There’s only so much sightseeing a girl can do, you know? When my sweet hubby noticed that I wasn’t a huge fan of trudging up and down Michigan Avenue, he asked what would be super fun for me. I said let’s see what craft stores are around. (I know, he is really a keeper!) Chicago has a Blick Studio!!! I was so excited I could hardly breathe. I’ve ordered a few supplies online from them and couldn’t wait to see their store in person. This was one of the highlights of my trip for sure.
Brushes and pastel sets and markers and papers and watercolors and row upon row of canvases in all sizes. If I didn’t have to bring it all home in a suitcase I would have bought tons. Just being around these creative tools made me giddy. I got to ask the staff there tons of questions too.
I was in awe of their shelves of Golden products:
One morning I took the train to Wicker Park to have lunch with an old friend, but before we met, I wandered into a few shops in the area. The first of my favorites was Myopic Books.
It’s hard to give you a sense of how jam-packed this used book store is. Head to toe, around the corner and under and over… books absolutely everywhere. One reason I loved it is that it reminds me of Shakespears & Co in Paris. It’s got character, local flavor, and that sense of making do.
I’ve saved the best for last. Also in Wicker Park, The Boring Store is a FRONT! All I knew was that a website highly recommended the shop, so I entered and was charmed by all the cute secret agent spy gear they had displayed rather humorously.
The lovely woman working there explained that all the proceeds from the store support what was hidden behind a one-way mirror: 826CHI, a non-profit writing and tutoring lab that brings free programming to local students. IT IS AWESOME!
826CHI is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills and to helping teachers to inspire their students to write. They offer fee drop-in tutoring, field trips, and in-school programs, in addition to publishing and creative workshops.
Even better, this is one of EIGHT centers, part of 826National, established by Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari. They’ve served over 29,000 students. Just as this store is a spy front, their other stores are creative too: a time travel shoppe, a robot supply repair store, a superhero supply company. I would love it if you’d click that link and check it out. They do amazing work.
The kids write and publish books that are for sale in the store too.
They sell cute writing supplies too. Little matchbook-like note pads that I had to cover in washi tape, of course. Blank books, pens and pencils, even a mini-post office set with little stamps and letters.
OK, there you have it… your tour of some fun Chicago shops! In next week’s Photo Friday I have some fun artsy finds to share with you. Here’s a tiny preview:
Have a great weekend, friends.