Finding a gift for a friend, a family member, or a dinner host can sometimes be a pain, especially if they are someone who seems to have it all. Luckily, Chicago’s shopping scene does not disappoint. Beyond the glitzy stores of the Magnificent Mile, Chicago has hundreds of independent boutiques, record stores, and book stores. Here is your guide to some of Chicago’s extraordinary boutiques to fill your gift list with this winter.
Judy Maxwell Home
Judy Maxwell Home is famed Chicago actress Joan Cusack’s, nostalgic general store. Located in Old Town, Judy Maxwell Home sells tchotchkes that delight. From lotions and potions, to beautiful books, and kid toys that make fart noises, Judy Maxwell Home is the spot that sells nothing you would ever actually need but everything you never realized you wanted until walking into the store.
Epic Spices on Chicago Ave sells artisanal spice blends, coffees, herbs, and teas by the pound, and you can find some wonderful flavor mixtures to add to your dishes you can’t find anywhere else in the city. This delightful spot in the West Town neighborhood has been around for years and is the perfect place for home chefs looking for that one ingredient they can’t find anywhere else and dinner guests looking for the perfect hostess gift.
Kokorokoko is the curated vintage shop that sells the type of clothing from the 80s and 90s you dream of wearing and can’t find anywhere else. Owners Ross Kelly and Sasha Hodges are pro collectors that have been in the business for years and know how to find the best clothes, accessories, houseware, and more that existed in the time between the height of hip hop and the advent of the internet.
Not far from Kokorokoko, in Wicker Park, sits Myopic Books, one of the city’s best vintage book stores. With more than 60,000 books ranging from rare to common, art to novel, Myopic is a maze-like, multi-level heaven for those who love books. Fitted with couches and nooks, anyone can spend hours flipping through the store’s offerings or exploring the posters and quotes taped on the walls.
Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities
For something slightly morbid, try Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities. Located in Andersonville, Woolly Mammoth is a curiosity shop that sells “odd, amusing, and eclectic items” such as anatomy items, teeth, taxidermied animals, skulls, skeletons, maps, tools, natural history paraphernalia. In other words, while this shop is absolutely charming, it’s not for the faint of heart.
With one location in the Palmer House hotel, downtown, and another, larger location in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, Merz Apothecary sells homeopathic remedies, perfumes, lotions, makeup, and more from all around the world. Opened in 1875, the apothecary is a Chicago landmark (tour buses traversing the midwest make regular stops here), and is staffed with experts in makeup, scents, and homeopathic healing. This is the spot to get home care items you can’t find anywhere else, a unique signature scent, or a lovely lotion as a gift.