I have a growing collection of old step stools well suited for stacking books and displaying flower-filled mason jars. Iíve scored fabulous clutch handbags that, in a former life, were probably toted by a refined lady whose delicate hands rested in white gloves. Last year my boyfriend and I bought a refurbished sideboard and island butcher block for far less than the everybody-has-them pieces youíll find at Pottery Barn.
While our out-of-town antiquing excursions have provided opportunities to stroll small town main streets, bunk at B&Bs and drink at watering holes hesitant to shake up your filthy (the next level of "dirty," as dubbed by my friend Mrs. Moeller) Grey Goose martini with extra olives, I am tickled to have an alternative that we can reach on bicycles.
Sally Schwartz and Kathleen Finley recently launched the second season of the Chicago Antique Market in the 1300 block of Randolph, bringing an urban antique market remeniscient of those found in Europe and New York City to a friendly crowd reflective of the cityís diversity.
On this day, the neighborhood was abuzz with 30-something couples pushing strollers, gaggles of young women taking a stab at that already-tired boho look, more mature folks looking for wares to fill their Gold Coast one-bellers (a single family home) and at least one spray-tanned suburbanite woman, decked out in her Chanel logoed sunglasses and dangling earrings (ghastly). I bought a couple of old-school picnic baskets that I plan to fill with all the stuff that currently clutters my bedside table and a few vintage aprons.
A few weeks prior to opening the season, Sally, Kathy and I met had an entertaining afternoon tea at the Chicago Chocolate Cafe. Sally and Kathy are the kind of women I love. Undeniably smart and successful, each woman packs impressive professional credentials. It was their ease, quirkiness (Sally recently gave her boyfriend a Pinata shaped like and stuffed with salami for his 50th birthdayÖwe can only wonder why; Kathy reads "The Monthly Aspectarian," a New Age astrology magazine) and openness that drew me in.
I knew if I encountered either of these women in the ladies room of a Chicago restaurant they would chit-chat. Thatís my ďis she a girlsí girlĒ test. If another woman wonít engage in small talk while re-applying, you know sheís probably never seen the Rosalind Russellís "Auntie Mame" and well, thatís just unacceptable.
While not in the ladies room, hereís a bit of my conversation with a couple of modern day classics:
Where do you shop for home goods?
Kathy: Revival (1 E. 21st). Revival takes items from all eras that one would not normally put together and creates an environment that sings.
Sally: Salvage One is store with amazing and unusual items such as doors and windows that have been taken apart from something else. I bought a set of wooden pipes from an 1800s pipe organ and I use them as the shelves to house my cigarette lighter collection.
A hidden gem(s) in Chicago that you know about, but most may not?
Kathy: Mr. Kite's Candies & Nuts. The absolute best is pretzel sticks dipped in caramel and chocolate. You need a private moment with one of those things.
Sally: Cozy Nail Spa (2735 N. Lincoln). While youíre getting your nails done, they massage your legs with hot sake. Itís incredible. They pour the hot sake [itís not scolding, just really warm] on your legs and rub your legs while youíre getting your pedicure. Oh, and they rub your shoulders.
Whatís your favorite indulgence under $20?
Sally: Ice cream. I get a sugar cone with a double scoop of Jamoca Almond Fudge and Praline & Cream. I like my ice cream straight up. [Sallyís favorite spot is 31. As in Baskin Robinsí 31 Flavors. But, she never calls it Baskin Robbins.]
Drink that proves the wonder of alcohol?
Kathy: Red wine. I love to go to Sam's. I buy whatever those smart wine people tell me to buy. But it has to be on sale. I also really enjoy sipping wine at Cru because you can sit outdoors and watch the world go by.
Sally: Jim Beam. Bourbon and water. I don't drink very often, but if I'm going to get happy with liquor it's got to be bourbon and water. I love the Leather Bar at the Peninsula. But if I donít want to get dressed up it's fun to go to Marie's Riptide Lounge or any great Mexican restaurant with a fun jukebox. I may be the only that still likes The Bulls Music Club in Lincoln Park.
What local boutique(s)/store(s) shows up most often on your credit card bill?
Kathy: Handle with Care (1706 N. Wells). You can find the most unique items in all price ranges. The last item I purchased was a sparkly belt that can be worn as a choker.
Sally: Robin Richman (2108 N. Damen). Robin is a creative genius and makes things that look so beautiful and delicate that actually last and last. Romantic waif meets pirate wench is how Sally describes the storeís clothing style.
What's a spot that isn't to be missed in your neighborhood?
Sally: I live in Hyde Park. The bookstores are unbelievable. 57th Street Books and Powell's.
What was your last spa treatment?
Kathy: A massage at Urban Oasis. They only offer massage so they can offer specific types of a massage for what youíre looking for. Afterward, take a steam shower. It turns you into total jelly.
Most romantic Chicago destination?
Kathy: The North Avenue Beach jetty. Itís one of my favorite spots. Itís also a great place to think and you get a great view of the city. I went there on the second date with the love of my life and he named every dog he had growing up on his farm (about 30 of them) and, I thought, finally Iíve met a grounded guy!
Sally: I love the Piano Bar at The Pump Room. Itís so sophisticated. And, love all the pictures of celebrities. We used to go their every Easter for brunch with my Grandma. Her dressmaker made us coordinated dresses. Also, the lobby at The Drake. Itís old world Victorian splendor and opulence: red, red, red and gold, gold, gold, and the chandeliers. Itís like a set right out of "Funny Girl."
Most frequent take-out food?
Kathy: Curry chicken from Aroma (aromaonrandolph.com). Aroma has a hot scale from one to 10 so you can with your mood on any given night.
If you were a Chicago venue and were writing a review of yourself, what words would best describe you?
Kathy: Delightful. Hilarious.
Sally: Quirky. Excessive.
Take your tea with milk or sugar at Chocolate Chocolate Cafe. Jennifer Wennig delights in the wonder of tea and conversation every other Tuesday in Tea @ 3. If you know someone that she should know, please email her.