LuLu’s at the Belle Kay
The fanciest clothier on the strip, this high-end women’s boutique is named after owner Laurie Demma-Davis’s late poodle, LuLu, and the building’s original tenant from the 1940s, the Belle Kay dress shop. Speaking of dresses, we love the 1980s cocktail number with a sequined floral pattern ($228). On the alternative-bridal-gown rack, one striking Neiman Marcus dress (dubbed “the Grace Kelly”) gleams with constellations of prong-set rhinestones ($395). Meanwhile, LuLu’s large jewelry collection ranges from understated to over-the-top. The shopkeepers have a story for almost everything, such as how advances in astronomy in the 1930s (hello, Pluto!) likely inspired that era’s meteor fur clip ($128). 3862 N Lincoln Ave (773-404-5858).
European immigrants and Czech Republic travelers might recognize some of the wares at Praha, which is Czech for Prague. Co-owners Todd Nyenhuis and David Foster travel there once a year, collecting pieces such as the wartime plaque bearing a blessing for the home: Dej Buh stestí (rough translation: “May God bless you”; $42). The spacious store, which pipes in vintage crooners like Ella Fitzgerald, used to focus heavily on Czech imports; now it mixes in American vintage and a few anomalous new items, like candles and salad dressings. Tucked amid all the handsome furniture are quirky sundries such as a five-piece set of old-school backyard water-faucet handles ($17). 3849 N Lincoln Ave (773-549-1227).
Carlos and Sarah’s Surplus of Options
College-age proprietors Carlos Chavarria and Sarah Kraut run this scrappy ten-month-old outfit. The front room focuses on men’s and women’s clothes; we dig the ochre suede cloak ($40) and the array of heavy-duty belt buckles ($10–$30), plus the bowlful of Nixon buttons ($3 each) and all the quirky art on the walls. The back room is packed with tchotchkes, kitchenware, books and even a display of tools, which we’re pretty sure came from your dad’s garage. 3664 N Lincoln Ave (773-827-1330).
An even newer addition to the strip, Thriftgeek moved to Lincoln Avenue a month ago from Evanston. Its sizable board-game collection boasts a 1964 edition of Monopoly ($20), plus plenty of obscure games such as Dig ($10), with art featuring Monopoly’s moneybags man. For even older-school fun, check out the 8mm films, such as Laurel & Hardy reels, for $10. 3858 N Lincoln Ave (773-297-7169).
Albums (Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4, $6.99) and snazzy framed posters (Pink Floyd black-and-white promo shot from the late ’60s, $74) adorn the walls at this small used-vinyl shop (with a side collection of CDs and videos). Be sure to check out the turntables: A refurbished Denon ($45) will allow you to play those records. 3819 N Lincoln Ave (773-529-1932).
WORTH A SIDE TRIP
More vintage and antiquing awaits in Lincoln Square, about a mile north on Lincoln Avenue. Highlights in that ’hood include Laurie’s Planet of Sound(4639 N Lincoln Ave, 773-271-3569), whose vintage rock-and-pop vinyl collection ranges from the obscure (12-inch “I Eat Cannibals” single by ’80s one-hit wonders Total Coelo, $9.99) to the mainstream (“Song Sung Blue” 45 by Neil Diamond, 49 cents). You can hunt for 8-track and VHS tapes, too. Across the street lies our favorite jam-packed used-toy shop, Quake(4628 N Lincoln Ave, 773-878-4288). Look up, past the Star Wars and superhero action figures, and peruse the collection of vintage lunch boxes. They’re so cool, we almost want to go back to school just to carry around the ’60s Batman and Robin metal lunch box with matching thermos ($175).