Fit to a Tee
The viral-marketing geniuses at online T-shirt purveyor opened the doors yesterday, Sept. 10th, at their new Lake View bricks-and-mortar location, Threadless (3011 N. Broadway; 773-525-8640, The Ravenswood-based company has created a unique business model: runs an ongoing T-shirt design competition—designers submit and consumers vote. Seven new styles and two reprints, on average, are released every week and printed in limited quantities of 1,500. (More than 750,000 votes are cast every week, and  around 100,000 T-shirts are sold each month, according to Threadless.) The site grew slowly by word of mouth, and the store has followed suit by putting a Threadless logo in the storefront last year and waiting for the news to get around. Why bother with a store? “We’ve been noticed by big-box retailers like Target, and we worried that if we did that, it would be just another T-shirt and it would lose the story,” says Jake Nickell, the 27-year-old CEO of Threadless’s parent company, Skinnycorp. “But we realized that didn’t mean we couldn’t do retail. We could just do it on our own terms.” The store has 20 monitors that display information on the rotating T-shirt selection, such as prices, the designer’s name, and comments from the Web site, scrolling across the screen. Each design stays in the store for only two weeks, with nine to ten designs replaced weekly. Another perk for devotees? The new designs appear in-store on Fridays, offering a sneak peek before they are posted online on Mondays; you’ll find short-sleeve T-shirts  ($15 to $25), long-sleeve T-shirts ($25), and hoodies ($40). (Upstairs, a computer-instruction company called Digital Boot Camp shares the space and offers classes.) The store is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. And the durable shopping bag acts as a coupon—get $1 off each T-shirt purchase every time you bring it back.

Threadless hosts its grand opening party at the Metro (3730 N. Clark St.) on Sept. 14th. During the week prior to the Friday show, visit the store for free tickets to the all-ages concert, which is scheduled to hit the stage from 6 to 10 p.m. and will feature the Chicago indie-rock band Hey Mercedes in its first appearance since 2005. (Tickets do not guarantee entry, so line up early.) The 18-and-over event runs from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., featuring performances by Office, White Hot Knife, and the Assembly; no tickets are required and this show is also free. 

Top Sales This Week
Jake (3740 N. Southport Ave, 773-929-5253; 939 Rush St., 312-664-5553; 565 Lincoln Ave, Winnetka, 847-501-5253) offers 70 to 90 percent off retail prices at a warehouse sale, Sept. 15th and 16th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 5215 North Ravenswood Avenue. Find women’s brands like 3.1 Phillip Lim, Mayle, Ya-Ya, and denim from Notify and Loomstate; men’s brands include Oliver Spencer, Trovata, and Earnest Sewn; and shoes are from Loeffler Randall and Pedro Garcia. All sales are final.

Haven’t had a chance to stop by Renegade Handmade (1924 W. Division St.; 773-227-2707)? Check out the festival that started it all. The Renegade Craft Fair (Division Street between Damen Avenue and Wood Street), this year held in conjunction with the Do-Division Street Fest (Division Street between Wood Street and Ashland Avenue) features work from more than 200 crafters in everything from stationery to handbags to clothing. The fair runs Sept. 15th and 16th from noon to 10 p.m.

The Best of the Rest

  • Alternative Shoes (900 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-266-1545), which specializes in Italian shoes for men and women, has relocated to the 900 Shops after 19 years on Rush Street. Find 300 shoe styles as well as a small selection of women’s leather and suede coats.
  • Take 20 percent off all in-stock and special-order upholstered furniture, chairs, sofas, and ottomans through Sept. 30th at Jayson Home & Garden (1885 N. Clybourn Ave.; 800-472-1885,
  • Fox’s (2150 N. Halsted St.; 773-281-0700), which stocks designer merchandise at 40 to 70 percent off, hosts a party with special merchandise on Sept. 15th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to kick off the fall season.
  • Domicile Furniture (670 W. Diversey Pkwy., 773-404-8440; 3701 W. Lunt Ave., Lincolnwood, 847-568-1088) lost its lease and is consolidating all merchandise to the Lincolnwood location. Take 10 to 50 percent off furniture at the Lake View location through Nov. 30th.
  • This is no ordinary garage sale. The Hinsdale Merchants Annual Garage Sale features only new items from area merchants on Sept. 15th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hinsdale Public Works Facility (225 Symonds Dr.; 630-323-3952). Find furs, ski jackets, women’s clothing, toys, kids’ clothing, and shoes from merchants like King Keyser Sporting Goods (41 S. Washington St., Hinsdale; 630-323-4320); embrace (29 E. 1st St., Hinsdale; 630-325-1996), and C. Foster Toys (36 E. Hinsdale Ave., Hinsdale; 630-323-2550), among others.
  • It’s happy Sweet 16 for City Soles (2001 W. North Ave; 773-489-2001) and Niche (1566 N. Damen Ave.; 773-489-2001). Instead of celebrating with a big party and a sports car, the stores are offering 16 percent off all merchandise from Sept. 14th through 16th. On Sept. 14th from 5 to 10 p.m., the stores will raffle a $100 gift card every hour.
  • From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  on Sept. 11th, stop by Macy’s (111 N. State St. 4th floor; 312-781-1000) to see new fall suit styles, meet one-on-one with representatives from the clothing makers, and receive complimentary alterations up to $50 with a suit purchase of $150 or more.
  • Design Within Reach (1574 N. Kingsbury, 312-482-8661; 10 E. Ohio St., 312-280-4677; 1710 Sherman Ave., Evanston, 847-424-0881) holds its Modern Bed Sale through Sept. 12th, with 15 percent off selected beds, mattresses, and pillows, and free shipping.
  • Through Sept. 30th, take 20 percent off custom holiday cards at All She Wrote (825 W. Armitage, 773-529-0100; 566 Chestnut St., Winnetka; 847-784-8200) at its annual Holiday Card sale. Lines include Kate Spade, Crane, and William Arthur.
  • The Roadside Flower Sale at the Chicago Botanic Garden (1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe; 847-835-5440) features one-of-a-kind plant and floral arrangements, gifts, and wreaths from Sept. 14th through 16th.
  • Neiman Marcus (737 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-642-5900) continues its 100th anniversary celebration. On Sept. 13th through 15th, check out the new fall 2007 collection at the Manolo Blahnik trunk show in the second floor shoe salon. Blahnik president George Malkemus visits the store on Sept. 13th from 1 to 3 p.m.
  • The Hinsdale location of Bedside Manor Ltd. (38 S. Garfield Ave.;630-655-0497) hosts a Leitner Trunk Show of fine linens for bed, bath, and table on Sept. 14th from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Take 10 percent off any Leitner purchase during the event.
  • Halo [for men] (21 W. Elm St.; 312-642-4256) celebrates the grand opening of its Gold Coast spa with 20 percent off spa services throughout September.
  • Browse 100 vendors in woodwork, jewelry, pottery, paintings and photographs at the Lincoln Park Art Faire (Lincoln Park Cultural Center, 2045 N. Lincoln Park West; 312-742-7726) on Sept. 15th and 16th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Kreative Soul Boutique (3744 N. Broadway; 773-975-8199) hosts a fall fashion trunk show with complimentary refreshments and discounts, on Sept. 15th from noon to 5 p.m. Spend $75 to receive a 15 percent off coupon; spend $100 to receive a 20 percent off coupon; and spend $150 to receive a 25 percent off coupon and a free gift.