Shopping in Chicago
October 19, 2009 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Cool shopping experiences in a cluster, in the Chicago area?

We're taking a bunch of folks to Chicago next summer, and want to go on an afternoon shopping. We want to find a cluster of 6-7 retail stores/shops that are awesome, unique, entertaining, interesting, great customer experiences.

OK, yes, I know, Michigan Avenue is the obvious choice. But perhaps it is so obvious, we'd overlook something else equally awesome. We'll be staying in Itasca, so we'd love to find something around there. Or somewhere in that general vicinity.

It may turn out that Michigan Avenue is just the ticket, but I don't want to overlook something else that might be better. A bunch of great/unique stores, walking distance and/or short drives, truly unique experiences.

Any ideas?
posted by jbickers to Shopping (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Milwaukee Ave in Wicker Park (between Ashland and Damen) has some pretty unique stuff, and if you turn the corner on Damen (between North and, say, Armitage) there are some pretty ritzy little fashion boutiques.
posted by Oktober at 12:52 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

The area of Armitage around the Brown Line stop has a mix of stores, with some chains and some independents. As for Michigan, it's worth going west on Oak Street, assuming your friends have a bit of cash and/or like window shopping.
posted by sachinag at 12:59 PM on October 19, 2009

2nding Oktober. That area is great if you're looking for either ritzy or unritzy.
posted by anthropomorphic at 1:07 PM on October 19, 2009

Michigan Ave. has become more and more generic over the past few years. It's almost completely clothing stores now.

The Northbridge mall at Michigan and Grand has some cool shops. There's a Lego store, a store with puzzles and games, and a Nordstrom among many others. A block further west on Grand is Marbles, which sells brainy toys, puzzles and games.

Unfortunately the Virgin Megastore is gone, replaced by some crummy clothing store.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:10 PM on October 19, 2009

I just directed a friend to the Clark/Belmont, Halsted area for funky shopping (she then had lunch at Chicago Diner, which she loved, but which I don't much care for). It's not all clothes, either.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:14 PM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Division Street between Ashland and Western has a TON of boutique stores. It's also in the same area as the first poster's suggestion (Milwaukee intersects with Division at Ashland). This area is my go-to for clothes and handmade gifts. Some highlights are Renegade Handmade, Paper Doll, Penelope's, Una Mae's Freak Boutique, Myopic Books, Reckless Records, Akira and Belmont Army Navy (only the basement is military stuff, the rest is hip clothing/shoes). If you're staying downtown all you'll need to do is get on the Blue Line and head north. The Ashland/Milwaukee stop will get you closer to Division Street and the Damon stop will get you closer to North. Either way, any of the stores listed are a short walk away. I'd highly recommend this area for mom and pop shops unique to Chicago.
posted by OccamsRazor at 1:41 PM on October 19, 2009

Andersonville (Clark between Foster and Bryn Mawr) has a good mix of shops, especially quirky furniture stores and random Swedish stuff.

Lots of good food, too.
posted by ztdavis at 1:43 PM on October 19, 2009

Michigan Avenue is the obvious choice. But perhaps it is so obvious, we'd overlook something else equally awesome.

Personally, I wouldn't think of anything on Michigan avenue "awesome, unique, entertaining, interesting..." Isn't it all just chain stores now? I try not to spend much tome around there because the crowds of tourists really get in the way. I think the really expensive shops on Oak Street are fun for window shopping although most of them are luxury brands I'm familiar with. There's lots of pockets of boutiques and more interesting independently owned shops around Chicago and I would particularly recommend the area in Wicker Park/Bucktown mentioned above (Milwaukee/North/Damen).

It really depends on what types of things you're interested in, what style etc. Itasca is a suburb and is a totally different experience than Chicago.
posted by Bunglegirl at 2:03 PM on October 19, 2009

2nding Andersonville. There is a recently renovated galleria with lots of unique/custom/handmade/etc things as well.
posted by lholladay at 2:25 PM on October 19, 2009

Lincoln Square off of the Lawrence Brown Line stop. Lots of little restaurants and smaller shops. It's a nice place.
posted by kensington314 at 3:09 PM on October 19, 2009

If by "Chicago", you also include the greater Chicago area, you might find a nice experience in Oak Park, along Lake Street between Harlem and Oak Park Avenues, and also south on Oak Park from Lake to the El.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:03 PM on October 19, 2009

Wicker Park yes, also Armitage at Halsted-- several little designer clothing boutiques, and Belden at Halsted. (Lots of cool stuff ON Halsted in between as well, a walk of may a mile?). Then there's Andersonville on Clark Street from Foster to maybe Catalpa. Actually, start at Catalpa around 3, stroll down Clark Street and have dinner at Ann Sather's, Reza's or Andies, check out some of the bars, boites or coffee houses in the neighborhood, then finish up the night around 10 at Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind.
posted by nax at 4:13 PM on October 19, 2009

Seconding Clark & Belmont area. So many cool shops in that area and it's just got a great atmosphere.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:32 PM on October 19, 2009

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