We’ve gotten a bit of a reprieve from winter this past week, but we all know it’s a fluke. Usually this time of year we’re grumbling about shoveling, sick of staring at grey skies and greyer slush, and generally feeling a serious amount of cabin fever. That winter downtrend doesn’t just happen to us, though—it’s a real issue for small businesses, and can have a deep impact on their bottom lines. This sort of combined ennui led Ann Campos, a small business owner with event planning experience, to an idea. Why not give shoppers a reason to leave their house by planning a self-guided road trip through the region’s vintage and antique stores? Now in its fifth year, the Vintage Shop Hop, which will take place this weekend, March 2nd and 3rd, features over 400 locally owned shops and includes boutiques, barn sales, restaurants and more all around the Illinois/Wisconsin state line. The event hopes to give local businesses a low-cost way to promote themselves while providing a fun event for anyone interested in a shopping extravaganza.
Campos used her event planning expertise to round up retailers and make it easy for shoppers to explore. Anyone who wants to shop will find a huge array of retailers spanning a huge swath of Illinois and Wisconsin. There’s even some lodging options suggested if you want to go the distance and turn it into a legit road trip. Campos wants to ensure shoppers are prepared, and has created a handy Google Map that has shops color coded and divided by region, so you can target an area to explore and easily find everything happening in the neighborhood. Go as far west as Freeport, down south as far as Clutter and Braidwood, or a little closer to home in La Grange, Lombard, Westchester and Lisle.
In order to be considered for participation in the Vintage Shop Hop, each shop must offer some sort of “special”- so there’ll be sales and events galore, including fun promotions and demos. If you’re not that into the shopping aspect, the trip could be fun on another level, as many of the downtown districts have interesting historical locations and buildings to explore. In Darlington, Wisconsin, for example, there’s a brewpub to stop at that’s equal parts shop and brewhouse housed in a 1930’s gas station.
The massive layout of this event means you can customize it to your liking, and since it’s well organized, you can plot your own route, pick the kinds of stores that suit you, and set up a whole day easily. Go for the small-town exploration aspect, to look for something truly awesome for your home, or just to support small business in their off season, and we think you’ll be sure to have a great time.