Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.
505 N. State St., Marengo, (815) 814-5075, bulldogantiques.net
Hardly a day that goes by when Chuck Follett doesn’t think about his English Bulldog, Misty. Follett’s Marengo antiques store has many reminders of the bulldog who died two years ago, at age 13.
“When I first started talking about opening an antique shop, I told my wife that I wanted to have my bulldog with me,” says Follett, who co-owns the store with Don Rose. “She is always with me.”
A large photo of Misty welcomes people into the store. Small, antique bulldog artifacts are hidden around the shop.
Bulldog Antiques specializes in high-quality vintage and antique items, largely from the 1950s and ‘60s. Commonly found items include antique razors, signs, glassware and Christmas decorations. Follett says the items come from auctions, flea markets and other sales.
“Everything in this shop was created before 1965,” Follett says. “We are a real, unique antique shop. If you go to a lot of antique shops, they just have a lot of junk. “
Before launching the business in 2016, Follett and his wife, Dale, had been collecting antiques for many years.
Roughly 60 percent of the items found in the store are sold on retail. The remaining 40 percent are sold on consignment.
Spring Hours: Fri.-Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Summer hours: Thurs.-Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
725 N. Brinton Ave., Dixon, Ill. (417) 209-0664, rusticrootsil.com
If you need a custom piece of vintage or farmhouse-style decor, chances are good that Amy Nicklaus and team can make it for you.
Nicklaus spent months making tables, signs, benches and other décor on her own, before opening the store last Spring.
“This started out as a hobby and I did it for myself,” she says. “I started by making signs in my house and folks wanted to buy them. I was working in a dental office and I had to quit that job to keep up with this job.”
Her shop is filled with handmade signs, furniture, jewelry, bags and more. Nicklaus has a love for vintage and rusty farmhouse pieces.
“I love being creative and doing things with my hands,” she says.
Because of demand, she recently moved her store from a 500-square-foot space to her current 2,500-square-foot location, which has a workshop on site. She has hired a team of employees to help fulfill demand.
Nicklaus also holds workshops to teach people how to create some of the wooden signs in her store.
“I’ve turned my love of decorating my own home into helping others love their homes as well,” she says.
Hours: Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Pizzazz Gift Boutique
313 State St., Beloit, (608) 365-6660, pizzazzbeloit.com
Pizzazz Gift Boutique is serious about meeting the evolving style needs of its customers. Founded 11 years ago, the boutique offers a diverse mix of women’s clothing, accessories, home goods and gifts that are as fun to give as they are to receive.
“We wanted to be our own bosses, so we just decided to open this store,” says Christine Drake, who owns the business with her sister-in-law, Anjanette Aumann. “We’ve worked in retail for a long time and we thought it would be fun.”
The store specializes in comfortable and stylish women’s fashion, fun accessories and gift items such as jewelry, handbags and candles.
“We’ve tried to add what our customers wanted,” Drake says. “When we first started, we didn’t carry clothing and now we carry a lot of clothing. This is what people wanted when they came in here.”
One thing that separates this boutique from big-box stores is the uniqueness of the merchandise. Everything you’ll find in this place is one-of-a-kind, so you won’t run into the dreaded outfit twin.
“We don’t carry a large amount of one item,” Drake says. And the inventory changes constantly.
Hours: Tues.-Fri. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Petals & Pickin’s
4616 E. State St., Rockford, (815) 977-4883, facebook.com/petalsandpickins
At Petals & Pickin’s, Melody Layng is the marketing director, sales clerk, buyer, delivery driver and designer.
“I do it all,” Layng says with a laugh. She opened her business three years ago. “I have an eclectic mix of items, including fresh flowers, home and garden décor, vintage finds, handbags, candles and other gifts,” she says.
Layng has worked in flower shops before, but she wanted one she could call her own.
She also has developed a therapy workshop program that she runs at nursing homes, senior centers and assisted-living facilities.
“Flower therapy is an eye opener that draws people out of their shells and helps them to remember things. If they have aches and pains, they forget about them because they’re so zoned into the beauty of the flowers.”
She also hosts ladies’ night out, Girl Scout and birthday party workshops in her store.
After three years of running the shop, Layng is thankful for her loyal clientele.
“I want to show my kids and grandkids that, no matter how old you are, if you have a dream, you need to chase it, run with it, never give up on it and, most importantly, always believe in yourself.”
Hours: Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.