Check out these original and inventive shops in our area.
Sweet Little Children’s Boutique + Portrait Studio
16 W. Stephenson St., Freeport, (815) 821-2830, sweetlittlesboutique.com
Tamara Roach found her passion early in life.
“After I graduated high school, I started working at Sears Portrait Studio,” she recalls. “I stayed there for six years and loved it. I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Roach went on to open her own photography studio, specializing in newborn portraits, milestones and cake smashes.
Then, in January 2020, she decided to expand her capabilities and offer children’s clothing along with her photography.
With her consistently growing selection of boutique clothing, accessories, books and toys, Roach makes sure there is always something new in her inventory for parents to swoon over.
Her current inventory includes clothing brands Itzy Ritzy and Pete + Lucy. She also carries toy lines like Warmies, Charm It!, and Plus-Plus.
Roach continues to offer portrait services for newborns through early childhood. She also offers monthly mini sessions on the shop’s Facebook page, with themes that include holidays and superheroes.
Roach plans to move her business this summer to Freeport’s Lincoln Mall. A Pearl City, Ill., native, Roach is happy to offer her services in Freeport.
“Businesses here really look out for each other,” she says. “Freeport is a bigger community, but it’s still small enough that everyone knows each other.”
Hours: Tue. 2-7 p.m., Wed. and Fri. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thur. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
J. Robert’s Menswear
17 S. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn, Wis., (262) 723-2610, jrobertsmenswear.com
For more than a century, this family-owned business has specialized in menswear for a variety of occasions and body styles, including big and tall.
Whether you’re looking for a sharp suit, a tasteful collared shirt or some casual sportswear, J. Robert’s Menswear reflects the latest trends.
“There’s a common preconception that small-town shops don’t stay up-to-date on fashion trends, so a lot of people come in and are surprised by the new designer clothing we carry,” says Jim Schoberg, who owns the store with wife Marilyn.
The couple stay on top of men’s fashion trends by traveling to clothing markets a few times a year, in search of the latest looks.
Renovated and expanded over the years, the store’s location has been in the business of selling men’s clothing since the late 1800s. The Schobergs purchased the business in 1983 and were joined by their son, Jacob, in 2013.
Living by a motto that customer service is an attitude, employees work to ensure customers find the exact item they’re looking for, in the exact size they need.
In addition to their extensive knowledge of men’s fashion, employees are also trained tailors, meaning they’re able to provide personalized alterations quickly and on-site.
Tuxedo rentals are available upon request.
Hours: Mon.-Wed. 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Thur.-Fri. to 7 p.m., Saturday to 5 p.m.
Black Hawk Antiques & Fiber Arts
302 Franklin St., Oregon, Ill., (815) 822-4464
Vyki Jackson managed several antique booths before opening Black Hawk Antiques & Fiber Arts.
In this two-room space, Jackson has carefully curated antique furniture, glassware, luggage, decorative items and an assortment of unique collectibles like fishing lures, pocketknives and harmonicas.
“I even have a stuffed racoon,” she laughs.
While most of Jackson’s store is focused around antique goods, she also offers other unique finds including hand-made lotions, soaps and candles. The walls of her shop are festooned with artwork, and there are plans to feature a local photographer’s work in the coming weeks.
Jackson’s store places a particular emphasis on fiber arts like knitting, crochet, weaving, quilting and hand-spun yarn. She has commissioned eight women from across the state to contribute their fiber arts for sale in the store.
Jackson hopes to begin teaching classes in a variety of fiber arts to anyone who is interested.
“If there’s been a fiber art in existence since 1958, I’ve tried it,” she says.
Hours: Fri. noon-4 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Sun. noon-4 p.m.