A trip to Chicago would not be complete without carving out some time to shop. In fact, some tourists visit for the sole purpose of navigating through the vast array of storefronts, malls and shopping districts the city has to offer. In honor of our “Concierge Favorites” issue, Chicago’s true insiders dish on the best places to shop til’ you drop while making the most of your time and money.
A little piece of Paris in the heart of River North, P.O.S.H. carries “cool finds you would have to travel the world to find.” Think vintage hotel silver, restaurant china and fleamarket treasures from abroad. And speaking of all things old school, Reckless Records “is like visiting John Cusack’s store in ‘High Fidelity,’ ” boasting low-priced used vinyl, including the occasional rare find. Those in search of expanding their palates with Epicurean delights from around the globe will appreciate Fox & Obel, considered a “foodie heaven.”
Sweet (Take Home) Chicago
She may be saying “good-bye” to Chicago, but the Oprah Store will continue to pay homage to one of the world’s most iconic figures in the form of her favorite things, t-shirts, mugs and more. “Who doesn’t love Oprah?” If you love Chicago’s restaurant scene, then take home the flavors with signature Chicago neighborhood (think Greek Town, China Town) spice blends from the Spice House. And a culinary adventure would not be complete without a finger-licking bag of caramel and cheese Garrett’s Popcorn, “undeniably a true Chicago snack.”
There are several concierge favorites wrapped into one at the Shops at Northbridge, including the one stop shop beauty destination Sephora, as well as the iconic Nordstrom department store, known for their impressive shoe department. The 900 Shops elevates the mall experience with high-end retailers such as Gucci, Michael Kors and Bernardaud, while Water Tower Place continues to be a Chicago landmark offering more affordable options such as Macy’s, Forever 21 and Express.
On a Dime
It may be called Filene’s Basement, but this bargain basement carries highly discounted name brand designer items in the area of clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories, and even home goods. You almost can’t believe a shopping experience at Nordstrom Rack, as the men’s, women’s and teen’s designer clothing, shoe and accessory items look anything but discounted, and never picked over. AKIRA is a Chicago original and “Chicago pride is always a factor and this place was born and bred in our town.” The looks for men and women stay on trend but low in cost, thanks to tastefully produced imitations.
Streets of Substance
Many Chicago streets are associated with having their own shopping identity, and our concierge make it hard to pick which one is our favorite.
State Street, “that great street,” is a historic boulevard that morphed from a high-end shopping district back in the day, to an affordable strip of shops such as Nordstrom Rack, ULTA and the iconic Macy’s on State Street . Another iconic Chicago street is The Magnificent Mile, known for offering “a plethora of eye candy and the occasional bargain,” from retailers like H&M and Zara . But if money is not an option, Oak Street is “like going to Rodeo Drive without the travel hassels.” Need proof? You’ll find stores like Barneys New York, Hermes and Prada for your choosing – or looking.
For more suggestions, below is the full list of Concierges' Favourite Shops (2011 edition):