NWQ's Holiday Shopping Guide

Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be a chore. Make it an adventure by exploring six trendy local boutiques and dozens of suggestions for wonderful gifts found at locally owned stores throughout our area.


Six Boutiques That Have Great Gifts

Holiday shopping can actually be fun, if you’re at stores with some personality. Fortunately, our region is full of cute, classy boutiques that are enjoyable to visit.
Here are six of our favorite local shops – stocked with stunning pieces of jewelry, mid-century modern furniture and dressy items of home decor.

Molly’s Attic

109 Buchanan St., Belvidere • Hours: Wed.-Sat. noon-5 p.m.
It can be easy to mistake Molly’s Attic for a well-decorated home. The store resembles an attic of vintage treasures. The owner, Lor Vaughan, is constantly rearranging furniture, flowers, pillows and paintings as items come and go.
“Ladies often comment on how well we display our merchandise,” Vaughan says. “We try to demonstrate how to use the pieces.”
Vaughan’s mission has always been to sell high-quality used furniture at reasonable prices. As a licensed interior designer with more than 30 years of experience, she brings a keen eye to decor. Every plant, jewelry box, vase and unique decorative item is placed with a purpose.
If a customer brings in pictures of their home, Vaughan can personally aid in design decisions.
“We have an eclectic mix of old and new items, so you’re bound to find something that fits your style,” Vaughan says.
Molly’s Attic has relocated many times around northern Illinois, from Poplar Grove to Rockton to Roscoe. The store has been cozy in its Belvidere niche for the past year.
Vaughan often receives compliments from guests about the store’s soothing atmosphere. Sounds of pleasant piano music greet visitors as they walk into the store.
“We try to create a pleasant environment for our shoppers,” Vaughan says.
For a holiday gift, Vaughan recommends browsing through the artwork and small pieces on display, or giving a gift certificate to the savvy shopper and decorator.

The Bee’s Knees General Store

118 N. First St., Rockford • Hours: Mon.-Th. & Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri. to 9 p.m., Sun. 1-5 p.m.
Willie Crump and Alan Brown have been antique collectors for years. Brown jokes it was only a matter of time before they opened a store – they had to find some way to get rid of stuff.
“Our job is to avoid the trash can,” Brown says. “We put things back together. We also literally find things for people – if a customer wants a wooden coat rack, we’ll find you a wooden coat rack.”
Crump and Brown opened The Bee’s Knees General Store in May 2015 to showcase and sell the “oddball stuff” they come across. The store is the crown jewel of unique gifts. There’s everything from church pews and pulpit chairs to rare Dutch cookie molds.
There’s also women’s vintage clothing, art, furniture and more than 40 restored bikes.
“We get stuff from everywhere,” Brown says. “Some of the best picking is at Northern Illinois University after the college kids leave. We often take trips down to Memphis – there’s great picking there.”
Also from Memphis is the store’s resident rescue dog, Alfie. The “official store greeter” brings joy to those who enter the shop.
The Bee’s Knees hosts fundraisers every other month for local nonprofits and charities, such as Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary, Rockford University, Shelter Care Ministries and Children’s Safe Harbor.
“We really believe in enhancing downtown Rockford,” Brown says. “We’re retired, but we work seven days a week. It’s all to make downtown a better place and we really enjoy what we’re doing.”

Trove Vintage

2410 Jackson St., Rockford • Hours: Th.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sisters Mary and Elizabeth Puckett grew up surrounded by antiques. Their grandmother was an avid collector, and their mother still is to this day.
“We have fond memories of antiquing trips to Galena and rummaging through flea markets and garage sales,” says Mary. “It was only natural that our mom and grandma’s love of the old passed down to us.”
The sisters dreamed of someday owning a store together. About a year and a half ago, they drove by a cute but boarded-up building on Jackson Street that was a candy store in their youth. The sisters fondly remember riding their bikes to the store to purchase candy.
In a word, the building was ‘perfect.’ Within months, Trove Vintage was open.
“We honor the history by selling some of our favorite throwback candies,” Mary says. “If you’re looking for wax lips and a vintage table, you’ve come to the right place.”
Elizabeth is the right-brain creative of the sisters. She has a flair for design and is able to provide advice for home decor, fashion and gardening. Mary fills the pragmatic left-brain role. Her business acumen helps her to accomplish behind-the-scenes tasks.
Together, the sisters make a dynamic team. They strive to sell a mix of items that are primitive, mid-century modern and ‘70s funkadelic.
Trove has a wide collection of holiday items, from flannel wool scarves to a new line of jewelry from Istanbul.
“That’s one of Mary’s favorite cities,” Elizabeth says. “We have our popular Kantha quilts hand-stitched by women in small villages in India, helping to keep them employed. We also offer nice gift pairings such as our Iowa-based Milkhouse candle line and handmade soaps from Champaign, Ill. Vintage-inspired gift wrapping is free of charge.”

Urban Farmgirl

2202 Rural St., Rockford • Hours: Two weekends a month
Mary Gulbrantson is a true urban farm girl. Growing up, she spent many summers attending auctions with her Dad, after which they’d refinish and build furniture together.
“At an early age, I learned to create, work hard and witness the fruits of that labor,” Gulbrantson says. “All of that was just the beginning of what has come to be a diverse business.”
What started as a girl selling at a flea market has evolved into a successful business owner operating a shop that attracts visitors from across the United States. Urban Farmgirl is purposely open just two weekends a month. The four-year-old shop also hosts the bi-annual Main Street Market, with more than 125 vendors.
“Our goal is to have a shop that’s fresh and exciting to visit each and every time we open the doors,” Gulbrantson says. “Details are important when you have a small shop.”
Urban Farmgirl has a mix of vintage goods, handmade furniture, artisan jewelry and home decor. Gulbrantson tries to source from local artisans as much as possible. The shop carries jewelry created by artist Mona Lindvall of m.Lindvall Inspired Design, hand-painted signs by Jen Ratkovic of 815 Wood Designs and industrial-style lighting created by John Sonnefeldt of Lumenology.
Some of the most popular items in the shop are specific to the Urban Farmgirl brand – T-shirts, hats, hoodies and a special candle line called “The Forest City Collection.”
“It’s all worthwhile when we hear someone say that it makes them happy to visit our store,” Gulbrantson says. “You can’t ask for more.”

Salvaged by Sonya

330 E. State St., Rockford • Hours: Wed. & Th. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri. to 8 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 1-4 p.m.
Sonya Dowdakin wanted a small, simple shop in downtown Rockford. She figured it’d be fun to sell repurposed furniture in a store that was only open on weekends.
Fast forward five years and Dowdakin’s store, Salvaged by Sonya, has become much greater than she ever anticipated.
“I work every day, but it’s the most fun job I’ve ever had,” Dowdakin says. “I’m always talking on the phone with customers, buying fun vintage things for my shop, visiting estates, keeping up with paperwork, but I love it. Who doesn’t want to go into cool houses and see what they have?”
Dowdakin puts her heart into finding high quality vintage furniture, vintage costume jewelry, antique chandeliers and uniquely repurposed items for her store. The shop is geared to the graduating college student, the person getting their first apartment and anyone looking for that one-of-a-kind piece for that certain spot in their home.
It’s all part of her larger mission to help make Rockford a greater city.
“Being part of the positive change of downtown is huge,” Dowdakin says. “It’s been neat to see things improve.
Downtown has the perfect look, feel and excitement of the older Rockford. I love being a part of it.”
Hosting estate sales is an important aspect of Dowdakin’s business. She fulfills a need for families, when loved ones move into an assisted living facility or pass away.
“We work hand in hand with families, realtors and assisted living facilities year ‘round,” Dowdakin says. “We also help families who are just wanting to downsize.”
Curio cabinets and dressers and vintage jewelry are some of the top gift items, along with gift certificates.

ZaZu Gift Co.

11013 Main St., Roscoe, Ill. 6551 E. Riverside Blvd., Rockford • Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. to 6 p.m., Sun. noon-4 p.m.
Since 2002, ZaZu Gift Co. has been known for its unique merchandise selection and artistic displays. Current owners April Kruse and David Hernandez purchased the shop in October 2012, with the vision of growing it into a business that keeps community and customer relationships first.
In April 2016, Kruse and Hernandez opened a second location in Rockford to better serve their customer base and provide an out-of-mall experience for Rockford shoppers.
“We’re continuously grateful to the people who support both of our locations,” Kruse says. “We have a strong commitment to giving back to local organizations and groups that enhance our quality of life.”
For example, ZaZu has held month-long appreciation events for teachers and members of the military, providing discounts on entire purchases. The shop also hosts Benefit Days, where 10 percent of sales are donated to a local nonprofit organization.
“We’re also proud to have students from Hononegah High School’s Vocational Internship program regularly work at our Roscoe location,” Hernandez says. “It’s important to us to support the community that supports us.”
ZaZu offers an eclectic mix of products, including one-of-a-kind home decor, women’s apparel and accessories, seasonal decor and much more. For the upcoming holiday season, some of the most popular lines include WoodWick, Blue Q, Willow Tree, Ginger Snaps, Hobo and Mystree.
“We recently added the Ginger Snap Petite collection, which is the latest trend in interchangeable jewelry fashion,” Kruse says.
In addition to jewelry, the store carries a line of comical women and men’s socks by Blue Q. For children, ZaZu has an expansive baby and kid section featuring Klutz activity books and a variety of Melissa & Doug puzzles and toys.

Gifts That You Can’t Wrap

Gustafson’s Furniture & Mattress
808 W. Riverside Blvd. & 6651 E. State St., Rockford. Gustafsonfurniture.com
Why not ask for that piece of furniture you’ve been ogling all year, such as this Bassett Maverick sofa. Also find hundreds of accessories in the two giant showrooms.
Primetime Audio/Video
6917 E. State St., Rockford (815) 399-2500 primetimeav.com
Who wouldn’t love a home electronics gift, like this Bose SoundTouch Wave IV sound system? It works with your home Wi-Fi network and Bluetooth devices to play almost anything.
Benson Stone Company
1100 11th St., Rockford (815) 227-2000 Bensonstone.com
From grills, light fixtures and fireplace décor to furniture & accessories, you’ll find something special. Shown here: Rustic wood-fired pizza oven.
Peak Fitness & Peak Sports Club
4304 E. State St., Rockford and 4401 Peak Drive, Loves Park (815) 398-7300
Give the gift of health by paying for a loved one’s membership, which includes towel service, group fitness classes, childcare facilities and a club orientation and fitness consultation.
Ender’s Flowers
1631 N. Alpine Road, Rockford (815) 229-1290 Endersflowers.com
For a welcome fresh touch on a wintry day, send an elegant, garden-style arrangement, or visit the store to find gifts, botanically accurate wreaths and décor pieces.
Rite-Way Furniture & Appliance
20 E. Stephenson St., Freeport (815) 235-4911 rite-way.info
Has dad’s recliner seen better days? Surprise him with a comfy new one. Hundreds are on display, from brands like Ashley, Best Craft, Best Home Furnishings and Flexsteel.
Advanced Chimney Systems
3486 Lonergan Drive, Rockford Advancedchimney.net (815) 874-7377
Fireplace accessories, free-standing stoves, smokers and grills will warm anyone’s heart. Pictured: An easy-to-use
Big Green Egg grill.
O’Fallon’s Fine Flowers
1605 N. Bell School Road ofallonsflowers.com (815) 395-8320
Forget the shopping and wrapping. Deliver a beautiful holiday centerpiece or decoration to the doors of those you love.
Museum Gift Shops
Throughout Our Region
Unique finds abound at local museum gift shops such as Midway Village, Discovery Center, Burpee and Rockford Art Museum in Rockford; Freeport Art Museum; and Angel Museum in Beloit.
London Avenue Designs
214 E. State St., Rockford (815) 914-8049, londonave.com
This downtown floral boutique specializes in unique floral arrangements and botanic pieces that incorporate the unexpected.
Rockford Park District
401 S. Main St., Rockford Rockfordparkdistrict.org
Purchase e-vouchers to redeem for golf & swim passes, horseriding & skate lessons, Nicholas Conservatory entrance and so much more. Give the gift of experience. Online, click the MYRPD tab to shop.
Rockford Symphony Orchestra
711 N. Main St., Rockford rockfordsymphony.com
Tickets for a variety of events within the 2016/2017 season can be purchased online. Give the gift of music and share a priceless experience.

Gifts of Food & Drink

Olive Oil Experience & Spice Galleria
6332 E. Riverside Blvd. & 328 E. State St., Rockford. theoliveoilexperience.com
Endless gift ideas for lovers of food and flavor, such as this popular sampler with Tuscan herb, garlic, butter, traditional, fig and cran-pear balsamic vinegars.
Artale Wine Co.
6876 Spring Creek Road, Rockford (815) 877-9463 artaleandco.com
Find a huge selection of wine, beer, fine spirits, barware, accessories and even Cacaocuvee artisan chocolates. Friendly expertise for every customer at no extra charge.
9 East Coffee
9 E. Stephenson St., Freeport 9eastcoffee.com (815) 233-7300
Delicous whole bean coffee, treats and Freeport-specific items like coasters.
Main Street Meat Co.
9515 N. Second St., Roscoe, Ill. mainstreetmeat.com (815) 623-6328
Enormous selection of food items and accessories, from boxes of fine beef, pork, seafood and poultry to everything you need for grilling, plus all the condiments and sides.
Higher Grounds
1709 S. West Ave., Freeport (815) 297-9441 highergrounds-coffee.com
Gifts of high-quality teas and whole-bean specialty coffees are always appreciated. Stop by during your shopping and enjoy a pastry or sandwich. Pictured: Higher Grounds Blend.
640 Meats
6410 E. Riverdside Blvd., Loves Park (815) 633-9443 640meats.com
Delicious meats, seafood and produce. Who wouldn’t love to receive a box of excellent meats to tuck into the freezer to enjoy for months to come?
Swiss Colony Food, Gifts & Bakery
652 8th St., Monroe, Wis.(800) 913-0743, (608) 328-8572 swisscolony.com
Founded in 1926, Swiss Colony is known for its exceptional cheeses, sausages, pastries and other treats. It ships gifts directly to the homes you list.
Rocky Waters Vineyard & Winery
2003 W. Hanover Road, Hanover, Ill. (815) 591-9706 Rockywaters.net
This boutique winery produces delicious wines from cold-weather grape varietals including Marechal, Foch, Leon Millot, St. Croix and white varietals of LaCrosse and St.
Alp & Dell Cheese
657 2nd St., Monroe, Wis. (608) 328-3355 alpanddellcheese.com
More than 125 specialty cheeses, plus wine and beer. Pictured here: Roth Grand Cru Surchoix Alpine-style cheese, named the 2016 World Champion Cheese.
Meg’s Daily Grind
1141 N. Alpine, 3885 N. Perryville, 3301 N. Mulford megs-daily-grind.com
Stop in to pick up high quality and delicious fair trade, organic and special blend coffees, sold by the bag.
Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern
1023 16th Ave., Monroe, Wis.Baumgartnercheese.com (608) 325-6157
Gift boxes offer a taste of Wisconsin; fill as you like with favorites such as 5-Year Cheddar, Mild Brick and Baby Swiss, plus 2nd Best Chili, sausages and mustards.
Famous Fossil Winery
395 N. Cedarville Road, Freeport (815) 563-4665 famousfossilwinery.com
Twelve varieties are made on site, using grapes grown onsite plus those from nearby vineyards. Delicious wines, all natural, all local, and many of them award-winning.

Gifts We All Love

Busch Jewelers
1960 Pawlisch Dr., Rockford (815) 332-2222 Buschjewelry.com
Listen up, men. Jewelry is always appreciated. Pictured: Ladies 18 kt white gold diamond engagement ring exclusively designed by Busch Jewelers.
Emily Bear Trio
“Into the Blue” CD w/Mark McLean & Peter Slavov MLE.com
Pre-order starting Nov. 25 from MLE.com, Amazon or iTunes. Features five original compositions and “My Favorite Things.” Your CD will arrive in time for Christmas.
Rocktown Adventures
313 N. Madison St., Rockford (815) 636-9066 rocktownadventures.com
Find everything you need for outdoor adventures in one place: sales, rentals, lessons, guided trips and apparel. Pictured: Oboz Women’s Madison insulated zip boots.
10684 Main St., Roscoe kpaigeshop.com (815) 270-1217
This store brims with truly one-of-a-kind finds, including jewelry, accessories and fashion apparel. Pictured: Pecos Bill cowgirl boots.
214 E. State St., Rockford (815) 639.9515 archapothecary.com
Luxury cosmetic/skincare products for women and men. Shown: Truefitt & Hill badger hair shaving brush; handle for Gillette Mach3 blades; West Indian Limes shaving cream.
Viking Ski & Patio
131 W. Northwest Hwy., Barrington (847) 381-1188 vikingskishop.com
This full-service ski and snowboard shop is full of finds.
Complete Sheep Shoppe
10828 Caledonia Road Belvidere, Ill. (815) 895-9678 completesheepshoppe.com
Beautiful things made from lamb and sheep wool, plus lines from Ugg, Minnetonka, Acorn and Qwaruba.
Fur Company
1603 N. Alpine Road, Ste. 117 Rockford (815) 397-7778 rocktownadventures.com
The Fur Company sells fine fur products and fur maintenance services, providing a variety of animal fur coats.
Wooden Trooper
1015 16th Ave., Monroe, Wis.On the Square (608) 207-0091
Owner James Reese works closely with customers to design and build customized wood products for adults and children, like this lovely handcrafted horse.
Luecke Jewelers
10 E. Main St., Freeport; 1444 N. State St., Belvidere; & 1029 16th Ave., Monroe, Wis.
Beautiful pieces of fine jewelry, wedding bands and engagement rings, watches, sterling silver and estate jewelry. Brands include AGS, Colore, Landstrom’s, Kaufman & AGS.
2410 Jackson St., Rockford (815) 977-5943 trove-vintage.com
Sisters Mary and Elizabeth Puckett offer a treasure trove of vintage finds, artisan goods and objects from around the world. There’s mid-century modern, primitive and ‘70s funkadelic.
Cherry Valley Feed
1595 S. Bell School Road, Cherry Valley, Ill.cherryvalleyfeedandsupplies.com.
There’s plenty for your animal friends to love at this store, but humans will enjoy the large selection of apparel, purses, hats and boots, including Ariat and Justin brands.
Akerman Shoes
1613 N. Alpine Road, Rockford (815) 397-9706 akermanshoes.com
Find top-quality footware and accessories in brands like Algeria, Birkenstock, Clarks, Dansko and New Balance. Shown here: Sturdy boots from Rockport.
Nicholson Hardware  
1131 Second Ave., Rockford, (815) 963-4821 nicholsonhardware.com
The M18 FUEL Drill/Driver is the most powerful 18-volt cordless drill on the market. Find this and other high-quality tools that get the job done, at Nicholson Hardware.
Oregon Soap Shoppe
91C S. Daysville, Oregon, Ill. (866) 411-6614 Oregonsoapshoppe.com
Hand-made, three-in-one specialty soaps that can be used for showering, shaving and shampooing. There are soaps for special skin conditions and jobs, too.
Barbara Buck
1240 S. Walnut St., Freeport (815) 541-8890
Exquisite hand-made Santas, in all kinds of themes, from Fishing or Fireman Santa to Harley Santa. No effort is spared, when it comes to sourcing the best materials.
Wild Birds Unlimited
631 S. Perryville Road,Rockford (815) 484-9281 Rockford.WBU.com
Everything you need for backyard birding feeding. Highest quality bird food, birdhouses with poles and baffles, heated birdbaths, binoculars.
Cork Keg & Spirits
1603 N. Alpine Road, Rockford (815) 986-3854 corkkegspirits.com
Shop hand-selected wines from around the world as well as bourbons and other fine spirits like those shown above.
3Rs Learning Materials Center
1643 N. Alpine Road, Rockford (815) 398-1600 shop.the3Rscatalog.com
Lots of great children’s gifts to inspire creative experiences through play.
Stockholm Inn Gift Shop
808 W. Riverside Blvd. & 6651 E. State St., Rockford. Gustafsonfurniture.com
Baked goods and other traditional Swedish foods, such as lingonberry jam, Swedish pancake mix and imported coffees. Also non-food gifts. Pictured: Swedish Dala Horse, Recipe Book, Hat & Coffee.