- Ellewee clog booties by Coclico, $435 at City Soles
Even though you always probably called it City Soles anyway, the shoe store at the corner of North, Damen, and Milwaukee was actually two boutiques in one—Niche, dedicated to higher-end lines, and City Soles, offering slightly more affordable styles. While on the outside, the boutique looked to be divided in half, with Niche facing Damen and City Soles facing Milwaukee, inside, puzzlingly, there was no obvious demarcation between the two. Last week the store sent out an email announcing that Niche is no more—for the most part. Owner Scott Starbuck explained that when he originally opened the Wicker Park location in 1996, he offered funkier shoes and “crazy platforms” for the hipsters and artistic folk flooding the area. As the neighborhood changed, he devised Niche to offer more upscale, sophisticated designs. “It worked,” he said, “but it confused our customers.” The mix of brands at the store won’t change, just its official name.