Credit: Provided
Credit: Danielle Deschaine

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LINCOLN SQUARE — It’s the season to shop at local businesses to find that perfect gift for friends and family.

This year’s holiday gift guide includes custom candles in Albany Park, apparel and craft beers from North Center’s latest brewery and taproom and a David Bowie-themed Monopoly board game.

Block Club Chicago rounded up a few neighborhood gift option to help you shop local. 

Lincoln Square

A collector’s tin from Underberg celebrating the after-dinner digestif’s 175th anniversary. Credit: Provided.

Merz Apothecary, 4716 N. Lincoln Ave. Website.

Chicago pharmacist Peter Merz opened a small drugstore on the North Side in 1875. The business moved to its current storefront in Lincoln Square in 1982 and expanded into the storefront next door, where Anthony Qaiyum and his father Abdul Qaiyum have been running the shop for years.

Its holiday gifts include a collector’s tin ($19.50) from Underberg celebrating the after-dinner digestif’s 175th anniversary and seasonal classic sugar plum bar soap ($10).

Merz Apothecary is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 773-989-0900. Instagram.

A toy CTA train car from Timeless Toys. Credit: Provided.

Timeless Toys, 4749 N. Lincoln Ave. Website.

Harry and Martha Burrows opened the store in 1994 at 4749 N. Lincoln Ave. in the heart of Lincoln Square as an oasis for children and families. The shop is focused on toys that develop a child’s imagination.

This year, the shop has an obstacle course in a box ($19.99) full of physical challenges designed to keep kids active, fit and healthy. Other items include a miniature wooden toy train that looks like a CTA Brown Line car ($19.99) an Lego sets ($4.99-$249.99)

Timeless Toys is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. 773-334-4445. Instagram.

Gene’s Sausage Shop in Lincoln Square. Credit: Provided.

Gene’s Sausage Shop and Delicatessen4750 N. Lincoln Ave. Website.

Let Gene’s take the hassle out of the holiday with its gift basket options. You can grab a beef jerky supreme sampler ($30) or a variety of gift cards to gift fans of the shop ($25-$100). They feature a collection of goodies from local farm and family businesses.

Gene’s Sausage Shop and Delicatessen is open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. 773-728-7243.

Laurie’s Planet of Sound in Lincoln Square. Credit: Provided.

Laurie’s Planet of Sound, 4639 N. Lincoln Ave. Website.

For more than 20 years, Laurie’s Planet of Sound has sold vintage vinyl records alongside new music, quirky movies and other oddball items.

“We’ll have a Davie Bowie branded-Monopoly game that we should be the exclusive seller for in the Chicago area,” said owner John Laurie.

In addition to the Bowie-themed Monopoly game ($29.99), the shop also carries a “Labyrinth”-themed version of the Clue board game ($33.99). Laurie said he’s also excited about the “Charlie Brown Christmas” vinyl album ($39.99), which has a bonus record of alternate takes.

The shop will also have a reissues of Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings’ “It’s A Holiday Soul Party” on a candy-cane-colored vinyl pressing ($22.99) that features Hanukkah and Christmas originals as well as soulful renditions of holiday favorites.

Laurie’s Planet of Sound is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays. 773-271-3569. Facebook.

North Center

Enjoy a warm drink with a kushy twist with Canna Bella Lux’s roast and toast ceramic mugs. Credit: Provided.

Canna Bella Lux, Now online only. Website.

Tiffany Woodman opened Canna Bella Lux as a welcoming boutique for people interested in recreational cannabis. Though the storefront closed, the business is still operating online.

This holiday season, Woodman is offering a rose gold rolling tray from Blazy Susan ($24.99), unicorn and rainbow pre-rolled cones ($12) and an assortment of roast and toast ceramic mugs ($24.99).


Hop Butcher turned Half Acre’s former Lincoln Avenue location into its first taproom. Credit: Hop Butcher

Hop Butcher For The World, 4257 N. Lincoln Ave. Website

Founded in Chicago in 2014, Hop Butcher’s beers include hop forward IPAs, double IPAs and triple IPAs, as well as flavorful lagers and bold stouts. 

In November, owners Jeremiah Zimmer and Jude La Rose opened their first taproom in the former Half Acre Brewing in North Center. It has a retail shop. 

In addition to selling cans of the brewery’s beer, the shop features apparel, including its branded “dad hat” ($19.99), signed prints ($19.99) and a “Beef Dipped” cow yard sign ($19.99).

Taproom hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays. 773-697-7883. Instagram.

Albany Park and North Park

Scent Queens Candle Co. & Apothecary Shoppe owners Andrew Cookson (left) and Curtis Bumgarner at their business on Aug. 23, 2022. Credit: Alex V. Hernandez/Block Club Chicago

Scent Queens Candle Co. & Apothecary Shoppe, 3728 W. Montrose Ave. Website.

Married couple Curtis Bumgarner and Andrew Cookson offer customers a selection of their hand-poured candle creations as well as a chance to make their own custom-scented candles. 

Some of the unique candles on offer include the Dry Gin + Juniper ($10) and Cranberry Evergreen ($18).

All of Scent Queen’s candles are made from all-natural soy or coconut waxes and don’t use paraffins. Bumgarner designs the fragrances while Cookson mixes the oils and wax.

Some of Scent Queen’s signature candles pay homage to specific places and people, such as The Queen ($15), a nod to Cookson’s home country of England. 

Scent Queens Candle Co. & Apothecary Shoppe is open noon-8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. Instagram.

The interior of A. Favorite Design in Albany Park. Credit: Submitted

A. Favorite Design, 4432 N. Kedzie Ave. Website.

Albany Park’s A. Favorite Design has a selection of unique holiday cards and stationary at its brick-and-mortar shop and online. In addition to a selection of seasonal cards ($6), the shop carries an assortment of festive gift wraps ($8.50-$17) and unique stationary to show off Chicago pride ($6).

Hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursdays and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 773-412-0891. Instagram.

The pop-up shop will have vendors like Daisy Bags selling cell phone help gnomes.

Albany Park Artisan Pop-Up Shop, 4730 N. Kimball Ave. Website.

A pop-up shop showcasing a variety of artisan vendors will take over an Albany Park storefront Nov. 15 through Feb. 14. Vendors will have unique gifts such as Daisy Bags’ cellphone help gnomes ($28) — a small bag that can attach to belt loops with carabiners to organize phone, money and essential cards when hiking, biking or walking the dog.

Other participating vendors:

The pop-up is open 3-8 p.m. Thursday-Friday and noon p.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. 

Helsinki tea towel made in Finland (left) and Lars wild Swedish lingonberry preserves. Credit: Provided.

The Sweden Shop, 3304 W. Foster Ave. Website.

This unique shop specializes in Scandinavian items such as a Helsinki tea towel made in Finland ($22) as well as Lars wild Swedish lingonberry preserves ($8.95).

The Sweden Shop is open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays. 773-478-0327. Facebook.

Cog Cycles Chicago owners Brian Kremen, Liz Hilt and their dog, Tater, pose for a photo behind their new collection of yarn at the shop, 3217 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Credit: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Club Chicago

Cog Cycles And Yarns, 3217 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Website.

Married couple Brian Kremen and Liz Hilt relaunched Cog Cycles as a half bike shop, half yarn shop in November and now offer classes and workshops for beginners on knitting and crocheting kits on a sliding scale ($20-$30) alongside their more bike-centric inventory.

Cog Cycle’s hours are 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Fridays and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. 312-373-0095. Instagram.

Irving Park

Vichcraft owner Jenna Blazevich’s crank and wheel Cornely A chain stitch machine is a little over 100 years old and when creating a custom designs. Credit: Alex V. Hernandez/Block Club Chicago

Vitchcraft, 3757 N. Kedzie Ave. Website.

Owner Jenna Blazevich’s crank-and-wheel Cornely A chainstitch machine is a little more than 100 years old — but it still works well for her customers’ stitching needs. When creating a custom design, Blazevich leads the direction of the needle freehand over pennants, shirts and other items. 

Blazevich recently moved her business to Irving Park, where she can use her skills to customize a mini pendant ($38) for customers with up to nine characters (including spaces) of custom chainstitch in white script.

Blazevich also has apparel such as the “Toxic Masculinity Ruins The Party Again” T-shirt ($32) and a felt banner on a dowel rod with leather cord that says “As For Me And My House, We Will Serve Malört” ($65).

Vichcraft’s studio is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. Instagram.

Nature’s Trace soaps at a market. Credit: Provided.

Nature’s Trace. Online shop.

Rachel Sloan, a small-batch soapmaker, uses honey and beeswax from her hives on a micro-farm in Irving Park. 

Sloan formulated her recipes to create a hard, long-lasting bar with a strong lather, nourishing ingredients and soothing scents.

This season, Sloan has gift sets such as the Forest Bathing Bundle ($30) and limited-edition soaps such as Isle of Islay ($9) and Forest Ramble ($9) inspired by seeds or stems Sloan finds on hikes or from customer ideas. 

Available for shipping. Curbside pickup is available. 312-380-1064. orders@naturestraceco.comInstagram.

A variety of Venetian-style glazed ceramic masks from New Orleans. Credit: Provided.

Proper Bonkers, 4003 N. Elston Ave. Website.

Properly Bonkers is furniture store with an eclectic collection of high-quality vintage, antique and contemporary home decor items and art that could be considered properly bonkers. Owners Ron and Irena Terman opened the shop about a year ago. 

Its items range from a variety of Venetian-style glazed ceramic masks ($25-$70) from New Orleans to a vintage lamp circa 1900-1910 cut in the “Harvard” pattern ($1,179) alongside other curios that fall between those prices. 

“The shop also has orignial art like paintings and studio pottery that range in price from $50 to $1,500,” Ron Terman said. “Those are some of our big sellers.”

Proper Bonkers is open 1-6 p.m. daily. 773-789-1124. Instagram


David Odefey, owner of Gnome Brew at 2026 W. Montrose Ave. Credit: alex v. hernandez/block club chicago

Gnome Brew, 2026 W. Montrose Ave. Website.

Gnome Brew owner David Odefey opened his shop with the goal of making people with even a passing interest in home brewing feel welcome to drop by and learn more about the craft.

In addition to classes ($40) at the shop where Odefey shows people how to brew English porters, vanilla oatmeal stouts and West Coast IPAs, he sells a variety of kits ($35.99-$309.99) that allow customers to continue their brewing education at home. 

Gnome Brew is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. 773-961-7750. Instagram.

Hazel is selling a scented candle to benefit Common Pantry. Credit: Provided.

Hazel, 1835 W. Montrose Ave. Website.

Hazel features handcrafted jewelry, cards, flowers and other unique gifts — plus free wrapping — at its boutique Ravenswood shop.

This season’s gift bundles include a men’s space sock bundle ($22) and B—-es Get Stuff Done Bundle ($36) with an oven mitt, survival tools and more, among other stocking stuffers. The shop is also selling a scented soy wax candle to benefit Common Pantry ($25).

Hazel is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. 773-769-2227. Instagram.

A Britannia mug featuring a Celtic swirl in a brass finish Credit: Provided.

Celtica Gifts, 1940 W. Montrose Ave. Website.

The shop carries a selection of gifts such as Solvar sterling silver cross stud earrings ($32) jewelry, Aran sweaters made with 100 percent merino wool ($138) and glassware such as a Britannia mug featuring a Celtic swirl in a brass finish ($29.50).

Hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. 773-784-7712.

Koval Distillery, 4241 N. Ravenswood Ave. Website.

When Koval opened in 2008, it was the first distillery to open in Chicago since the end of Prohibition. 

Since opening its taproom last year, the distillery has added a variety of events where fans can enjoy tours with the distillery’s founders, cocktail and yoga classes, wreath-making workshops and more ($12-$85).

Fans of the distillery’s artisan single-barrel aged spirits may enjoy the whiskey trio gift pack ($51), which features Koval’s most popular rye, four-grain and bourbon-style spirits in a 200-milliliter format.

Fans of gin may enjoy Koval’s other trio gift pack ($42), which features the botanical flavors of the distillery’s dry, barrel-aged and cranberry gins.

Koval’s on-site store is open 2-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 2-8 p.m. Fridays and noon-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. 312-878-7988. Instagram.

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Do you own a shop or want to boost a local business during the holidays? Submit its information here and we’ll add it to a reader gift guide! It’ll come out in early December.

Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park reporterrnrnalex@blockclubchi.orgnnLincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park Twitter @avhndz