By Dan Morgridge
You have friends of all sizes. I mean, not height-wise (although some of us tall folk tend to hang out more with tall folk, mostly for back problems, you know?), but rather the Great Friend, the Medium Friend, the Once-A-Week Friend, and so on all the way down to the Guy-You-Met-Twice-Through-A-Mutual-Friend-And-Now-You-Are-A-Plus-One-To-His-Birthday-Because-It-Sounds-Like-A-Sweet-Party Friend. What the hell do you buy that guy? A gift card? Too aunt-y. Socks? What are you, a creep? What you need is a trinket, my dear — holiday tchotchkes, everyday baubles, and birthday bric-a-brac. The following are some of Chicago’s fine purveyors of them.
1410 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
A haven of little bibelots amidst the prime thrifting aisle of Wicker Park., Rudy’s is a pretty stellar place to start. Vintage, new, bizarro, – the stock ranges from boutique to novelty shop. Except for the mustache corner, which is of course only filled with mustaches. But also fancy soaps, sassy greeting cards, jewelry… Rudy’s should be an easy stop for those looking to give a gal a gift on the lighter side.
2212 S Wentworth Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
If Chinatown is filled with tiny, adorable shops, you can stand to reason that one of those shops filled with tiny adorable things is a one hell of a synecdoche. All the toys that San-Rio, Final Fantasy, and anime fans long for in a traditional toy aisle can probably be found here – along with any number of lucky cats, adorable pandas, and other cultural touchstones you don’t have to know much about to recognize as adorable.
RR #1 Chicago
814 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
This former pharmacy building has a long and narrow front room, a nice hidden backroom, and then a really really hidden backroom beyond that. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s for sale and what’s the cashier’s personal lunchbox, but suffice to say the presentation allows for endless nook and cranny searching. A lovely selection of jewelry, toys, socks, children’s books, gags, accessories, and god only knows what else lies waiting in this shop – their inventory nightmare is your fun adventure.
1338 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
Uncle Fun is about as telling a name as you could want for this longstanding Lakeview shop. The stock is a perfect mix of toys for adults and grownups, all inducing either a groan and eye roll or gigglefits. Boxing Nuns? Check. Irreverent magnet sets? Yep. Books that remind you that there are some pretty weird publishing houses out there? Oh yeah. Possibly one of the best sources for rubber chickens, chattering teeth, and whoopee cushions in Chicago.
2780 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
Of course, if you really want to break the mold, why not bust into the designer toy world? The adorable Dunny collection is perfect for that person who’s got a sense of designer style, but for whom you’re nowhere close to dropping the triple-digits that one of their favorite shirts or bags would run. Of course, the t-shirt selection is also pretty fabulous, and should allow you to give friends a shirt slightly classier than that “huked on fonix werked fer me” thing they’ve been wearing.
Dan Morgridge enjoys collecting trinket synonyms.