Think comics are for kids? Ha! Comics are for revolutionaries and thinkers. Just read Grant Morrison's Invisibles and you'll know what I mean.
For those subversive, high brow, comics readers there's Comix Revolution. The fixtures and atmosphere of this place is high class and ethereal. This is no dingy hole in some run down warehouse. This place looks like an art gallery or a museum shop.
What to buy: You can not only pick up the typical things you'd find in a comics store but you can also pick up your Noam Chomsky and other subversive, counter-cultural thinkers here. Check it out! The revolution wants you.
What to pay: Typical cover prices.
Evanston is the city which gave the world Tinkertoys. Tinkertoys are the invention of Charles Pajeau, a stonemason from Evanston, Illinois who established The Toy Tinkers company. Inspired by watching children play with pencils, sticks and empty spools of thread, Pajeau developed several basic wooden parts which children could assemble in a variety of three dimensional abstract ways. He designed his first set in his garage, and with high hopes, displayed the toy at the 1914 American Toy Fair. But nobody was interested. He tried his marketing skills again at Christmas time. He hired several midgets, dressed them in elf costumes, and had them play with "Tinker Toys" in a display window at a Chicago department store. This publicity stunt made all the difference in the world. A year later, over a million sets had been sold.
Magazines and newspapers from around the world are available here - along with coffee to go. A popular first stop for commuters heading downtown to work.
If you are in no particular hurry, stay and walk this part of Old Town Evanston. There are a couple of cafes across the street. Head west one block to the Main St. shopping district if you like to look at guitars, imported gifts, art supplies or rocks. Main Street is eclectic!
MOSTLY HANDMADE is precisely that: objects de maison, gifts and toys. Quilted goods and crochets abound. Because these items are not imports the prices tend to be high - but so, too, is the quality of the goods.
UPDATED NOTE: as of the summer of 2006 the shop has closed.
The shop is housed in former NWU offices, a 1920's vintage building with interesting Art Deco-Nouveau facade in the middle of the downtown 'promenade'.
What to pay: From tens to hundreds of dollars.
This shop supplies the raw material for fashionistas of every continent. Designer fabrics from New York and Milan appeal to the savvy seamstress. Theatrical boas and tassels fulfill the needs of area costumers. Sari silks, English tweeds and African cottons share racks with flannels, florals and bridal lace. My guess is: if Vogue doesn't have it, no mill makes it!
Beyond the fabrics, Vogue also offers an extensive patterns & notions department, home decor division and sewing machine repair.
Oh yes: for those who want to test drive a Viking/Husqvarna, Vogue offers sewing classes as well.
What to buy: Bridal goods are a specialty: silks, satins, laces and pearl trimmings have their own sub-department in this 5 gallery store.
What to pay: As much as your heart desires. Search out the remnant tables for really great deals.
Supporting artisans in their homelands around the globe, this unique gift shop offers handmade goods of diversity and high quality. Native music from exotic locales plays in the background. Fabrics and clothing from India and Indonesia are beautifully displayed on intricately-carved pieces of furniture. Thai and Vietnamese pottery range from tiny chopstick stands to giant cachepots.
Each piece is unique.
The profit from the sale of these items is funneled back into the 3rd world economies that produced them.
Drop in for coffee and a look around.
What to buy: Some of the most unusual pieces of wall decor are fabricated from discarded oil drums by craftsmen in the Caribbean. The Guatemalan tapestries add vivid touches of color.
What to pay: Prices range from a few cents for small items to several hundred dollars for carved wooden screens or shell-inlay coffee tables.
Main Street, just west of Chicago Avenue and the El tracks, offers an interesting non-mall shopping experience. Among the eclectic specialty shops in this Old Town area is TOYS ET CETERA.
Brio trains from Sweden and Lego sets from Denmark vie for attention with Tinkertoys and Tinkerbell dolls. Looking for something unusual - or even collectible? The expert staff are happy to serve. Last-minute birthday presents are even giftwrapped for free - just ask!
What to pay: 25 cents to umpteen dollars, depending on selection