Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.
322 State St., Beloit, Wis., (608) 364-4037, attic-quilts.com
wner Sally McFerren first opened her shop 16 years ago, above a gift shop in an 1880s house, four block east of her present location. “That’s where the name came from,” she says.
Two years ago, McFerren relocated to the heart of Beloit’s downtown, expanding from 4,000 square feet on two floors to 6,000 square feet, all on one level.
The new space has room for the bolts and bolts of fabric McFerren stocks, in every variety imaginable, including current patterns, flannels, wools, children’s prints, reproductions, and McFerren’s personal favorite – batik. “The variety is what most impresses people,” she says.
McFerren has a long arm quilting machine for finishing projects. She and her expert staff offer classes for all levels and can knowledgeably assist customers in their purchases. The store has a full line of supplies, from scissors, rotary cutters and thread to needles, patterns and books and notions, as well as yarn and knitting supplies.
A large round table at the front of the store is used as a meeting spot for groups; on a particular day, it’s occupied by knitters. McFerren also lets customers use the large tables for individual projects, as long as they call ahead, and every Friday is a free, open sewing day for quilters.
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Fri. to 6 p.m., Sun. to 4 p.m.
The Rustic Rooster Antiques
120 Main St., Rockton, (815) 988-9142
Tonia and Brent VenRooy opened this business in August 2013, with no retail experience between them, just Tonia’s love of antique furniture. “I’d been out of work for two years, because of a bad knee,” says Brent. “Tonia was on Craigslist, looking for furniture, and saw a listing for this.”
The couple bought the store, and renamed it. They now rent space to vendors who stock the space with items that are antique, vintage, shabby chic, primitive and handcrafted. The VenRooys also sell their own pieces.
Customers will find antique furniture, unique home decor, linens, toys, kitchenware and more. In the basement of the 1908 building, Brent has installed a working rock water fountain and is working to create a “man space,” stocked with antique tools, vintage sports equipment and other male-centered items.
The VenRooys also keep a list of things customers have asked for, to try to hunt them down if they can. Watch for new merchandise; vendor space is still available.
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. to 4:30 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m-4 p.m.
2318 E. State St., Rockford, (815) 316-2979
Shoppers will find something for every taste and budget in this eclectic garden, art and antique boutique. The shop offers easy nearby parking, personal service and a homey atmosphere.
Creatively displayed merchandise changes regularly, as owner Louise Poska is on a constant search for high-quality, one-of-a-kind items such as English-made Juliska’s Country Estate collection, intriguing topiaries and handblown glass pieces by Simon Pearce. “People were asking for it, so I ordered it,” says Poska.
Visitors will also find unique home decor, handmade jewelry, tables, chairs, lamps, statuary and more. Poska has recently added a full-service floral department, where she creates custom arrangements and centerpieces.
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Top Cut Comics
5600 N. Second St., Loves Park, (815) 633-0330, topcutcomics.com
okemon was Jimmy Ballard’s favorite game, and in days past, he attended card tournaments at this Loves Park shop, when it was called Tomorrow is Yesterday.
Today, Ballard is an owner of comic book stores in Chicago and Plainfield, Ill., who was prompted to buy his old hangout in 2010 when he learned that its previous owners were going out of business. He has fond memories of the store, and even though he’s brought in some new lines, Ballard has tried to preserve the store as it was, for its loyal customer base.
For fans of the TV show “The Big Bang Theory,” it’s a Midwestern version of Stuart’s comic book store. The main lines include, of course, comic books both new and vintage, along with popular trading card games such as Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh!, along with RPG games, board games and supplies for creating pieces for tabletop games such as Warhammer 40,000.
Also find some collectibles, from Ty Beanie Babies to action figures, kids’ comics and books. The walls are lined with licensed T-shirts sporting Dr. Who’s police box-shaped TARDIS, characters from TV shows such as “The Walking Dead,” even Sheldon’s trademark Flash logo. All this, and space to accommodate 108 gamers, with a schedule of weekly events.
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. to 10 p.m., Sun. to 7 p.m.