This Week’s Top Story

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, shops everywhere have been selling out of puzzles, and local boutiques are scrambling to keep them in stock even amid closures.

“Puzzles usually do pretty well for us in the winter and around Christmas anyway, so we had a bunch in stock [before the pandemic],” says Shayna Norwood, owner of Logan Square’s Steel Petal Press (2321 N. Milwaukee Ave., “But, they’ve been at higher demand than normal … And I knew that people were going to start staying at home. So before [the official stay-at-home order] I was like, We have games! We have coloring books! We have candles! And then within a weekend we were out of everything.”

Norwood added, “I have had some customers [call] and be like, I want to pick out a puzzle from somewhere local; I’m so glad you still have them. Everything is sold out at Target! So, it’s not just local [stores]: [Puzzles are also sold out] on Amazon. I know other shop owners that are in Tennessee and New York, and puzzles are high demand everywhere.”

Luckily, Norwood has been able to keep replenishing her stock, and is currently offering curbside pickup at her brick-and-mortar store, as well as fulfilling online orders. At press time, she had 500-piece puzzles ($20) for whiskey, beer, and coffee lovers, and had recently put in a “huge” reorder for more.

Bucktown boutique Virtu (2035 N. Damen Ave., has a new section of its website devoted to puzzles, and owner Julie Horowitz-Jackson is also taking orders on Instagram. Her current inventory includes a 500-piece puzzle depicting vivid rainbow crystals ($13.99), as well as a 1,000-piece puzzle with a book club theme ($16.99).

Eskell (2029 N. Western Ave., has been promoting its puzzles, too. On the store’s official Instagram page, there’s a photo of a puzzle in a cozy fireside nook.

“Took some of our new puzzles home to photograph,” the caption reads. “All of a sudden wine got involved and now I’m hooked.” The store’s puzzle selection includes a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle depicting a vintage Vanity Fair cover ($18); there’s also the 500-piece “Laurel Canyon puzzle ($30).

And at Paperish Mess (1945 W. Chicago Ave.,, new, 1,000-piece puzzles just arrived, and more are on the way. One puzzle has an abstract pattern representing a garden at midnight ($24.99); there’s also a round puzzle shaped like a vegetable pizza ($18).

Top Sales This Week

Una Mae’s (1528 N. Milwaukee Ave., is offering 20 percent off its entire website, as well as free shipping on orders of $50 or above. The shop’s stay-at-home-worthy offerings include a bright, citrus-scented cleansing bar ($17), Palo Santo candles ($18), and a slouchy, vintage-inspired fleece ($69.95). (The model on the site is wearing the fleece sans pants, so … Zoom inspiration?)

Chicago jewelry designer Dana Rebecca ( is offering up to 30 percent off select designs. Discounted pieces include a dainty star pendant necklace (reduced from $365 to $255) and pearl-and-diamond initial necklaces (reduced from $550 to $467).

Easter Gifts

Lincoln Park boutique Art Effect (934 W. Armitage Ave., has put together shippable Easter baskets with different cheeky themes. The Stoner Edition ($85) includes a Jonathan Adler “stash box” splashed with the word “Weed,” along with a marijuana-themed cookbook. There’s also a gift set for Francophiles ($95), as well as a mystical kit with oracle cards and incense ($65).

Virtual Sewing Classes

If you’re looking to take up a new skill during the stay-at-home order (besides bread-baking and puzzle-doing, that is), consider a virtual sewing class with Anastasia Chatzka ( In an effort to keep her Sew Studio afloat, the local designer is offering personalized online sewing lessons for $25 an hour. Sign up here.

Health & Beauty

Michael & Michael Salon (365 W. Chicago Ave., is adding 20 percent value to gift cards purchased while its salon is closed. (That means, for example, that you could spend $100 on a gift card, and get one that’s worth $120). For existing single-process color clients, the salon is also offering take-home color kits ($75). Available for pickup, the kits contain color-application for hairline and roots, as well as a brush, gloves, and instructions.

Retail News of the Week

  • Streetwear designer Don C. talks about his spring/summer 2021 collection. Read more.
  • The new website Shop in Place helps shoppers support local businesses throughout the pandemic. Read more.
  • Local grocery stores will step up social-distancing efforts. Read more.
  • Out Cold Marketing is hosting a contest to win an Airstream trailer as a work-from-home space for a week. Read more.