Gus New Quality Shoe Repair
Meticulous and fast, the cobblers at this tiny, dusty shop can stretch a too-tight pair of Manolos or rebuild the tips of salt-battered Fendi boots. (Gentlemen, your Tod’s loafers are welcome here, too.) You can also count on owner Luis (who took over for Gus Jr. in 1992) for tough love: If you want to ugly up your Frye riding boots by adding a wedge, he won’t do it. From $30 to put a new pin in a high heel. 2361 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park, 773-525-0133
Sweaters and Leather
Without a Trace
You could go the trendy route of visible mending and let the world know the moths have taken over your closet. Or you could keep your cashmere timeless by sending it to Michael Ehrlich’s legendary shop, where his magicians use fabric from hidden parts of the garment to impeccably repair holes, tears, and even burns. His reputation is such that sweaters and other damaged goods from around the world (and from the archives of high-fashion houses) find their way to his two locations for restoration to their original, plush glory. From $40 to reknit a sweater. 3344 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Hollywood Park, 773-588-4922; 100 E. Walton St., Gold Coast, 312-787-9922
Stacy Bankier and Abby Provus of Highland Park believe that your closet, basement, pantry, mudroom, or anywhere else that clutter collects can be purged without guilt. As cheerleaders for simple organizational systems, they can help your office look Instagram-perfect (they recently turned a handwritten datebook that had belonged to one client’s mother into a light-box display) or just find methods to keep your madness in check (think bins, labels, and color-coding). “If you want to keep your 53 black sweaters, you should keep your 53 black sweaters,” says Bankier. “We just want you to be able to find the one you want without losing time.” $150 an hour. 847-421-9262 and 773-818-4975
International Silver Plating Inc.
As one of the few true silversmiths left in the country, this North Shore spot receives boxes from all over of flatware in need of a refresh. But the registered silversmiths who work for owner David Hartley do more than plate, polish, solder, and repair forks that fell in the disposal. They’ll also make keys and parts for 200-year-old locks, restore scale models of ships, and return electric lamps to their original kerosene. From $5 to clean and from $8 to repair a piece of flatware. 364 Park Ave., Glencoe, 847-835-0705
The Goldsmith Ltd.
Owner Sherry Bender has worked with celebrities (including former first lady Michelle Obama) to custom-design pieces, but the artisans on staff are just as keen to polish, restring, or totally redesign baubles big and small for mere mortals who’ve let their favorite jewels tarnish in a drawer. The shop even has a network of vendors to unearth the perfect emerald for that missing panther eye in Grandma’s Cartier brooch. Quote upon request. 900 N. Michigan Ave., Gold Coast, 312-751-1986
Lincoln Park Gems
Victor Martinez’s seven-year-old shop draws in-the-know collectors because, in his words, “99.9 percent of the time, I can fix it.” No job is too small or too weird: He’s made a necklace out of a chandelier and has replicated a 1930s French earring to match its mate. A puzzle solver, Martinez is willing to fix any metal or pearl piece that is smaller than three inches across. From $25 for small chain-link repair; from $35 to convert clip-on earrings. 1739 N. Clybourn Ave., Lincoln Park, 312-496-3425
Fine Swiss Watch Repair
Most places send luxury timepieces back to the manufacturer for fine-tuning. Not so at this little shop near Millennium Park, where Kent Mikolite does everything in-house. The Rolex-certified master watchmaker will work with his stable of super-secret sources to hunt down missing parts, no matter how old or rare. He’ll disassemble the whole watch to make his fixes, then clean each part before putting it all back together, complete with a refinished case and band. Quote upon request. 17 N. Wabash Ave., Loop, 312-658-0602
The Total Training Company
Mark and Shauna Stiglich employ the MATRx protocol — 43 steps to figure out what’s making your sore muscles hurt and put them back in workout action. They’re the first trainers in Chicago certified in the technique, which aims to coordinate the brain with every fiber in the body through muscle activation — that is, strengthening weaker muscles to help balance out ones that are too tight. From $200 for an hourlong session. 213 W. Institute Pl., Near North Side, 312-266-8826
↑ PRO TIP! Flex Your Sore Quad
The key to healing your achy thigh or tight back after your weekly pickup game: adding in a few isometric contractions, where you fire up the injured muscle and hold it for a few seconds (think flexing a biceps). That both strengthens it and soothes the pain, says the Total Training Company’s Shauna Stiglich. You only need five or six reps at a time to feel the effects: “Done minimally and at a low intensity, they work wonders. Done too aggressively, they’ll make it far worse.”
Chicago Lice Removal
There are delousers sprinkled throughout the city, but if you want someone to pick your kid’s head clean in the privacy of your own living room, Rebecca Kringer is the way to go. The licensed aesthetician will schedule a one-hour block to comb those nits from every last strand and offer tips on how to clean the home so the ectoparasites never return. Two sessions typically get the job done, and she’s willing to come in the evening. From $95 an hour. 312-351-1920
Carpet and Upholstery
Neil Ryan likes to say that he has “saved” furniture and carpeting from life’s little disasters (we mean you, Sunday morning coffee). He’ll travel to your home to treat stains ($250 minimum for a service call), but his real secret is preventing them: Ryan developed his own stain-guarding product that designers from Chicago to Lake Geneva trust to keep their upholstery pristine. From $200 to clean an 8-by-10-foot rug. 800-266-7023
↑ PRO TIP! Stock Arm & Hammer for Spills
Knocked a glass of Merlot onto your rug? Blot up the excess liquid. Once dry, cover it in baking soda, which neutralizes the acid in alcohol, vomit, and other low-pH fluids and keeps the stain from setting, says Neil Ryan of Fabric Life. After 30 minutes, vacuum up the powder — then call a professional. Ryan remembers a white sofa that a designer thought was unsalvageable after a bottle of red wine spilled on it. She used baking soda: “The next day, we got it out easily.”
Danlin Furniture Conservators Inc.
Midcentury Danish armchairs, leather sofas, built-in vanities, gold-leaf frames, billiards tables — nothing is beyond the scope of this 55-year-old family-owned shop. A favorite of Chicago’s top interior designers, Danlin will reupholster delicate tufted headboards or crackled crocodile ottomans and reimagine family hand-me-downs. They can even create custom pieces to pair with your father’s old sideboard. Quote upon request. 5919 N. Ravenswood Ave., Edgewater, 773-271-6311
Sungloss Marble Co.
For mending nicks in marble countertops and polishing stone floors of every type, top interior designer Jordana Joseph has one source: “That’s easy, Sungloss. They always get it right on the first try.” Using an industrial diamond wet-grinding process that produces no dust, the 30-year-old business resurfaces stained walls or timeworn mosaic tiles, then matches the original sheen, all onsite. From $3.45 a square foot for marble. 5003 W. Lawrence Ave., Jefferson Park, 773-685-2500
J.C. Restoration Inc.
Even if your neighbor’s dishwasher overflows at 4 a.m., this always-on-call, 38-year-old disaster reversal machine is on it. Run by the founder’s son, Warner Cruz, the company manages water damage and related mold contamination from apartment mishaps to major industrial disasters (like the roof drain failure at the Amazon fulfillment center in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a storm), all the while helping with insurance paperwork that can vex even the savviest homeowner. Quote upon request. 3200 Squibb Ave., Rolling Meadows, 800-956-8844
A Lamp and Fixture Corp.
Not just anyone can be trusted to clean and rewire a 17th-century crystal chandelier or update a pendulum with LED strips. This boutique and repair shop, which opened in a small space on Clark Street in 1973 and moved to the Elston corridor in 2005, is a go-to for many restaurateurs and designers (including Nate Berkus) looking for custom designs or refurbishments of vintage lighting. But the staff is just as good at surface-cleaning your bedside lamp and waxing brass sconces. Quote upon request. 3181 N. Elston Ave., Avondale, 773-866-0220
It calls itself a “candy store for cooks,” but it also caters to aesthetes who like their Wüsthofs to be Top Chef sharp for slicing tomatoes. Unlike the big-box stores, this specialty shop hones most knives by hand, not machine. And because no one wants side eye when they take in an ax or meat grinder, the staff will edge anything here without asking too many questions. From $4 to $30 to sharpen. 810 W. Lake St., West Loop, 312-421-3666
John DiNello spent years as an illustrator and sculptor, but when he brought home his first piano about eight years ago, he found his true calling: taking pianos apart and putting them back together. The McKinley Park resident will travel anywhere in the metro area to tune, repair, and regulate nearly any upright or grand. He can fix the seemingly unfixable and is often negotiable on price. “I’m out there to keep the music going, not to take people for a ride,” he says. From $120 to $180 for tuning; from $40 an hour for repairs. 312-608-6324
The Conservation Center
The 35 experts on staff at this Jeanne Gang–designed laboratory in West Town — the largest privately held conservation facility in the country — tweak and touch up precious paintings, textiles, ceramics, and even rare books for museums, private collectors, and regular folks. “If a painting is torn, we use a reweaving technique; if a glass vase is broken, we use a material that has the same refractive index as glass so it’s harder to see the repair,” says owner Heather Becker. Moving? The staff will help you wrap your Ming vase so it arrives with nary a crack. The Conservation Center is conducting all consultations virtually for now. You then drop off your piece in-person. From $125 an hour for paintings; from $100 for other repairs. 400 N. Wolcott Ave., West Town, 312-944-5401
Mark Brown Photography
Known for his family portraits (he does former Disney CEO Bob Iger’s Christmas card), Mark Brown has for years also been quietly restoring yellowed prints. “There are no longer retail photo labs, and my clients are hesitant to send their treasured images to an online company for repairs,” he explains. Brown can also mend torn pics, ease off photos stuck to an old album, or print negatives that have been sitting for decades. From $100 for a discolored print; from $200 for a torn one. 1770 W. Berteau Ave., Ravenswood, 773-325-1133
↑ PRO TIP! Take a Pic of Your Print Photo
With any print photo that is important to you, use your iPhone to capture what it looks like now in case it deteriorates further. Photos from the 1970s, for instance, tend to break down and turn orange because of the way they were developed in that era. “It helps your restorer know what they should be going for,” says restorer Mark Brown.
If your utility bills are too high or your energy report card too low, Energy360 will audit your home to figure out the best use of insulation to keep the place warmest in winter and coolest in summer. Bonus: It’s one of 10 insulation companies in the Chicago area that are part of the Energy Efficiency program, and the team will help utility customers receive up to $1,100 in rebates. Quote upon request. 630-422-1941
European Auto Ltd.
The 43-year-old business is known for personalized care of exotic vehicles, which means Steve and Vic will not only restore that beat-up Ferrari you got at an estate sale but also give you a little mechanics lesson so you know what to do when the next problem arises. They’ll pick up your Jag or Beemer roadside in as little as an hour. From $800 to $3,500 for brake repairs. 2547 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Park, 773-348-5440
Vondrak Motor Works
Powerboat owners know Dan Vondrak as the busiest guy at Sunset Bay Marina, where he takes care of at least 100 boats in the off-season and more once spring hits. He specializes in troubleshooting engine issues for 25- to 40-footers and responds to calls from all Chicago harbors himself. And if he can’t do a fix, he’s got a guy who can. “It’s like the old days, with the Zenith: Quality goes in before the name goes on,” he says. His vetted vendors include experts in buffing, waxing, interior design and repair, canvas, headwork, electrical functions, ir-conditioning, and everything else under the beating summer sun. From $125 an hour. Sunset Bay Marina, Hegewisch, 312-259-1900
Larry Stone, the founder of this 29-year-old outfit, has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, babyproofing the home of septuplets. He or his staff will do a free evaluation of your place to see what you really need for your baby, whether you live in a two-bedroom apartment or five-story manse. “I walk through their house and point out everything they might consider, and let them decide,” Stone says. One happy customer, Mia Clarke, a founder of Nyssa, the Logan Square company that produces postpartum undergarments, reports that Safety Matters “will ensure no plug socket goes unsecured.” From $125 (average cost is $500, including products). 773-281-2229
Chimneys and Fireplaces
American Heritage Fireplace
This company handles the installation and maintenance of anything fire-related in single-family houses, even those with wonky flues or indoor-outdoor fireplaces. (It works with luxury hotels like LondonHouse, too.) It also cleans out ash pits and converts wood-burning fireplaces to gas. A repair person will often come out the same day you call — so no waiting until it’s too warm for a fire, anyway. From $125 for repairs in spring and summer; from $145 in fall and winter. 800-422-5647
Fix It Guy
Plenty of appliance brands contract with a local service company for house calls, but you’re likely to get stuck with long waits, high fees, and a one-item-per-visit limit. Not so with Fix It Guy, whose team works out of a van and will text quotes in minutes. Carlos Cruz, culinary director of the collective behind Dusek’s and Revival Food Hall, recently had a Fix It technician out to repair his stove and raves that he was super friendly, quick, and communicative. From $65 to $110. 773-234-9480
Serious cyclists head to Mox for its custom-build and repair service. It doesn’t hurt that the shop is staffed by competitive cyclists who have a passion for biking. Mechanics can assess what’s needed on the spot and do quick fixes, like a brake replacement or shift adjustment, in minutes. And if you buy your bike there, any repairs are free for a year. From $20 to $30 for a broken spoke; from $90 to $150 for a full overhaul. 648 W. Randolph St., West Loop, 312-466-9111