I'm feeling a little holiday-ed out right now, so I thought I'd switch it up and tell you about one of my favorite hidden gems: Before there was GNC or CVS there was Merz Apothecary. The store maintains that old-world flair so successfully that you forget you're in Lincoln Square.
I've been visiting this store for 10 years now, and I'm endlessly baffled by all of the stuff they sell: soaps, teas, lotions, homeopathic cures, candles, baby items, aromatherapy, vitamins, all from around the world. My husband isn't one for speacialty products, but he buys the snootiest shaving stuff from Merz. (It got him to start shaving everyday so I'm very happy.) I think it's so much fun just to sift through all of the different items they have.
Merz Apothecary has been around for 136 years! It was founded in 1875 by Peter Merz, a Swiss pharmacists who opened his store in German Town. (Now called Lincoln Square.) An apothecary is actually a modern day pharmacists, minus the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of education. They answered all of your questions about which medicines to take and how to cure what ails you. The store became extremely popular with its European neighbors, and it remained a family business until 1972 when it was purchased by a Pakistani pharmacists, Abdul Qaiym.
Qaiyum, who heard about Merz from his German in-laws, kept the 'days of yore' atmosphere of the business and expanded to include even more natural products and remedies. Even though it has a new Lincoln Square location, Merz still has the turn-of-the-century European feel of the original store. (Hand-carved wood, tin ceilings, the works.) Even if you don't plan on buying something - and you definitely will - the store itself is gorgeous and worth visiting.
And even if you don't visit the store itself, you can stop by the mini store in the Palmer House Hilton. It used to be located in the State Street Macy's - it's been there since the Marshall Field days - but they moved to the Palmer House last November. I'm not sure why, but the company press release said its because they wanted to partner with another historical Chicago business. (Did you know the Palmer House opened in 1871?!)
Have you ever been to Merz Apothecary?