Nooks & Crannies, Winter 2021 Edition

Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.

Tin Dog Records

312 State St., Beloit, (608) 312-4076,

This small storefront in downtown Beloit is a serious hub for those who enjoy listening to and playing music.

The store’s true specialties are new and used vinyl records, CDs, cassettes, accessories and equipment.

“We’re always keeping an eye out for music that our customers are looking for,” says owner Jason Staack.

The cozy space embraces the feel of an old-school music studio. Old and new vinyl records are stationed on the walls. Record players are sprawled throughout the store, old photos of musicians are on display and loud music plays overhead.

Staack is the third owner of Tin Dog Records; he took over in August 2017. Since then, he’s increased the inventory of pre-owned albums.

Since Tin Dog is a smaller store, customers can usually find assistance quickly – and they can easily strike up some casual music conversation while they’re at it.

“Our vibe is a lot warmer and less intimidating, and we know our customers well enough to know that sometimes, they just want to hang out and chat,” Staack says.

Hours: Thurs.-Fri. noon-5 p.m.

Infinite Soul Vibrations

333 E. State St., Rockford, (815) 980-8319,

Tamika Brown embarked on a healing journey after she suffered a stroke and doctors discovered a brain tumor. Along the way, she encountered acupuncture and the healing properties of copper. That inspired her to start crafting her own healing body art, which she now sells at her store in downtown Rockford.

Brown sells healing crystals, handmade copper healing jewelry, essential oils and more. Her underlying mission is to positively impact one’s personal energy.

The most personal part of this business is the jewelry, which Brown says can have healing properties. Each piece is designed to impact the wearer’s intentions because certain stones can affect one’s personal energy, says Brown.

Since launching the store two years ago, Brown has seen a serious uptick in business.

“There were a lot of people interested in the beginning, but in the past six months, people are becoming more conscious of their energy,” says Brown. “They’re more conscious of manifesting things and having a positive attitude. They’re looking for other ways to fix their energy.”

Previously, Brown taught meditation classes every Sunday; she’s looking to re-launch those classes soon.

Hours: Tues.-Fri. noon-6 p.m., Sat. to 5 p.m.

Hazel’s Cafe

307 W. Washington St., Oregon, Ill., (815) 732-7017,

From the age of 18, Candace Rivera wanted to own a coffee shop. She landed her first gig straight out of high school and bounced around at many an Ogle County shop. Four years ago, she finally achieved her dream at the age of 28.

“I’ve always been interested in the entrepreneurial side of business, but I also wanted to do my own thing and have my own flair,” says Rivera.

She was managing Conover Coffee and Chocolates in Oregon, Ill., when the owner jokingly said, “If we ever do decide to sell, we’ll let you know.”

Within a year, they handed over the keys. Candace relocated to downtown Oregon and renamed the shop after her now 8-year-old daughter, the “superstar behind the cafe.”

The mother and daughter serve up specialty coffee drinks including lattes and cappuccinos. The menu also includes teas, smoothies and numerous breakfast items. Everything is made fresh by hand and is never pre-made. Rivera’s products have little to no preservative in them.

“We focus on trying to set our stuff apart and not be like everyone else,” says Rivera. “We partner with local entrepreneurs. We encourage entrepreneurs to get out there and get their businesses known. When someone comes here, we want them to see what Oregon has to offer besides just having a local coffee shop.”

Hours: Tues. & Wed. 7 a.m.-4 p.m., Thurs.-Fri. 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.