Story Time

Last fall, Chicago native AnneMarie Garza wanted to create a boutique centered on the idea that every item should tell a story. So the former real-estate development director purchased retail space, recruited designers via Craigslist and Etsy, and, within months, opened Bella Chica (1253 W. 18th St.; 312-927-3535). The new Pilsen shop sells handmade designs from about 15 Chicago artists, carrying everything from jewelry and scarves to home accessories and natural soaps. “I chose artists who are passionate and create pieces that are different from anything you’d find at a department store,” says Garza, 39. “When you buy a piece from Bella Chica, you know no one else is going to have it.” The boutique is organized by artist, and prices range from $8 to $200. Shoppers will find a brown and red seed-and-berry necklace ($62) from Erin Martinez of Rootid, who learned her design technique from Mayan women in Peru; a sterling silver necklace with a mother-of-pearl disc ($54) and matching earrings ($35) by 15-year-old Yazmine Carbajal of Yazzy Jewels; and hand-painted scarves imported from Afghanistan, India, China, and Thailand ($12 to $40). Bella Chica also hosts free Girls Night Out events, where attendees receive discounts and gifts from the boutique and a featured in-home party vendor. For more information or to schedule a Girls Night Out, call 312-927-3535.

Top Sales This Week

Candyality (3425 N. Southport Ave.; 773-472-7800,, Ciao Bella (3829 N. Southport Ave.; 773-388-2201,, Dog-a-holics (3608 N. Southport Ave.; 773-857-7600,, Julius Meinl (3601 N. Southport Ave.; 773-868-1857), and M2 Boutique (3527 N. Southport Ave.; 773-248-9866, participate in Hop Around the Shops to raise awareness about the Chicago Canine Rescue Foundation and its effort to find homes for dogs; the event is April 5th from 12 to 3 p.m., on Southport Avenue from Roscoe Avenue to Byron Street. Each shop offers a range of discounts—for example, M2 Boutique is giving shoppers the opportunity to win up to 25 percent off merchandise, a free boutique party, or other prizes, with each purchase. Hop Around the Shops also features 1,000 eggs filled with goodies throughout the neighborhood, the opportunity to meet adoptable dogs, a variety of activities for kids, and the Easter Bunny.

The eco-friendly fashion boutique Pivot (1101 W. Fulton Market; 312-243-4754, holds Dresses Week with at least 20 percent off more than 50 styles from various designers, such as Frei Designs and She Bible, April 2nd through 9th. Matching shoes from Mohop and jewelry from Leaves of Glass are also featured. The Dresses Week party, April 2nd from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., includes free drinks and snacks.

The Best of the Rest

  • Bess & Loie (1015 W. Lake St.; 312-226-2247, and Erin Gallagher (1017 W. Lake St.; 312-492-7548, host a bridal event with Champagne, pastries, and 20 percent off merchandise from an array of wedding-affiliated vendors, April 4th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • The James Chicago (55 E. Ontario St.; 877-526-3755, offers guests who book a room for two nights a complimentary third consecutive night. To schedule stays, starting at $219 a night, call 312-337-1000 and ask for an in-house reservationist. Discount applies to bookings through April 29th and stays through April 30th.
  • Cotélac (1159 W. Webster Ave.; 773-281-2330) holds its fifth anniversary party with 20 percent off its spring/summer 2009 collection, and Champagne and snacks, April 2nd from 5 to 8 p.m. Attendees who spend $500 or more earn $50 gift cards.
  • The makeup and skincare boutique Sonia Roselli Esthétique (7363 N. Greenview Ave.; 773-465-7363, hosts a Doucette Duvall trunk show with select sample clothing from its spring collection and exclusive event merchandise, April 2nd from 6 to 9 p.m. The trunk show also includes mini-makeup lessons featuring Sonia Roseli’s new cosmetics line. To reserve your spot, email
  • Hejfina (1529 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-772-0002, hosts a Vena Cava trunk show with dresses, tops, and more from its spring-summer collection April 4th from 4 to 7 p.m. Attendees receive 15 percent off Vena Cava merchandise and complimentary refreshments.
  • Dominican University (7900 W. Division St., River Forest; 708-366-2490) hosts its annual student fashion show with more than 150 original student-designed garments April 4th at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., and April 5th at 3 p.m., in the Lund Auditorium. Tickets are $12.
  • Nicholas Joseph Custom Tailors (21 W. Elm St., inside Halo [For Men]; 312-895-1577, offers a free custom shirt with the purchase of a shirt, pants, tux, or overcoat April 1st through 8th.
  • The Left Bank (1155 W. Webster Ave.; 773-929-7422, holds a Lynn Litwin jewelry trunk show with bridal necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and hair accessories April 4th and 5th, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event includes complimentary Champagne and a chocolate bar.
  • Previously open Tuesday through Saturday, Halo [For Men] (654 W. Diversey Pkwy.; 773-248-4256, extends the hours of its Lincoln Park location to offer services seven days a week, starting April 6th. In celebration, the salon offers $24.70 haircuts on Sundays (open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Mondays (open 3 to 9 p.m.) throughout spring. 
  • Eye Spy Optical (3350 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-477-2670, holds a Green Scene event through April 30th. Those who donate a gently used pair of glasses to benefit New Eyes for the Needy receive $25 off new frames. And, shoppers who use public transportation (nearby lines include the CTA brown line and the 11 Lincoln, 9 Ashland, or 77 Belmont bus lines) or ride their bike to Eye Spy Optical get 10 percent off a pair of prescription glasses.

Closings and Relocations

Sacred Art has officially reopened in Lincoln Square at 4619 North Lincoln Avenue (773-728-2803,

Until it closes April 15th, embrace boutique & bistro (29 E. First St., Hinsdale; 630-325-1996, offers 50 percent off all merchandise, from home goods and accessories to clothing and jewelry. While the bistro portion closed March 21st, dishes, glassware, and other items are also available for purchase.