmery
What’s in their glass display cases: all manner of jewelry to complement body piercings
Other things to know: don’t get too much sun while your tattoo heals, and yes, it’s common to tip tattoo artists (though not required)
For more than 30 years, Embassy Studios' technicians have cultivated flourishing heads of hair with a multitude of services, ranging from laser treatments to custom hairpieces to surgical transplants. They help healthy strands sprout from the scalps of men and women, working to seamlessly imbue strong, natural-looking tresses into thinning or balding manes. Embassy Studios also offers Neo Graft hair transplants, which aim to provide a more natural-looking hairline without scarring, staples, or sutures. The team also devises thoughtful, personalized hair-restoration plans for clients undergoing medically related hair loss. Services are also bolstered by a resident crew of stylists, who can guide customers toward flattering 'dos and appropriate products and dole out proper-care tips, such what kind of gloves to wear when cleaning locks with bleach.