Shopping Awards: Readers’ choice

Readers choose their favorite shops, designers, markets, sales and store mascot.

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  • BEST STORE MASCOT Lady Frieda Harris, Alchemy Arts� resident cat
    If this cat is anything like her namesake, she probably predicted she�d be getting this award. The original Lady Frieda Harris (1877-1962) was an artist and occult magician, but she�s probably best known for contributing to the artwork of Aleister Crowley�s Thoth tarot deck. And while we can�t vouch for the cat�s artistic abilities, the feline does do a good job of welcoming shoppers at this Edgewater shop specializing in all things metaphysical. Perhaps it was a little occult magic that swayed the right amount of votes in this kitty�s direction? 1203 W Bryn Mawr Ave (773-769-4970).�Kevin Aeh
    Other nominees
    Paco the dog at Cram, Blu and Otto the dogs at Sarca, Bob the dog at Fitzgerald�s, Annabelle the dog at Mecox Gardens

  • Photograph: Zach Weiss

    BEST VINTAGE FURNITURE STORE Antique Market
    Because this Edgewater market�s initials spell out BAM, allow us to channel Emeril Lagasse as we describe it. The two-level building houses about 75 antique dealers (BAM!), and since 1990 has specialized in all things mission, Art Deco, midcentury mod, and �60s and �70s styles (BAM!). You�ll find a variety of furniture throughout the space, but the bigger pieces can usually be found upstairs. Plus, Broadway Antique Market holds a couple of great sales each year (usually in May and December), when vintage items become even more affordable�or, as Emeril would say, kicked up a notch. 6130 N Broadway (773-743-5444).�Kevin Aeh
    Other nominees
    Post 27, Salvage One, Scout, Architectural Artifacts

  • Photograph: Angela Mejia

    BEST FASHION-ACCESSORIES STORE Spare Parts
    These days it�s rare to find a small neighborhood boutique that�s been in business for more than 20 years, but East Lakeview�s Spare Parts holds that honor�and wears its age well. Shoppers turn to owners Vanessa and Donte Mearon for a great selection of accessories, including hard-to-find items such as exclusive leather bags from Village Tannery. You�ll also find jewelry by local designers, greeting cards, Cubs and White Sox cuff links, and more. Every neighborhood needs a mainstay gift shop, so we hope this one stays in business for another 20 years. 2947 N Broadway (773-525-4242).�Kevin Aeh
    Other nominees
    Sequin, Stitch, Embellish, Shrine

  • Photograph: Courtesy of Randolph Street Market

    BEST RECURRING MARKET Randolph Street Market
    You know the phrase There�s something for everyone? It might have been coined for this massive shopping fest. The European-style market (with monthly indoor-outdoor dates May through September and indoor-only markets the rest of the year) features furnishings, vintage clothing, jewelry, collectibles and more. Many of the booths are separated into categories within the market: Chicago Antique Market, Indie Designer Market and Modern Vintage. But that�s not all: Randolph Street Market (located in the parking lot of the Plumbing Industry Center and the Chicago Journeymen Plumbing building) is also home to a holiday market, a vinyl swap meet, a fancy-food market and a global-goods bazaar. Yes, it�s a lot to take in. But we dare you to stroll through this treasure trove and not end up making a purchase or five. 1340 W Washington St.�Kevin Aeh
    Other nominees
    Dose Market, Renegade Craft Fair, Design Harvest, the Vintage Bazaar

  • Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

    BEST HOME-ACCESSORIES STORE Sprout Home
    Although contemporary design often gets a bad rap for feeling cold, the modern style of this airy home-and-garden center proves otherwise. The store�s method of bridging the gap between design and flora has been so successful that it opened a second location in Brooklyn four years ago. We love the outdoor portion of the West Town outpost, where you can make use of garden-design and floral services (some are free) and check out an impressive selection of extraordinary flowers, trees and shrubbery. Inside, browse cool graphic glass bowls, fragrant soy candles and other home-decor goods. Plus, if you want to learn how to make a terrarium, you�ve come to the right place. 745 N Damen Ave (312-226-5950).�Kevin Aeh
    Other nominees
    Jayson Home, Jonathan Adler, Room Service, Pavilion Antiques

  • BEST ANNUAL SALE Jayson Home floor-model sale
    The key to a well-designed apartment�without breaking the bank�is mixing high- and low-end furniture. Finding affordable pieces is pretty simple (hello, IKEA/Target/Craigslist), but scoring a deal on a high-end, awe-inspiring addition to your home? That doesn�t happen every day. But it does occur a couple of times a year (around January and July), thanks to this popular semiannual floor-model sale, which features up to half off on furniture, accessories and vintage items. Another perk about this sale? It also takes place online, which means you and another savvy shopper don�t have to engage in a tug-of-war for a coveted item. 1885 N Clybourn Ave (773-248-8180).�Kevin Aeh
    Other nominees Multidesigner dress trunk show at Krista K, H2O Plus warehouse sale, City Soles nickel sale, Filene�s Basement�s Running of the Brides

  • BEST USED-BIKE STORE West Town Bikes
    There�s a lot more than meets the eye at West Town Bikes� Ciclo Urbano shop in Humboldt Park. Not only does it carry a sweet selection of fixed-up, affordably priced bikes, but all sales from the store support West Town Bikes� bike-education programming for local youth. A workshop in the same building is open for classes�everything from basic bike maintenance to a six-week winterization tune-up workshop, all by donation. And the list of youth programs, including internships and an after-school bike club, is endless. 2459 W Division St (773-772-4870).�Jessica Herman
    Other nominees
    A Nearly New Shop, Blue City Cycles, Working Bikes, Irv�s Bike Shop

  • Photograph: Courtesy of Topshop

    BEST CHICAGO DEBUT Topshop/Topman
    When this British retailer opened on Michigan Avenue earlier this fall, it pretty much did the opposite of a soft opening. After a long summer of topshop is coming! posters plastered all over the front of the former Borders space, Topshop made its debut with an outdoor fashion show complete with an appearance by Miley Cyrus. The opening weekend was packed with in-store DJs and exclusive-to-Chicago merch. But it�s the clothes that really stole the show: The flagship is constantly flooded with shoppers scooping up all the latest (and somewhat affordable) trends. 830 N Michigan Ave (312-280-6834).�Kevin Aeh
    Other nominees
    AllSaints, Carhartt, L.K. Bennett, Ted Baker

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    BEST CHILDREN'S STORE Psychobaby
    Although the name of this Bucktown shop might conjure images of that precious little one who kicked and screamed in the seat behind you on your last flight (let�s call him Chucky), this store is pleasant. Neighborhood parents flock to the shop for cooler-than-babyGap threads for newborns and kids up to age eight. You�ll also find trendy shoes, toys and books for your mini-me. Plus, completely sane storybook mom Nili Yellin stops by every Wednesday at 10:30am for a free story time. 1630 N Damen Ave (773-772-2815).�Kevin Aeh
    Other nominees
    Green Genes, Be By Baby, Galt Toys + Galt Baby, Twinkle Twinkle Little One

  • Photograph: Allison Williams

    BEST ONLINE RETAILER Kit This
    The women behind Kit This, the site formerly known as Twentythirtyforty, just get it. Between their magazine-like approach replete with styling tips and editorials, and their tight selection of brands�Gary Graham, Rachel Comey and Surface to Air are a few of our favorites�they�ve been nailing the online biz since 2008. Not only that, but we were thrilled to find out these two down-to-earth fortysomethings were targeting their oft-ignored age group. twentythirtyforty.net; new website coming soon, kitthis.com.�Jessica Herman
    Other nominees
    Unison, STUDY, Abe�s Market, Ashes & Milk

  • BEST ATHLETIC STORE lululemon
    The Canadian brand is known for its pant cuts that flatter ladies� backsides, and we can attest that they work. While the cost of hoodies and yoga pants runs high, the shop offers fab freebies such as weekly yoga classes at its various locations (plus yoga on the beach in summer). And if one cute workout outfit is what it takes to get us to the gym, we�re more than happy to pay the price. Locations at lululemon.com.�Jessica Herman
    Other nominees
    Niketown, Fleet Feet Sports, adidas Sport Performance, Running Away Multisport

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    BEST NEW ACCESSORIES LINE Shades of Grey
    Attalie Dexter knows a thing or two about mixing metals. This talented fledgling designer started off tinkering with jewelry more than ten years ago when she couldn�t find anything to suit her style. Now, she�s rolling out seasonal collections of jewelry composed of vintage brass and copper beads, and chains and delicate gemstones for some of our favorite shops around town, including Eskell and Post 27. Handcrafting a range of statement-making, one-of-a-kind and delicate everyday looks, Dexter is one to watch.�Jessica Herman
    Other nominees
    Cities in Dust, Fraudulent Animals, Mineralogy, Abigail Rutherford

  • Photograph: Jill Paider

    BEST VINTAGE CLOTHING STORE LuLu�s at the Belle Kay
    Whenever we feel like channeling our inner Jackie O, the first�and really only�place we consider shopping is this eight-year-old North Side shop. World-traveling proprietor Laurie Davis handpicks girly party dresses and sophisticated gowns mostly from the �30s to the �80s. The big, bold jewelry selection is unbeatable, not to mention the section of Deco rhinestone jewelry for stylish brides. 3862 N Lincoln Ave (773-404-5858).�Jessica Herman
    Other nominees
    Dovetail, Seek Vintage, Deliciously Vintage, Knee Deep

  • Photograph: Brendan Lester

    BEST ECOFRIENDLY SHOP GreenSky Home
    You�ll find this �bergreen shop just off Andersonville�s busy main drag. Everything in the colorful store is fair trade and made from recycled or repurposed items by local artists or nonprofits. And while we�re sure GreenSky is thrilled to get this honor from TOC readers, the shop will have to make room on its mantel: It was the first business in Andersonville to earn an approval rating from Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Green America and also the first to earn the highest sustainability rating from an environmental committee formed by the Andersonville Development Corporation. Really, who wouldn�t want to give an award to a store that features outdoor furniture made from recycled milk jugs, as well as toothbrushes and razors made from recycled yogurt cups? 5357 N Ashland Ave (773-275-1911).�Kevin Aeh
    Other nominees
    Grow, Greenheart Shop, Connect, Green Home Chicago Design Center

  • BEST EYEWEAR STORE Spex
    It�s nearly impossible that anyone with or without glasses could be unfamiliar with Spex, given its 16 locations in Chicagoland. With its broad range of stylish frames, there�s a lot to love. What gets us going, though, is that it doesn�t merely take over the community; it�s immersed itself in the local culture by frequently hosting art openings and running exhibitions titled Art + Vision at all of its shops. Locations at spexchicago.com.�Jessica Herman
    Other nominees Labrabbit Optics, D/Vision Optical, Contacts and Specs, Oliver Peoples

  • Photograph: Jeremy Handrup

    BEST NEW BOUTIQUE Haymaker
    When Haymaker opened earlier this year, we commented on the preponderance of home-decor shops in Andersonville. But owner Arrin Williams adds something new and desirable to the mix of mostly vintage stores in the area. Williams knows how to work this 1,500-square-foot space by showcasing a broad range of locally designed, handcrafted furniture and small goods like birdhouses and locally produced honey. Welcome to the �hood. 5507 N Clark St (773-681-0798).�Jessica Herman
    Other nominees
    FoundRe, Hazel Apparel, Trillium, Diego Rocha

  • Photograph: Nicole Radja

    BEST LOOP SHOPPING Merz Apothecary
    It made sense when this family-run apothecary business planted roots in the plaza level of the historic Palmer House Hilton one year ago. Three generations of Merzes helmed this 136-year-old business, followed by two generations of the Qaiyum family, who have overseen it for the past 39 years. The shop�s older outpost in Lincoln Square is easily three times the Loop location�s size, but the Loop shop more than covers its bases: From fancy candles and colognes to body care, baby care, old-fashioned shaving products and homeopathic goods, the selection offers plenty of distractions for a mid-afternoon work break. 17 E Monroe St (312-781-6900).�Jessica Herman
    Other nominees
    Chicago Architecture Foundation, Florodora, Michelle Tan, ShopColumbia

BEST STORE MASCOT Lady Frieda Harris, Alchemy Arts� resident cat
If this cat is anything like her namesake, she probably predicted she�d be getting this award. The original Lady Frieda Harris (1877-1962) was an artist and occult magician, but she�s probably best known for contributing to the artwork of Aleister Crowley�s Thoth tarot deck. And while we can�t vouch for the cat�s artistic abilities, the feline does do a good job of welcoming shoppers at this Edgewater shop specializing in all things metaphysical. Perhaps it was a little occult magic that swayed the right amount of votes in this kitty�s direction? 1203 W Bryn Mawr Ave (773-769-4970).�Kevin Aeh
Other nominees
Paco the dog at Cram, Blu and Otto the dogs at Sarca, Bob the dog at Fitzgerald�s, Annabelle the dog at Mecox Gardens

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