Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.
150 Broad St., Lake Geneva, (262) 248-6756, genevagiftsandfudge.com
This small downtown souvenir shop is located inside the former Hill’s Cafe and Greyhound bus station and started as a simple gift shop for tourists.
“I started working at the shop when I was 13, so this will be my 50th year working at Geneva Gifts,” says Melissa Reuss, who purchased it from her parents. Today, shelves are stocked with a variety of clothing, toys, collectibles, sports merchandise, candy and, of course, gifts and souvenirs. Of its many Native American-related items, the Minnetonka Moccasins have been a bestseller for more than 40 years.
Geneva Gifts introduced its now-famous homemade fudge in 1982 and its owners have spent decades perfecting the recipe.
“We’re very proud of our fudge, and people often say we have the best in town,” says Reuss.
Serving 28 flavors in the winter and as many as 40 in the summer, Geneva Gifts is satisfying many sweet tooths with a yearlong half-price special on a pound of fudge. Favorites include the classic milk chocolate, salted caramel, and goop – a chocolate fudge with peanut butter, caramel and chocolate chips.
Geneva Gifts also offers a full line of Jelly Belly, including BeanBoozled flavors.
Hours: Daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Just Goods Fair Trade
201 Seventh St., Rockford, (815) 965-8903, justgood.info
In 2006, members of Rockford Urban Ministries bonded together to open Just Goods, a unique nonprofit business promoting justice and cultural awareness. Over the past decade, Just Goods has also become a successful venue for local musicians and artists.
Manager Jacquie Meli started as a volunteer with a passion for the Fair Trade movement. “I wouldn’t be happy working in any ordinary retail store, operating only for a profit,” she says.
The colorful blend of products here are imported from almost every continent. There’s handmade jewelry, clothing, housewares, coffees and chocolates. Workers produce these vibrant, quality products for fair pay in good working conditions. As Just Goods creates opportunities for marginalized people in distant countries, the store’s uplifting mission has also delivered opportunities to its once-struggling corner of the Midtown District. The building, previously occupied by a liquor store, now promotes ecological and social responsibility, stirring hope abroad and at home.
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
217 S. Main St., Galena, Ill., (815) 777-6780
If some fun and summery bling is on your radar, this cute shop in a historic Main Street building will tickle you – well, pink. There are oodles of cute dresses, tunics, shorts and rompers from boutique brands like Angie and Papillon, for ages from young teen to middle age.
“Pockets are back, so we have lots of adorable rompers with pockets where you can stash your cell phone,” says Kendall Krumrei, store manager. The walls sparkle with fun & fancy costume jewelry and there’s a handbag in every color of the rainbow. Ballet slippers are big this year and Pink has plenty of them, along with other fun summer shoes and sandals.
“You really can’t beat small-town specialty boutique clothing because no one else back home will be wearing the same thing,” says Krumrei. “You can’t buy these items just anywhere.”
Very Tres Chic & Paper Moon
405 Second St., New Glarus, Wis., (608) 527-3100, verytreschic.com
Looking for a blusher veil? A tiara? A Gatsby-inspired evening gown?
If you long for the days when glamour mattered, this lavish shop offers a true experience, with its impressive collection of new and vintage gowns, furs, wraps, jewelry, veils, feathers and fringe. Its type of signature customer service and boutique styling is a rare bird these days. If you have a vision for a certain “look” you want to achieve at your wedding, special event or even a destination vacation, owner Paula Stanton can help you turn it into reality.
“I understand themed styles from Gatsby, Bohemian, Fairy, Steampunk, Renaissance, Cottage and Woodland,” says Stanton. “And I can put the entire look together for you and your guests.”
Vintage gowns reflect a time period spanning the 1890s to 1990s. The Alternative Wedding Gown section includes vintage-inspired, retro, colored, flowered and many ethnic-style gowns.
Adding to the ambiance of this shop is its Paper Moon Teahouse. Choose your hat, gloves, tea cups & tea pot.
Hours: Mon.-Wed. by appointment or chance; Thu.-Fri. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun. noon-4 p.m.