Nooks & Crannies

Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.


6730 Broadcast Parkway, Loves Park, Ill., (815) 977-4332

When people first visit Shine, a home/garden decor and gift boutique, they’re pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of colorful, neatly displayed products that are meant to inspire.

“Customers tell us all the time how carefree and refreshing it is to be in our store,” says Minda Woith, co-owner with business partner Elizabeth Burkholder.

Shine features colorful and beautifully patterned Polish pottery in a wide assortment of sizes and prices. These pieces are safe to use in the oven, freezer, microwave and dishwasher.

 Other items include jewelry, kitchen accessories, soy candles, greeting cards and unique home and garden decor, in addition to natural crystals and stones, incense, singing bowls, chimes, organic and eco-friendly soaps, bath bombs and salts. Many products are aimed at helping customers replace the mounting frustrations of daily living with a calm state of being.   

The co-owners are focused on buying natural and American-made products as often as possible, and they carry items crafted by local and regional artists.

“We shop all over, and it’s a long, drawn-out process as we look, find, evaluate and consider what to buy, always with our customers in mind. We truly aim to have items for sale that are fun, functional, lovely and interesting, and that ultimately make people’s lives more enjoyable,” says Woith.

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Oregon Soap Shoppe

91C Daysville Road, Oregon, Ill., (866) 411-6614,

The unique, handmade soap found in this specialty shop is a triple threat. It can be used as a body wash, shampoo or shaving cream.

Best of all, it still moisturizes skin and keeps hair soft while leaving a clean, fresh scent.

“I’ll be 63 this year, and I haven’t used any lotions or creams for 30 years,” says owner Lynnel Camling, who makes the soap by hand. “My skin is soft and my hair looks great.”

Camling uses custom recipes to create her soap, combining natural ingredients such as beeswax, finely ground herbs and spices, and essential oils.

The store carries roughly 500 kinds of soap, each tailored for certain situations.

Chemo Comfort, for example, helps to relieve nausea, while Emotional Rescue contains oil from orange blossoms and is designed to uplift spirits.

For the family baby, Camling recommends Lavender Baby Soap, which has zinc oxide and provides extra protection from diaper rash.

Camling says her soap is made in a way that’s effective at killing viruses.

“Soaps made in this fashion have a hydrophilic molecule that penetrates the lipid shell of any virus,” she says. “Your chances of getting a virus are much slimmer when you use this type of soap.”

Camling additionally sells a large selection of lip balms crafted to help dry, cracked lips while leaving a refreshing scent.

“I’m not a doctor or nurse practitioner,” Camling says. “But, I can say this soap can really help you.”

Hours: Tues-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Curbside pickup is also available.

The Cheese Box

801 S. Well St., Lake Geneva, (262) 248-3440,

This quaint staple in Lake Geneva’s shopping district has been serving up delicious gourmet cheese for 80 years, selling high-quality varieties of everything from Swiss cheese to cheese curds and Wisconsin cheddars.  

The store even carries cheeses for niche tastes. The Ghost Pepper Jack, for example, includes bits of super-spicy ghost chili peppers.

 “With this cheese, you get that massive heat and you still get really awesome flavor,” says Cheri Borowiec, co-owner with husband John.

The Cheese Box even has a chocolate cheese, made with a mixture of cheddar and cream cheese, along with cocoa power and walnuts. 

“It tastes like fudge, or brownie batter,” Cheri says. “It’s amazing stuff, and it pairs well with fruit.”

Former restaurant owners, the Borowiecs purchased The Cheese Box in 2013 from Edward Schwinn Jr., formerly a leader the of Schwinn bicycle company. The new owners promised to keep intact the store’s vintage look, which has changed little through the tenures of its previous four owners.

“He didn’t want to sell the business to someone who wasn’t going to keep it the way it was,” Cheri says. “This is how it’s always been. Everything but the people and the cheese has always been here.”

In addition to gourmet cheese, also find homemade breads, sausages, sandwiches and various condiments on site, as well as local wine and beer from New Glarus Brewing Co.

 “The Cheese Box has been around since 1940, and people can always count on it,” Cheri says.

Hours: Mon-Thurs. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Fri.-Sat. to 7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The Cheese Box is currently open for curbside pickup and carryout.