Ok, it was nearly impossible coming up with my 7 favorite small businesses of 2013. So, I had to create some criteria to narrow the selection a bit. (A) 2013 had to be the first time I visited the shop (I was already a fan of Peter Rubi and Pet Supply Outlet before 2013), (B) they have to still be open (still sad to see Twist, Lola's, and Freedom's Market say goodbye), and (C) they have to be in Illinois (still can't get over the great shops I found in the Dells- Alpha Beta Karma & MACS I'm talking to you!).
Why 7? I planned on 5, but couldn't leave out 2 more I remembered were new. And 10 was too many because- well- because the Hawks are playing!
So, the top spots of 2013 go to...
1. I don't think I'm alone on this one. Katic Breads was one of my most searched and most read posts of the year.
Bread and croissants the way they're supposed to be made.
Seriously, I think they're better than some I've had in France. Don't worry, you can still get your fix at some of their winter markets.
2. I don't know why it took me so long to find Room 363, but I'm thrilled I did, Mark is a creative genius. I found great gifts there this Christmas- and a few little things for myself too!
Mark is starting to add crafty classes, so if you aren't already following Room 363 on Facebook, make sure you do.
Just give me a book and one of their cozy blankets and I may just move it. Better yet, I may just have Mark come decorate my house (check out the pics of the wedding he decorated!).
3. Pie Boss was one of my biggest surprises of the year. They came highly recommended, but I was hesitant because I don't really care for pot pies. Thank goodness these are nothing like a pot pie I've ever had!
I find myself thinking about their mini-custard pies far too often. It's a good thing that Pie Boss isn't a little closer to my house.
If you haven't been there yet for lunch or dinner, give them a try. Looking for a new option for catering your next event- they're perfect.
4. Even though I only made it here once, Tailwinds Distilling left quite an impression. While craft beers have definitely made their mark in the beer world, craft spirits aren't far behind.
Tailwinds is on the cutting edge of it all, and I love that they're right here in our small town. Nope. You don't need to hit the big cities to find original rum and agave- we have it right here.
Plus, they combined my favorite Two Brothers with rum. Perfect combination.
5. I have to admit, I'm a little annoyed by all of the frozen yogurt shops popping up again. Within 2 miles of my house alone there are 4 frozen yogurt stores. But, there is one that completely stands out (not just because it's independently owned) because it's really good.
Yogurt Beach has no funky after taste, great flavors, and fresh toppings that aren't all junk food.
I do wish, though, that their smaller cups (you have to ask for them) were their standard size, and I'd love if there were an even smaller option. Regardless, I'll take their Kona Coffee yogurt in any size.
6. According to my son, Pro Jersey is better than any candy shop or toy store! For any sports fan, it is crazy cool! In addition to more hats and t-shirts than you'll find anywhere else, they have everything you could ask for to decorate your own sports room.
I've seen their ads during Hawks games plenty of times, but had no idea they were a small business until another small shop sent me their way.
Owner Dan is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. So, if you're looking for something rare. let him help. Need anything sports related- head to Pro Jersey.
7. Not just this year, but one of the best restaurants I've tried in a long time, is Bien Trucha. The drinks, the food, the cozy atmosphere all played a part in one of the best restaurant experiences I've had in a long time.
Rumor has it that they're opening a second location in Naperville soon. Although it will definitely be closer to my house, I don't know if the same atmosphere can be replicated.
Choosing just 7 favorites was tough, and I'm sure I missed a few. But, time to look ahead to 2014 and the fabulous small shops I'll find this year.
Which of your favorites did I miss? Where did you shop small this year?
New to Shop Small 2013 and want to know how this challenge started? Find out here
Are you following our Facebook Shop Small 2013? "Like" my page for great deals and news from our featured small businesses.
Love hearing about the great small businesses that I'm finding on this 2013 challenge? Add your email & you'll be notified every time there's a new post!
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.