CHINATOWN — Local businesses are looking for Chicagoans’ support this holiday season.
If you want to help, you can grab a custom hoodie or Air Jordans from Chinatown’s first streetwear shop, candles from a crafty vintage shop run by a Bridgeport couple, or homemade holiday cakes and pastries from a McKinley Park home kitchen.
Block Club Chicago rounded up a few neighborhood gift options to help residents shop local.
Here’s what you can buy:
Vital Chinatown, 235 W. Cermak Road. Website.
Brian “Vital” Chan was a CPS teacher known for always rocking the freshest pairs of kicks to class.
After school and during recess, Chan would find and flip Air Jordans and Yeezys over social media, a side hustle and self-education in sneakers he has fostered since 6th grade.
His business grew into a series of pop-ups around Chinatown, and now a storefront — the first streetwear store in the neighborhood.
Vital Chinatown opened in June, forging partnerships with other local brands and artists, hosting panels with Asian and Black educators and making space for a free footwork competition in the middle of the store 1-5:30 p.m. Nov. 18.
“We want to connect our communities, commit to education, break down divides and bring more people to Chinatown who haven’t been before,” Chan said. “You walk around the neighborhood and the younger generation, even some of the older folks, are wearing Jordans and Yeezys. There’s a demand here.”
The shop carries “Chicago Is Asian” apparel, by local social justice brand we each belong: $40 for a shirt and $60 for a hoodie, Chan said. Vital Chinatown’s signature dragon crewneck, “representing strength and longevity,” sells for $78, he said.
For those looking to splurge on new sneakers, Chan has secured unreleased pairs of Air Jordan Gratitude 11s. How he got them is a trade secret, the lifelong sneakerhead said.
Vital Chinatown is open noon-7 p.m. daily and closed Tuesdays.
Rong City Restaurant Equipment, 2120 S. Archer Ave. Website.
Holiday shoppers can enjoy a great lunch and shop for the cooks in their life in one fell swoop at Rong City. The kitchen supply store is tucked away in the heart of Chinatown Square’s walking corridor of popular restaurants.
The shop, bursting with supplies (tread carefully), features colorful plates ($2.99), rice bowls decorated with flowers and pandas ($1.99), ornate tea cups ($2.85) and teapots ($9.95), and a variety of chopsticks and bamboo steamers (under $10).
Kitchen supplies like pots, pans and chef’s knives are also available at industry prices.
Rong City is open 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays. 312-842-0099.
SO HAPPY YOU’RE HERE, 3331 S. Halsted St. Website.
The name of one of Bridgeport’s newest craft and vintage stores expresses how customers make co-owners and couple Elena and Gerson Coronado-Jensen feel.
The pair met while working at a restaurant and bonded over a love of vintage stores and quirky art-making. Elena Coronado-Jensen said she’d been “doing weird stuff to my clothes since I was a kid.” Gerson Coronado-Jensen enjoys tinkering with vintage cameras, radios and music players.
The couple began making hand-printed clothing, embroidery, handmade lamps and candles with upcycled materials and selling them on Etsy in 2016, while also making the rounds at local bazaars. They opened their store in Bridgeport in April 2022.
They’ve since hosted fundraisers for migrant families, queer poetry readings and fashion shows, Elena Coronado-Jensen said.
“We all deserve cool things to do in our own neighborhood,” Coronado-Jensen said. “We love living here and being able to walk to work.”
SO HAPPY YOU’RE HERE has handmade soaps ($12) and candles in recycled glass ($8-$30). The couple will put another candle in the glass if you bring it back, Coronado-Jensen said. Elena Coronado-Jensen’s signature “Frankenstein Shirts,” sewn together from multiple vintage garments, run $30-$200. Gift cards are also available.
The couple plans to offer workshops after the holidays on upcycling (4-7 p.m. Jan. 7), mending (4-6 p.m. Jan. 21) and identifying vintage (4-6 p.m. Feb. 4). Tickets are $50-$75 and can be purchased here.
Store hours are 11a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and noon-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. 773-475-7714.
Art and design appreciators can find plenty of inspiration and unique pieces at ALMA Art & Interiors, a 9,000-square-foot industrial warehouse gallery that features nearly 100 artists — including painting, sculpture, and textiles. Curated within the context of “home,” each piece is hand-picked with thoughtful inclusion of vintage and antique furniture. In fact, ALMA was awarded “Best New Gallery” in Chicago by Modern Luxury Magazine in 2023.
Serious gift-givers can leave a lasting impresion with the breathtaking “Time III,” 2023, by Raquel Barrios. Showcasing mixed media with embroidery on canvas, the piece measures out to 9.8 inches x 9.8 inches with a price of $800.
Open Monday through Friday by appointment only; Sunday from 12-5 p.m. 847-922-5736 or 224-522-4525.
node. plant shop, 2911 S. Loomis St. Instagram.
Lifelong South Sider Ivón Rodriguez left her corporate job and took a leap to fully express herself — through plants.
Rodriguez’s love of plants bloomed during the pandemic. She soon found herself selling curated potted creations at bazaars and pop-ups around the city. Rodriguez brought a print of the famous image “Chimpanzee Reading Newspaper” with her to pop-ups, which “organically” became her business’s logo.
node. plant shop opened in April on a residential street in Bridgeport.
“A node is the part of the stem where growth happens. … It is a message to break away from your fears and the ‘what if’s’ of life and do what makes you happy,” Rodriguez said. “The chimp is a reminder to always stay humble and when growth happens, never forget where you came from.”
Rodriguez works directly with local growers to select the plants she sells, matching them with one-of-a-kind pots. The minimalist store strives for “quality over quantity” but features a range of rare to “more economical” house plants, Rodriguez said.
Holiday offerings for aspiring green thumbs include the Moon Valley Pilea ($25) and the Piper Ornatum ($40).
node. plant shop is open 1-6 p.m. Thursday-Friday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Consume Vintage, 3452 S. Western Ave. Instagram.
McKinley Park resident Andrés Merlos has been selling vintage clothes since college.
Merlos and his mother have bonded over “the hunt,” sifting through flea markets and estate sales for hidden gems.
“I think everybody has a different eye when it comes to vintage, and what we try to curate is nostalgia, a love for authenticity,” Merlos told Block Club earlier this month. “Like, if you grew up loving classic rock that your dad put you on to, a vintage rock band T-shirt will remind you of that time hanging out with your father. That’s what we sell.”
His parents used to own restaurants, and his father still runs an antique restoration business. The family is teaming up on a cafe next to the vintage shop that’s slated to open early next year.
Holiday offerings at Consume Vintage can be found on the store’s Instagram. The shop is open noon-7 p.m. Friday-Tuesday.
Cadinho Bakery, 37th and Honore streets. Instagram.
Maria Alejandra Rivera spent three years living in Cascais, Portugal and brought Portuguese tarts, cakes and breads back with her.
Rivera and her husband plan to open their first bakery in McKinley Park. Until then, they’ve been successfully slinging pastries out of their home.
Growing up in Honduras and raised by strong women, Rivera previously told Block Club that making food has always been her family’s “love language.”
While in Portugal, Rivera connected with the country’s love of artisan pastries, which reflect a “a slower rhythm of life,” she said. On strolls and conversations over food, she often heard the word “cadinho,” Portuguese slang for “just a little bit.”
“For me, food is a way to learn about the culture,” Rivera said.
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