Exceptional Craftsmanship
Rejoice, fans of the popular Renegade Craft Fair. The fair, which happens next month on September 15th and 16th along Division Street, in conjunction with the Do Division Street Fest, has spawned a permanent extension-a new store called Renegade Handmade (1924 W. Division St.; 773-227-2707) that carries high-style, handmade items from 60 designers, with no macaroni art or tea cozies in sight. Co-owners Sue Blatt and Kathleen Habbley, who started the fest together in 2003, saw the need to create a year-round space for the D.I.Y. crafts. “There’s nothing else like it in the city,” Blatt says. The main draw here is gift-appropriate items that may not be necessities, but are really fun. (For instance, no one needs a shadow puppet from Owly, but for $12 why not?) You’ll fine cute T-shirts and hoodies, as well as vintage clothing including sixties- and seventies-style dresses, boho tops, and jeans ($15 to $30.) Jewelry ($60 for a pendant chain) and totes from local designer Polaire ($50) mix it up with whimsical tchotchkes, such as the cute plushies from Soft Dogs, graphic guitar straps ($45), and great vintage journals ($12). Don’t miss the adorable stationery selection, with mini-artwork notecards selling for $12.

On the Cusp
Years ago, Barneys New York created the Barneys Co-Op, a spinoff store aimed at a younger shopper. Now, Neiman Marcus has created CUSP (1206 Northbrook Ct., Northbrook; 847-205-4543), the more boutique-like, less expensive version of its parent department store, located within spitting distance of the mother ship at the Northbrook Court Mall. The fourth U.S. location to open, this new shop has a roster that reads like a who’s who of boutique designers: Alice + Olivia, Ella Moss, Vera Wang Lavender, Tea Bags, Tory Burch, Rozae Nichols, L.A.M.B., Mint, Ya-Ya. Cusp also carries denim from Seven for all Mankind, Citizens for Humanity, True Religion, and Rock & Republic. Prices range from $100 to $300. If you have time to kill, check out the store’s unusual Web site, blogonthecusp.com, and apply to be one of the “it” girls to help direct the Northbrook store.

Top Sales This Week
One of our favorite local jewelry designers Kristen Amato hosts her 4th annual sample sale on August 16th from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Omni Hotel (676 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-882-1366). Amato specializes in hammered-gold necklaces, bracelets, and earrings; at the sale, you’ll find pieces from her K. Amato line and the Couture by K. Amato line, marked from $3 to $35 (usual prices are $30 to $500). New fall merchandise will also be discounted by 20 percent off. Visit k-amato.com to preview the collection.

Chicago magazine recently named the Marketplace Auction at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers (122 N. Aberdeen St.; 312-280-1212) the best bargain for antique and vintage furniture in the city, and the next one takes place August 15th and 16th. These auctions, which bring together odds and ends from a variety of sources, are perfect for shoppers looking for period accents who wouldn’t mind settling for a stray piece from a set. Final auction prices will vary by bidder, but at last year’s sale most bidding started at $200 (accessories, paintings, and books are included in the sale as well.) Preview the sale items in the showroom from August 12th through 14th or through the online catalog at lesliehindman.com.

The Best of the Rest

  • Dancing queens take note. The new shop Arabesque Dancewear Boutique (644 Bank Lane, Lake Forest; 847-482-0997) carries shoes, leotards, tights, and warm-up clothes (for kids and adults) for all manner of dancing from ballet to hip-hop. It also sells hair accessories, ballet bags, and dress-up clothes for kids.
  • A Chicago couple started a new online company Avery Tallman Clothing (averytallman.com) to offer tall guys a chance to abandon floods for some stylish duds. You’ll find clothing from well known designers like 575 Denim, Earnest Sewn, Generra, and Ted Baker, in sizes to accommodate lanky legs (such as a 36″ inseam, which can be hard to find in bricks and mortar stores).
  • The engagement ring store Robbins Bros. (1985 E. Golf Rd., Schaumburg; 847-619-3369) celebrates the opening of the first of three planned Chicago area stores on August 16th from 5 to 8 p.m. at the “She Said” event. Newly engaged couples (or anyone with a serious diamond fetish) can enjoy appetizers and wine, and speak with expert diamond consultants. RSVP for the event at ido@robbinsbro.com. Space is extremely limited for the bouquet toss event, in which the winner wins a free ring. Register to try your luck at winning the ring at whatwillyousay.com (limited to 25), or just arrive by 5:30 p.m. to watch the scuffle.
  • Macy’s (111 N. State St.; 312-781-3545) hosts a trunk show of Lazaro’s glamorous bridal and bridesmaid collection on August 17th through 19th. The designer makes a personal appearance on August 18th. Receive 10 percent off orders place during the event. Appointments are suggested. The store is also offering a Glam Pass at all Macy’s locations-the $5 pass is good for 15 to 20 percent off one day of shopping, with 50 percent of the proceeds benefiting charity. Glam Pass available through August 26th.
  • Through August 15th, Siren Salon (3143 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-549-0800) is offering its RED-Y To Help Package, which includes a manicure and pedicure for $65. Siren created the package to benefit the American Red Cross’s effort to help Hurricane Katrina victims, and will donate $21 of every package sold to the charity.
  • Local jewelry designer Jill Alberts introduces her collection in person at Jake (565 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, 847-501-5253; 939 Rush St., 312-664-5553) on August 17th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Winnetka location, and August 18th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gold Coast location.
  • Kids’ store Lollie (1312 Chicago Ave., Evanston; 847-328-7303) has marked down spring and summer merchandise by 25 to 50 percent off. Buy three sale pieces to save an additional 15 percent, 5 pieces to save an additional 20 percent, and 7 pieces to save an additional 25 percent off sale prices. Sale runs through Labor Day.
  • Browse the Ethnic Arts Bazaar on your lunch break. The Illinois Artisans Program hosts the event at the James R. Thompson Center (100 W. Randolph St.) on August 15th and 16th from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with twelve artisans offering items like American and Mexican folk art, Asian-inspired collages, and Ukrainian eggs.
  • This month’s Sandwich Antiques Market (Sandwich Fairgrounds, one block south of Rte. 34, Sandwich; 773-227-4464) happens Sunday, August 19th from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (rain or shine). For those who have never attended, be aware that the place can be picked over for late arrivals; but it’s still a great place to find collectibles and furniture. General admission is free or you can pay $30 for early buying on Saturday from 10 a.m. until dusk.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow may have taken a recent hiatus from the movies, but not from hawking product. She makes an appearance at Macy’s (111 N. State St.; 312-781-5445) to promote the new Estée Lauder perfume, Pleasures Delight, and sign bottles of the fragrance. Catch her on August 17th at noon. Call to reserve a bottle; quantities are limited.
  • British Colonial, Chinese, and Thai furniture shop The Golden Triangle (72 W. Hubbard St.; 312-755-1266) clears out inventory to prepare for its move to a new location in October. The sale runs August 17th through September 26th, with up to 60 percent off chairs, tables, cabinets, bookcases, and the like. Every piece in the store will be discounted, such as a British Colonial chair marked from $750 to $345, or the antique wedding cabinet discounted from $3,200 to $1,800.