Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.
117 W. Prairie St., Marengo, (815) 568-0590, hyperstitch.com
Not long ago, Sara White was a regular customer at this Marengo embroidery shop. Then Pat Lawlor made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. She asked her if she wanted to purchase the business.
Lawlor had founded Hyperstitch 20 years before. It specializes in custom logo wear and gear for companies, sports teams and individuals.
White figures it was her salesman-like personality, coupled with her MBA from Roosevelt University, that made her a natural fit for HyperStitch. She took over from Lawlor in January 2018.
“At the time it seemed crazy,” White says. “But I was afraid that it would get sold to someone out of town, and I really wanted HyperStitch to stay local.”
White uses in-house embroidery and screen press machines to create custom designs on T-shirts, baby blankets, even golf bags. Parents and students often purchase spirit wear from the HyperStitch showroom.
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-noon.
The Village Bakery
101 N. Third St. Oregon, Ill. (815) 732-3830, thevillagebakery.org
The best aromas in downtown Oregon waft from the Village Bakery, which serves up fresh baked goods, homemade soups, coffees, frozen drinks and ice cream seven days a week. And if the sweet pies, muffins, donuts, cakes, cookies and other treats aren’t enough to entice you, the spacious, warm and contemporary atmosphere just might.
The real icing on the cake, however, is the double purpose this bakery serves. It employs many developmentally disabled adults from Ogle County in conjunction with the Village of Progress, a nonprofit that’s dedicated to their wellbeing. Through various entrepreneurial endeavors, including the bakery, these hardworking disabled adults raise enough money to fund half of the budget and services the Village of Progress provides.
Jackie Fransen, who has a deep background in the food service industry, manages The Village Bakery.
“We definitely are ‘baking a difference’ in the lives of our employees as well as our community and everyone who walks through our bakery’s doors,” she says.
Hours are Mon.-Fri. 6 a.m.-5 p.m and weekends 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
Her Side, My Side
109 W. Main St. Rockton, Ill. (815) 519-2280, herside/myside.etsy.com
Sisters Sarah Sabbe and Toni Weldon opened this playful shop last October and appear to be having plenty of fun with it.
“When did all this stuff we grew up with become ‘vintage’ treasure?” Weldon jokes. “What does that make us?”
“Re-Purchased, Re-Purposed and Re-Loved” is the store theme. While there are plenty of high-quality vintage items, there’s also a smattering of everything else, from 125 pairs of gently used cowboy boots to Sarah’s hand-made leather jewelry, candles, wooden signs, plates and sparkling mobiles cleverly constructed from mirrors or pounded silverware.
Those who adore industrial, western and mid-century looks will find gems like Edison bulb lamps, leather belts, flannel shirts, wooden toy blocks, 1930s typewriters, suitcases, Thermos coolers, clocks, pitchers, collectible books, dolls, wreaths, frames and vases. What could be a cluttered hodgepodge in less talented hands somehow comes together enjoyably.
New this spring is a whimsical backyard area filled with lawn ornaments, vintage tools, flowerpots, colorful bowling balls and much more.
Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. every other Thurs.-Sat. because “We spend a lot of time on the road hunting for new items,” says Sabbe. “That’s why there’s always something different here when you visit.”
Angelus Home, Garden, Lifestyle
325 Kensoha St., Walworth, Wis., (414) 815-6638 angeluslife.com
If you haven’t been to Angelus lately, you’re in for a surprise. The shop has expanded exponentially since sisters Jeannene Clark and Theresa La Londe Horvath opened it in 2011. Today there’s room after charming room of artfully displayed, on-trend inventory, from urban chic and lake cottage to rustic farmhouse home décor, garden ware and furniture, much of it repurposed. There’s also a good deal of artwork, a full line of chalk paint, specialty clothing, jewelry, Bible-inspired items, candles, scents, greeting cards and other paper goods. Amazingly, it all co-exists peacefully in rooms that invite you to roam.
“We fill a niche for a shop that’s a little more affordable, but still very stylish, with an emphasis on re-purposed items,” says Clark. “We just hate seeing things go into the dump.”
The self-proclaimed “junksta sisters” offer workshops on chalk painting, glazing and other restoration techniques as well as many forms of crafting. ‘Angelus’ is both the name of a Catholic prayer and the title of a painting by French artist Jean-Francois Millet. The painting depicts two peasants in a field bowing their heads in prayer and is a favorite of the shopkeeper sisters, who grew up with 10 brothers and two more sisters.
“We were each in a different location when the idea for the name ‘Angelus’ came to both of us on the same day,” says Clark. “It just seemed like it was meant to be.”
Hours: Sun. & Mon. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Wed.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays.