Blackstone Bicycle Works Blackstone fixes and tunes up bikes for a reasonable price, sells used and refurbished bikes and used parts, and stocks new merchandise like lights, locks, helmets, and pumps. Housed in the Experimental Station (see Martha Bayne’s story about the 61st Street Community Gardens in the front of this issue), it also runs an after-school youth bicycle-education program (see also Volunteering).
DJ’s Bike Doctor, Inc Established in 2008, DJ’s is a small, friendly bike shop that sells new bikes and accessories but specializes in repairs. Owner David Jones, who’s been in the bike biz for 30 years, is often on hand to share his knowledge. Summer hours will start in the next few weeks, depending on the weather; in the meantime winter hours apply.
Drawers Intimates Located on an out-of-the-way corner, this sex-toy shop began as a lingerie store nearly two decades ago. There’s still lingerie on the shelves, but the store now also carries a variety of dildos, vibrators, XXX movies, board games, flavored condoms, and edibles. Prices are reasonable (vibrators under $30 and all movies $25 and under).
Fair Trader Chicago Started in 2007 by three friends who began serving fair-trade coffee over at First Unitarian Church, this modest, friendly shop stocks fair-trade clothes, jewelry, home decor, and gifts. Fresh goodies arrive every two weeks; locals stop in to browse the new wares and sometimes just to chat with the owners.
Freehling Pot and Pan Student-kitchen outfitters should probably head to IKEA, but serious cooks may want to shell out for the quality cookware here. Nifty gadgets, books, linens, and a small but fascinating selection of spices guarantee some quality window shopping.
Hyde Park Hair Salon Famed for its services to the president, this salon and barber shop boasts other celebrity clients too, including Devin Hester and Spike Lee. In addition to the basics, it offers specialty cuts, tints, and dyes. Still, the 83-year-old institution has remained unassuming, and while it can get busy, a big screen that shows the game helps pass the time. It’s currently the subject of an art exhibit at Hidden Pearl Gallery (see Art & Museums).
Parker’s Pets Hyde Park’s only pet boutique draws customers from inside and outside the neighborhood for its wide selection of hard-to-find goods, including human-grade pet food, organic catnip toys, Himalayan yak- and cow-milk dog chews, Swedish dog puzzles, chihuahua-size Ed Hardy hoodies, and the elusive Dog Beer. Food delivery is available for a fee.
Plants Alive Established in the 60s, this “potted plant gallery” carries a dense jungle plants and trees. They also carry gift baskets and can create floral arrangements for parties and weddings. Because the store is in the process of moving, it’s currently open by appointment only (and there’s no new address or estimated opening date yet).
Sensual Steps Presided over by “Shoe Professa” Nicole Jones since 2005, this boutique offers reasonably priced but fashion-forward stilettos, boots, and sandals, plus a few accessories like purses and fur hats. Jones is also behind Pillars of Slippers, traveling shoe parties that she recently pitched on the entrepreneurial reality show Shark Tank.
Tati Cycles A bicycle “boutique” in Barack Obama’s old state senate office—all 100 square feet of it—run by owner Jay, who loves, lives, and breathes bikes. This isn’t where you go to buy a Trek off the rack: Tati specializes in custom steeds and wheels, plus bike parts and “classic” riding and racing duds. Appointments are required for all service work, and because the tiny shop has a limited capacity, existing customers are given priority. There’s free tea and cookies for those waiting.
Toys et Cetera Opened in 1976 by a local schoolteacher, this is a retreat to the days of Radio Flyer wagons, board games, and home-produced puppet shows; there’s even a wooden train set for kids to play with. Gamers and electronics addicts may want to take a pass. There are also locations in Lincoln Park, Andersonville, and Evanston.
Wesley’s Shoe Corral Started in the 1970s, Wesley’s is an old-fashioned shoe store that emphasizes comfort and personalization. Brands range from Dansko and Birkenstock to Wolky and SAS, or if you prefer to stuff your comfort in something more fashionable, for about $50 you can get fitted for Aetrex orthotics. Kids have their own section, with a popcorn maker and tutus and other ballet gear.
What the Traveler Saw Owned by avid globe-trotter Laurel Stradford, who buys her wares while traveling, this tranquil, pricey little shop carries an eclectic selection of items including gorgeous soap stones, antiques, and reuseable bags from countries like Morocco and China.
Wheels & Things This bike shop, according to its blindingly red Web site, caters “to the intellectually challenged University of Chicago students, faculty, and staff.” It also specializes in women’s bikes, carrying saddles, clothing, and bicycles from Terry Precision Bicycles for Women along with men’s bikes, parts, accessories, and clothing.