Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.
The White Trunk
1706 Rural St., Rockford, (815) 397-4720, thewhitetrunk.com
Outside the white stucco building with brown wooden trim are porcelain and channel letters for signs, an old door and various other vintage and repurposed pieces.
Tracy Grisanzio opened her unique shop in May, filling the small space with a selection of old and new, from vintage suitcases, food scales and cabinets to special furniture-painting supplies and hard-to-find retail items.
“It’s a hobby gone haywire,” she says. “I’ve been a collector and painter forever, and started restoring pieces in my home. My father owns this building, and I use it as a workshop and to store things that won’t fit at home.”
With no room to park her car in the garage, Grisanzio decided it was time to start selling some of her collection. She offers restored dressers and cabinets, wooden chairs, window frames and more, along with many vintage and older rescued items for repurpose as home décor. She also carries the Annie Sloan brand of decorative furniture paint, which adheres to any surface and good for faux finishes, and Scout brand totes.
Grisanzio keeps a request book for those looking for something specific, and she’s available for custom paint jobs.
Hours: Tues-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. to 4 p.m.
Bobby’s Stateline Hobbies
250 Allen St., Clinton, Wis., (608) 676-6155, bobbysstatelinehobbies.com
Robert Mitchell began by selling model trains at shows and out of his home. As he spent more time with these hobbyists, he discovered that many were also interested in model airplanes, cars, ships and more.
After opening the store in 2002, he expanded into radio controlled items, scenery, figures – a hobby store for just about any enthusiast. Bobby’s stocks O, S, HO and N scale trains and all of the needed electronics. Bobby’s is an authorized Lionel Value Added dealer and authorized MTH dealer. Visitors will find old and new Lionel trains, American Flyer, Rail King, Broadway Limited and more, along with all of the major brands for accessories and foliage.
Also in stock are plastic models, RC helicopters, cars and boats, and both die cast and slot car sets. “If we don’t have it, we can definitely order it for you,” says Mitchell.
Hours: Tues.-Wed. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Thu. & Sat. 11 a.m.- 6p.m.; Fri. to 8 p.m.
207 E. State St., Cherry Valley, Ill., (815) 332-1890, tinksnook.info
You’ll be amazed by the bounty of beads stocked by owner Deb Zandonatti. And don’t be surprised to find her engaged in a one-on-one beading lesson.
The former hairdresser got hooked by the craft 20 years ago, while taking metalsmith class at Rock Valley College. “I need one bead to finish a project, and I came here,” she says. “I ended up working for the former owners, and I opened three months after they closed.”
The building is more than 100 years old. “I took out a drop ceiling to reveal the stamped tin ceiling, and outside, I removed the corrugated metal facade to reveal the brick,” Zandonatti says.
That was seven years ago. Zandonatti handpicks every bead style, so that she can carry a wide selection of many one-of-a-kind designs. She also sells by the gram, rather than requiring customers to buy a prepackaged quantity; the back wall is lined with clear glass jars of seed beads in every color imaginable. She carries all of the tools and supplies as well.
“I want my customers to feel comfortable when they come here,” says Zandonatti. She teaches everything from stringing basics to advanced metal fabrication, individually and in classes.
Hours: Tues. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Wed.-Thurs. noon-6 p.m.; Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Big Scoop & Otter Creek Peddlers
422 Center St., Durand, Ill., (815) 248-2300
This shop, on the west side of the downtown roundabout, almost directly across from the public gazebo, is an institution in town, offering merchandise and sweets.
It’s where folks get lunch, choosing from a large menu that offers tasty sandwiches like Italian beef and hearty homemade soups. It’s also the place to go for hand-dipped ice cream treats, as a cool refreshment on a summer afternoon or a victory celebration for local ball teams after evening games.
Owner Linda Schaaf, now 64, a Durand resident since age 3, loves her small town, and she and her husband are proud of the service they provide. That’s why, after selling the business twice, they took it back both times, when the buyers couldn’t follow through with payments.
“People tell us, ‘Don’t close,’” she says.
Schaaf carries small-batch chocolates from Minnesota and serves Cedar Crest ice cream made in Wisconsin. Adults seem to favor the butter pecan and mint chocolate chip flavors, while kids prefer the multicolored Superman and Blue Moon.
Otter Creek Peddlers offers crafts, handmade items and merchandise from local vendors on consignment. “We like to support the community,” says Schaaf.
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 4-9 p.m.