Nooks & Crannies, Spring Edition

Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.

Salvaged by Sonya
110 N. 1st St., Ste. A, Rockford, (815) 985-2047,

This upscale resale shop, located across the street from Noah’s Ark, offers a wide selection of affordable vintage items. Owner Sonya Dowdakin fulfilled her dream by opening the store in the fall of 2011.
“I think every girl has an addiction to vintage shops,” she says. “I’ve always loved them, so it was a good transition from buying items to selling them. Everything is one-of-a-kind and extra special, so it’s fun to find these treasures.”
Dowdakin sells both her own items and those on consignment from as many as 70 vendors. She’s very picky about what she brings in, and her eclectic style shows through the items on display. Styles range from crystal chandeliers and antique tables to retro 1950s items and mid-century modern dressers.
Dowdakin finds items at auctions and other sources and refurbishes and repurposes them before offering them to customers. Many antique beds have been repurposed to garden benches. “I love to see someone fall in love with and buy something that I’ve repurposed,” she says.
The inventory changes constantly. “During each visit, customers will see something new,” says Dowdakin. “It’s a surprise every time.”
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 11-6; Fri. to 7 p.m.; Sat. 10-5; Sun. 1-4 p.m.

Raven’s Wish Art Gallery
101 W. Milwaukee St., Janesville, Wis., (608) 757-2622,

Alicia Reid opened her shop in 2007, offering a wide variety of artwork and products, from pottery, sculpture, paintings and metal pieces to textiles, home décor, framing and furniture. The unique aspect of this gallery compared to others, though, is that each piece of artwork is made by a local artist.
“I want customers to know and appreciate local artists,” Reid says.
The many paintings sold at the gallery reflect different artistic methods, including watercolor, acrylic and mixed media. Some paintings are abstract, some focus on landscapes, while others are florals or still lifes.
The gallery offers many classes, such as a drop-in painting class held on Tuesday mornings. Since it’s as an open studio time, individual students work on their paintings at their own pace. Customers can register for classes by paying through the shop’s website or calling the store to pay over the phone.
Helping artists to achieve their goals is one of Reid’s favorite aspects of her job, and she hopes customers understand the beauty displayed inside the shop. “It’s like a mini-art fair,” she says. “Raven’s Wish Art Gallery is a little bit of an art oasis in the middle of downtown.”
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10-6; Sat. to 3 p.m.

408 E. Grand Ave., Beloit, Wis., (608) 365-5426,

After years of hoping to own her own shop, Cindy McCracken opened this European-inspired boutique in 2007, when her husband told her she would never know what could happen until she tried. Today, the store named after her mother continues to grow and prosper. In February 2013, she moved to a location closer to the farmers market.
French décor accents an array of intriguing high-quality items. “Even though we have all-new products, the shop has a vintage, romantic feel to it,” McCracken says.
The shop has purses, scarves and jewelry, with boutique clothing brands such as Monoreno, Blu Pepper and RYU. Annabelle’s also sells bath products – including the proprietary Annabelle’s lotion – perfume, candles and home décor. A baby section was recently added, and McCracken stocks seasonal items. A gardening section includes statues, birdhouses, chimes and more.
“I really enjoy shopping for new products, and I enjoy working with people,” McCracken says.
Hours.: Tues.-Fri. 10-5:30; Sat. 8-3.

green tea bake house
30 W. Stephenson St., Freeport, (815) 232-7889,

Owner Kim McGath decided to start her business in 2013, after working at a farmers market. “It allows me to do something that I enjoy, cooking and serving quality food made from scratch,” she says.
Customers choose from a range of tasty items, including sandwiches, soups, cookies, muffins and cupcakes. A top seller is a signature ham and Swiss sandwich served on a homemade pretzel bun.
Flatbreads are also popular, in addition to Italian merengue buttercream cupcakes. “They’re light and airy but with a rich frosting,” says McGrath. As the name suggests, many baked goods feature green tea, such as green tea marble cake and green tea cookies.
The shop serves vegetarian and vegan foods, and recently added vegan burgers. “I’m very adaptive,” McGrath says. “I have something for just about everyone.” Catering is also available.
With friendly and approachable employees, Green Tea Bake House prides itself on providing excellent customer service. “People come in here to treat themselves,” says McGrath. “We try to bring globally inspired flavors to Freeport customers.”
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 9-4; Fri. 9-5; Sat. 10-2.