Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.
Steel Heart Ltd.
208 W. Front St., Harvard, (815) 943-3465, steelheartlimited.com
In the former Starline Factory in Harvard, erected in 1883, is located this unique purveyor of handcrafted steel décor for home and garden. The 50,000-square-foot showroom is packed with trellises, arbors, benches and chairs, birdbaths, bakers racks, topiaries, statuary, wire baskets, wall hangings, baskets, yard art, even wrought iron trees. Everything is made out of metal, except the hand-chiseled stone pieces and antiques.
Owners Jacek and Gretchen Peczkowski opened the business in 1997. A native of Poland, Jacek has a background in robotics and the automotive industry. His grandfather was a blacksmith, so metalwork is in Jacek’s blood. While selling their house, the couple found that prospective buyers were especially interested in the furniture and décor that Jacek had designed and built, and so Steel Heart Ltd. was born. While Jacek still designs most of the pieces, the manufacturing is now outsourced.
Open year-round, the store also offers seasonal items. Hours: Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. ❚
The Purple Onion
N2460 County Trunk O, Delavan, Wis., (262) 728-7944
Located next to Millie’s Restaurant, nestled among quaint shops in a quiet, country setting, this nook actually houses four crannies in one.
In Kitchen Connection II are all manner of upscale and unusual gadgets, such as wine aerators, specialty bakeware, sushi mats, ramekins, ravioli presses, cruet sets and onion-shaped onion keepers. The Unique Boutique stocks boutique clothing, jewelry, purses, scarves and other accessories that follow the latest fashion trends but won’t be found at big chain stores.
The Local Artisans section features handcrafted jewelry, pottery, photography and more created by area craftspeople. In the Consignment Closet, hunt through high-quality, gently used women’s clothing, purses and accessories for retro looks and screamin’ deals.
Hours: Tues-Sun 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; daily July-August. ❚
Cherry Creek Cottage
106 N. Madison St., Elizabeth, Ill., (815) 858-2422, cherrycreekcottage.com
Owner Sally Wurster has been in the retail business since 1973, and she’s good at it. Her hard-to-find shop features hard-to-find, special and unique items that fulfill almost any customer’s needs.
Located just off east Myrtle, in an 1894 former hotel, Cherry Creek Cottage is surrounded by gardens outside and filled with treasures inside. Wurster attends buying shows throughout the year, in search of fresh merchandise to bring in. “I like to move things around, and change displays often, so that customers get to see new things,” she says.
Find home décor; linens; bakeware and other kitchen items, including Fiestaware and Enamelware; and body and skincare products from Baudelaire and Crabtree & Evelyn.
Among the extensive line of collectibles: Lang & Wise folk art villages, Lefton Colonial Village, Big Sky Bearfoots and Big Sky Carvers, and Hudson pewter villagers. Then there are puzzles, jewelry, gift wrap, throw pillows and more. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask – Wurster will do her best to find it for you.
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. ❚
211 W. Water St., Shullsburg, Wis., (608) 965-3088. coughlinshops.com/risken-leeshops.html
his shopping treasure trove is housed in one of the oldest buildings in this historic lead mining town. The Greek Revival-style structure was built in 1842 by Illinois merchant Edward Vaughn, who ran his store downstairs and rented rooms upstairs to miners.
Over the decades it’s been a bakery, millinery, plumbing storage and pool hall. Husband-and-wife owners Roger and the late Patricia Duffey brought the building full circle, opening the retail shops in 2000 and completing restoration in 2002.
The huge space contains women’s boutique clothing, watches, purses and accessories; Annaleece jewelry; Crabtree & Evelyn skincare; Willow Tree; Tyler Candles; home textiles; photo frames; lamps; wall hangings; and other home décor. Find one-of-a-kind gifts for that special friend, greeting cards, gift wrap and more.
Also, the rental rooms upstairs have been renovated into three specialty suites of authentic rustic charm, outfitted with all the modern amenities.
Shop hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. ❚