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Time Out Love Chicago Awards 2014: the top local shops

The top neighborhood shops in Chicago—as voted by you—in the South Side, North Side, downtown, Near North Side and more

As thorough as our critics are, nobody knows the city’s restaurants, coffee shops, bars, stores, storefront theaters and music venues like Time Out readers.

With this in mind, back in October we launched the Love Chicago Awards to find out more about the local businesses that make your area of the city incredible. Now, after an intense voting period in which nearly 7,000 of you had your all-important say, it’s our great pleasure to reveal the restaurants you love above all others. There were a few close calls (and a few freakin’ landslides), but through it all one thing was clear: Chicagoans are truly passionate about their neighborhoods.

All of which just leaves us to say congratulations to all of this year’s winners, and a hearty thanks to everyone who voted. Now get out there and show your winners some love.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of Time Out Love Chicago Awards winners

Top local shops

DOWNTOWN: Pastoral

Small-batch artisan cheeses are cut to order at this friendly, well-stocked wine-and-cheese shop. Menu items, like the London Calling sandwich of smoked Scottish salmon, cucumber and quark spread, are perfect for a quick lunch in one of the handful of seats on the outdoor patio, and the to-go picnic baskets (choose from cheese-, meat- and Bavarian-focused packages, among many other styles) are perfect for a Millennium Park concert.

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Loop

FAR NORTH SIDE: Gethsemane Garden Center

This Andersonville plant mecca is known for its warm, quiet nursery, where you can commune with nature by strolling among the vibrant cyclamens, orchids and begonias, and the fountain filled with colorful koi. The store also offers a variety of outdoor furniture made of weather-resistant materials, such as cast aluminum, wrought iron, resin wicker, teak, hardwoods and tubular steel. Plus, you can even custom-design your own cushions and pillows here.

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Edgewater

NORTH SIDE: Merz Apothecary

Boasting the city’s largest collection of natural and luxury soaps under one roof, this jam-packed, homeopathic pharmacy/beauty boutique is literally filled to capacity with lotions, soaps, candles, vitamins and other feel-good therapies. In addition to products such as Archipelago Botanicals candles and Maria Evora soaps and salts, the charming, 138-year-old shop also has a section where you can blend your own healing oils.

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Lincoln Square
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NEAR NORTH SIDE: The Spice House

That heavenly, heady smell of spices on this stretch of Old Town can be attributed to Patty Erd, the daughter of Milwaukee’s royal spice family, the Penzeys. Patty and husband Tom inherited the biz, expanded to Chicago and have been the go-to for bakers and cooks seeking seasoning for decades. Stock up on staples like sea salt and whole peppercorns, plus learn the difference between cinnamons (there are many) while splurging on saffron and snacking on crystallized ginger.

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Old Town

SOUTH SIDE: Modern Co-op

A favorite for vintage hunters, Modern Co-op is known for its well-chosen selection of midcentury-modern furniture. The shop also shows strong support for local designers by featuring the works of artists who create pieces using repurposed materials.

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Pilsen

NORTHWEST SIDE: Logan Hardware

In spite of its name, you won’t find saw blades or power drills at this Logan Square shop, though you might be able to pick up the latest albums from Tool or Nine Inch Nails. Retaining the name of its former location (which now houses the Logan Arcade), Logan Hardware stocks new and used records in addition to refurbished turntables and stereo receivers. Make a purchase and your receipt will include a code that unlocks a nondescript door at the back of the store, giving you access to room filled with vintage pinball machines and arcade cabinets, all set to free play.

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Logan Square
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WEST TOWN: Sprout Home

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Although contemporary design often gets slapped with the “cold” label, the modern style of this airy home and garden center proves otherwise. Outside, make use of free garden design services and an impressive selection of extraordinary flowers, trees, and shrubbery. Inside, browse Eames peel-and-stick wall graphics, graphic glass bowls and fragrant Circa soy candles.

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River West/West Town

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