When your sad, black, cloth bags come down the chute and ride continuously around the baggage carousel because you don’t want people knowing they belong to you, wouldn’t you rather be snatching up the leopard print or handsome army green bag with an ultra-tough polycarbonate shell? Find the good kind of baggage at any of these Chicago shops that specialize in the stuff.
2200 S. Busse Road
Mount Prospect, IL 60056
A family-owned business since 1947, Irv’s Luggage offers low prices, tons of brands and old-fashioned customer service including free shipping on orders over $99. There’s luggage and more luggage from spinner suitcases to wide-body carry-ons, but also cases for your laptop, iPad, Kindle and smartphone; manly duffle bags; backpacks; messenger bags in leather and ballistic nylon; and women’s purses. Get all the accoutrement at Irv’s such as TSA-approved locks and travel bottles, sleek passport cases from Clava Leather, packing systems or luggage racks. Irv’s boasts the largest onsite luggage repair center in the Midwest, too, with many repairs completed while you wait.
2876 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60618
Don’t be surprised if you see the same bag you just eyeballed at Macy’s for a whole lot less at Avondale’s Luggage Warehouse. Ben Shaade has owned the slightly disorganized place for decades and still offers name brands for just 15 to 20 percent over cost. You might have to go on a bit of an expedition through the store to find the perfect bag, but the bargain you bag could be brag-able. Be sure to check the locks, zippers and wheels, because once it’s out the door, wave “bon voyage” to a refund.
900 N. Michigan Ave., 6th Floor
Chicago, IL 60611
It seems as if luggage is an enduring kind of family business and Kaehler doesn’t disappoint. Kaehler started in Evanston in 1920 (there are now stores in Oakbrook, Schaumburg, Lincoln Park, Highland Park and Winnetka) and is in its fourth generation of family management. Expect your merch to last a good, long time as founder W.G. Kaehler said “I’m too poor to buy cheap merchandise.” The seasoned pros at the specialty luggage store and travel outfitter choose the best in each class so customers need not wade through inferior or even ordinary products. Top-selling brands here include Tumi, Briggs & Riley and Hartmann, as well as lesser-known but emerging brands such as Lipault Paris and Boconi.
That’s Our Bag
38 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago Il 60603
The Boul Mich shop has been outfitting Chicagoans for over 30 years and is a favorite of office workers who can survey the latest goods at lunchtime. Stocking quality brands like Tumi, Cole-Haan, Hartmann and Brighton, the shop is constantly serving up new designers and manufacturers, too. That’s Our Bag promises that if you find a lower price on a piece, either before or within 30 days of your purchase, the shop will match any competitors’ advertised internet price on in-stock items, including coupons. (Fine print - must be same exact color and style number/name that is in That’s Our Bag and applies to all factory-perfect merchandise sold by authorized dealers).
I Medici Firenze
520 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
The difference between the luggage available at a department store and the the collection of luxurious, handmade leather luggage at I Medici Firenze is akin to comparing button mushrooms and rare European white truffles. The heady scent of new leather is dizzying in this serene shop above Michigan Avenue. The owners are from Florence (Firenze), Italy and launched I Medici in 1999 offering durable, sophisticated, genuine Italian leather bags to discerning Chicagoans. Choose among briefcases, luggage, handbags, laptop cases, duffle bags and backpacks all featuring eco-friendly naturally tanned leather. Molto bello!
Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.