We love to feature our favorite humans in our “Humans of Highland Park” blog.  Our shout-out this week features a pint-sized Highland Parker with a giant-sized heart.  Allie decided that she loved making bows and she liked helping others.  She (with assistance from her Mom) chose the Make A Wish Foundation to help other kids.  Allie started out walking around her neighborhood selling her adorable hand-made hair bows for Make A Wish.  Featuring multiple colors and multiple finishes, Allie’s bows are a bright bit of glam for any budding fashionista.

allie sprout kids


Then she decided she wanted to do something more!  Inspired by Allie’s determination, Sprout Kids asked Allie to offer a pop-up shop in their Central Avenue boutique.  Sprout Kids has always been incredibly supportive of local fundraising, whether for national organizations or local Highland Park initiatives.  Allie agreed, and Allie sold her bows at Sprout Kids and accepted additional donations for Make A Wish, last Saturday, December 9th.

The Make A Wish Foundation’s mission is: “We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”  Allie wanted to do what she could to help kids have their wishes come true.  As of this writing, Allie has raised over $500 so far and will deliver the funds to the Make A Wish Foundation at the end of the month.  She is still making bows and accepting orders to maximize the donation.

Cheers to Allie – a budding entrepreneur and already making a difference in her community!  Thank you to Sprout Kids as well, for giving Allie an opportunity to make a larger impact and for always stepping up to support our community.  We hope you will support Sprout Kids – it is one of our many local businesses that are part of the reason we love our Downtown, and we love Highland Park.

This Holiday season, Sprout Kids has free gift wrapping (to present the perfect gift!) and the City of Highland Park has free City lot parking so you can shop at your own pace.


Check out Sprout Kids here:




Learn more about the Make A Wish Foundation here:




A Downtown Highland Park Small Business Saturday Feature

Guest Blogger: Emily Schiller, The Style Du Jour

In this week’s post, we’re pleased to feature our second installment highlighting the variety of local Highland Park businesses you can check out for Small Business Saturday (November 25) and for the rest of the holiday season for all your gifting needs.

If you missed last week’s post, you can catch my review of the first six Highland Park shop previews here.

Vintage Bliss & Co. is known for their one-of-a-kind Charm Bar where you can create a custom piece of jewelry from a huge selection of unique charms. In addition to custom print charms, the owner, Nancy Gissendaner, will hunt down any charm you have in mind. Vintage Bliss & Co. carries a wide variety of one-of-a-kind jewelry, from edgy-glam to urban and on-trend looks, to family heirloom gifts made with antique China. Artisanal candles, U.S. made apparel, and a Glenview-based perfume, Saor, are just a few of the other unique gift items on display. Plan a girls night out at Vintage Bliss & Co. to make personalized gifts at the Charm Bar for yourself and everyone on your gift list!

Style Shack is the definition of #homedecorgoals. What began as a passion project between two friends more than fifteen years ago has evolved into a home décor and gift company with a delightful mix of vintage and new. Boasting everything from glassware to jewelry made by both International and local designers, the shop offers pieces from a mix of styles (from modern and boho-chic to vintage and traditional). Hot gift items include Karen Lazar Design sterling silver and gold filled bracelets (starting at $45), Land Down Under Italian-made wool throws and PurseN cosmetic bags.

Riche Organics is a labor of love company developed by a mother and daughter team. Riche Organics specializes in small-batch and handmade organic bath and body products made with a combination of natural and premium ingredients to ease the most sensitive of skin including eczema. Goat milk, raw Manuka honey, Argan oil, and salts from the Dead Sea are just a few of the ingredients used in their products to ensure the highest concentration of minerals and beneficial nutrients. Each handmade bath and body product looks like a work of art, making them a beautiful and unique gift choice for holiday party favors, teacher’s gifts and stocking stuffers. Plus, all of their products are cruelty-free!

Rock ‘n Rags is a family-owned business owned by Steve Kessler, a long-time Highland Park resident. With the help of his daughter, Kira, the store’s buyer, Rock ‘n Rags features apparel with an on-trend and edgy vibe, including sweaters, coats and of-the-moment jean styles, all for less than $100. While you shop for your closet, peruse their unique CD and vinyl collection, which is known to include rare and unusual music releases, or chat with Steve about his local band’s, Saturday June Band, latest gig.

Ami Ami, an upscale women’s boutique, features day to evening attire with a focus on luxurious fabrics, textures and rich colors. Ami Ami’s owner, Merrie Spade, lends her fashion-forward eye (with decades of experience dating back to the opening of her first store, Sauvage, in 1984) to feature up-and-coming designers in the store along with notable, high-end brands. Looking for a jean that not everyone else is wearing? Ami Ami is the destination to shop from the limited distribution Japanese jean, Moussy Jeans, available in boyfriend cut, straight leg and distressed.

Garfinkle’s Fine Jewelry has been a family jeweler in Highland Park since 1976 when the business started in the house of the owner, Jill Garfinkle. Garfinkle’s offers jewelry for all ages from baby gifts to Bat Mitzvah presents to engagement rings and anniversary pieces. You can also mark special occasions with the creation of one-of-a kind custom pieces. In addition to timeless fine jewelry, you’ll find a handsome collection of men’s watches and casual, on-trend jewelry selections. For those early holiday shoppers, take advantage of the 20% sale, storewide (excludes special orders) until November 23.

Love That Spice marries the culinary and healing powers of herbs and spices to offer premium and custom spice blends, in-house brewed beverages and healing shots. Every day, Love That Spice owner, Marlena Jayatilake, and her team prepare small-batch herb and spice combinations, made daily to ensure the highest potency of beneficial compounds and nutrients. Marlena brings her family ties from Sri Lanka, along with her vivacious energy, to educate clients on the healing powers and cooking opportunities with both familiar and unfamiliar herbs and spices during regularly scheduled cooking classes and on their food blog. Best-selling teas include those for anti-inflammation, immunity-boosting, circulation enhancing and overall wellness. Marlena’s specialty dried teas and spice blends make the perfect present for the tastemaker or wellness-focused person on your gift list (or as a wellness gift to yourself for the New Year!)


A Downtown Highland Park Small Business Saturday Feature

Guest Blogger: Emily Schiller, The Style Du Jour

The holidays are around the corner and so is Small Business Saturday (November 25) so there’s no better time to visit and support local Highland Park businesses as you check off the holiday gifts on your list this year (and to take advantage of the extended free parking in town from November 18 – December 23)!

As a new Highland Park resident, I set out to visit more than a dozen local businesses in Downtown Highland Park to see what kind of treasures our local stores have to offer. From estate sale finds to European pottery and one-of-a-kind jewelry, what I discovered is that Highland Park is the destination to find unique and world-class apparel, home décor, jewelry, furniture, bath and body products and so much more.

Whether you’re new to the area, like me, or haven’t shopped in town recently, here is a preview of the gems you can find at your local shops.

P.S. Please check back next Monday to read a spotlight on another round of unique Highland Park businesses.

re: home re:look is an estate sale lover’s dream. This small boutique boasts an eclectic mix of new and vintage furniture, décor, art and collectibles at a fair price. Look hard and you may uncover a gorgeous designer handbag as well. When you visit the shop, you not only can find one-of-a-kind pieces to add character to your home, but you can learn from their in-house vintage and antique expert and shop co-owner, Samantha Stolberg. Not sure how something will look in your house? Take it home and make sure you love it before you decide.  

Adesso, a downtown Highland Park fixture for more than 30 years, is now located at a new location on St. John’s Avenue. Adesso is where you’ll find European-made treasures and artisan goods that Adesso’s owner, Kathy Hahn, discovers and handpicks from her travels abroad. From handcrafted dinnerware made in the U.K. to unique and interesting décor items, Adesso is where you can find all you need to create a beautiful tablescape for your next dinner party.

Alchemy & Cloth. “Wear what you love!” is the belief of Alchemy & Cloth’s owner, Carla Levi. While Carla has outfitted the North Shore for more than ten years, Alchemy & Cloth is her new store located in Highland Park that highlights apparel and accessories from both international and local-based designers. With an avant-garde, industrial and funky flare, Alchemy & Cloth is the place to find German designed leather jackets, Italian-made leather scarves and accessories, and modern and unique semi-precious jewelry made in Paris, Beirut and the U.S.

Sanctuary by Vintage Nest, which opened in July, feels like you’ve stepped into a French cottage. The shop houses one-of- a kind furniture pieces, both new and old, including stunning chandeliers, repurposed tables and bedframes, and upholstered furniture. In addition to home furnishings, you can find unique gift items like candles, frames and serving pieces, ideal for holiday presents and hostess favors.

Enaz is a family-owned store that’s been a mainstay in Highland Park for decades. This shop is where you can find your day-to-night looks with selections from premier national brands to unique items like their exclusive private label. From leather and lace to faux fur and velvet, Enaz has everything you need to dress to impress over the holidays. Enaz makes shopping for your friends and family fun with on-trend accessories like faux fur handbags and leather iPhone carrying cases (including some painted by local artists). As an added bonus, Enaz offers complimentary gift wrapping!

Jayne Boutique is known for their premier footwear collection including boots, sneaker boots, wedges and heels, thanks to the shoe expertise of Jayne’s general manager, Roger Wolff (the shoe wizard of The Bootery). The boutique is also full of easy-to-wear apparel made for day to night wear including U.S.-made Majamas pajama separates, soft sweaters and layering tops, moto jackets and casual dresses. Check off your stocking stuffer gifts with super soft UGG socks or jewelry made by local artist Susan Elizabeth Designs. 


Equinox | Highland Park, IL

Looking for your next opportunity in Highland Park?  We’ve got you covered – check out the listings to see who is hiring:

Maximizing potential is what we do – for both our members and our employees. Pushing the edge of what’s possible and going beyond expectations. Our teams thrive on finding challenges and running right over them. They get results, and they do it while living a healthy, fun lifestyle alongside like-minded, passionate people. And we’re with them every step of the way. From open communication and meaningful philanthropy to learning & development programs and complimentary Club membership, we make sure our employees have everything they need to succeed.


For details or to apply, please email [email protected]



Read more

BJJ Is About Community

Get out of your comfort zone and learn the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a martial art and self defense system that is both effective and efficient.


At first glance, BJJ seems intimidating since it’s a combat sport.  On the other hand, the community and resilience you will gain from mastering the art is a gratifying feeling. The amount of support a student can receive from the instructors will empower you to become a stronger athlete.  

Ilya’s BJJ provides a safe fitness training to individuals and groups interested in improving their overall fitness and health. Instructor and owner, Ilya Bodnya, who has a black belt, will guide you by breaking down the moves and avoiding common mistakes to progress quickly.

What separates Jiu-Jitsu apart from all other martial arts is the use of the guard. This unique attack position and system keeps your opponent trapped and always in danger of the submission. You will learn BJJ submission techniques like joint locks and chokes, as well as the ability to escape from dangerous uncomfortable positions. Students will learn all these skills in sequence for best results.

If you’re intrigued to test out your skills at BJJ, Ilya welcomes you to give it a whirl! Anyone is invited to discover jiu-jitsu and no experience is needed. And remember…your first class is FREE!

Adult Classes Tues 6pm-7pm Wed 6pm-7pm Thurs 6pm-7pm Sat 1030am-1130am

Kids Classes (Ages 6-13) Tues 5pm-545pm Thurs 5pm-545pm

Women’s Only Classes Tues 730pm-830pm Thurs 730pm-830pm

Ilya’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is located at 2068 First St. Highland Park. IL. For more information, please visit ilyasbjj.com or call (847) 943-9611.


Downtown Highland Park, an upscale outdoor shopping destination with over 100 shops and 40+ restaurants, is expanding its flair for fashion with the addition of five new stores in town.

Here’s the list:

Alchemy & Cloth – 1854 First Street. A European-inspired fashion boutique with an edgy style. In addition to apparel and accessories, styling services include closet editing, wardrobe restyling, and personal shopping. Owner Carla Levi found her niche in fashion merchandising for Jolie Femme, an avant-garde style boutique in Winnetka. Levi believes fashion is “not about boundaries, rules, or a need for validation; it’s about confidence, self-expression and the desire to curate a style that is uniquely yours.”  Furthermore, “fashion is powerful in that it allows you to be self-expressive without uttering a word.”

Vintage Bliss & Co. – 1822 Second Street. Boutique for artisan jewelry, apparel, handcrafted soaps and more. After opening Queen Bee Artisan Market, an artisanal market in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, owner Nancy Gissendaner decided to land a second location in downtown Highland Park. According to Nancy, “Vintage Bliss is a jewelry studio, as well as home to artisan-made clothes and gifts that are new, yet vintage-inspired.”  Vintage Bliss will host a Girls Night Out and Grand Opening Celebration on Thursday, September 7th from 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Raffles, refreshments and giveaways for all who attend (including a free charm from the charm bar). Enjoy 10% off anything purchased and a portion of all sales will go to the Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association (NSSRA). Beelow’s NorthShore is offering a 25% discount to all those attending the Girls Night Out event.

Sanctuary by Vintage Nest – 458 Central Avenue. Specializing in time-worn furniture, vintage home decor and women’s accessories and clothing. This is Vintage Nest’s second location, with their first located in The Glen. Express your inner desire to get creative and shop for farmhouse, architectural and industrial-inspired designs. “Our collection of plush velvet pumpkins and fall accessories are the perfect items for decorating your home in the upcoming season,” said owner Mindy.

The WEARhouse – 1833 Second Street. Men’s & Women’s athleisure wear. Grand Opening October 2, 2017. Authentic Kit & Ace merchandise on sale for up to 50% off. Don’t miss this opportunity! Open Thursday – Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Final Sale – 1883 Second Street. A designer sample store operated by the Marcus Lemonis Fashion Group. Search extensive racks for the best deals in town on jeans, women’s and men’s apparel, and accessories. Premium brands of jeans include 1961, FRAME, Joe Jeans, McGuire, AG, Paige, and J Brand.



Soul2Sole Dance’s You & Me classes are an exciting opportunity for young children to explore and learn about the wonderful world of ballet.  Combining creative movement with beginning ballet moves and terms, dancers pretend to be their favorite princesses.  As a princess, your child is learning coordination, muscle development and musicality. Along with movement, this class is a great beginning to socialization and listening skills — gaining trust in a new teacher while being supported by a caregiver just one hug away!

Taught by Ellen Isaacson, a highly qualified dance instructor, the You & Me classes are designed for children 18 months – 2.5 years old. All You and Me, Preschool and Kindergarten classes are based on creative movement so that your child’s introduction to dance is cheerful and fun. Children learn proper studio etiquette and behavior, while never losing sight of the joy and fun of dancing. brings. Classes are limited in size, however, a waiting list is available for any class currently filled.

Class schedule:

Monday 9:45-10:30

Tuesday 10:00-10:45

Wednesday 10:45-11:30

Thursday *9:00 am class upon request if there’s interest.

Friday 9:45-10:30 (*Class FULL*)

Friday *10:45 am class upon request if there’s interest.

For more info & to register, go to soul2soledance.com.


Pulling Down the Moon is a unique place of community and holistic healing for women and couples trying to conceive a child. Since 2002, PDTM has been providing integrative care for women’s health, including fertility, pregnancy, hormone imbalances, postpartum, menopause, and family wellness. PDTM is an expert in aiding women in all stages of life through mind, body, and spirit.

As a woman-owned business, PDTM and its holistic practitioners specialize in fertility and have been trained by medical infertility specialists to help them blend their specialties in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture, and fertility yoga seamlessly with your medical fertility treatment.  Whether you are trying naturally or through fertility treatment, the practitioners can help maximize your efforts and aid you throughout your entire pregnancy. Their Yoga for Fertility is a clinically proven program that is not available anywhere else. PDTM also offers Mei Zen facial acupuncture as a unique treatment, only available at the downtown Highland Park office.

The comprehensive treatment plans are customized to your specific needs.  Individuals who are seeking to conceive without medical intervention will find our practitioners knowledgeable and supportive of whatever path they may choose.  Best of all is their welcoming tea room, a place of support and comfort where you’ll see that you are not alone on this journey.

If you’re curious about how yoga can support fertility, join the FREE Yoga for Fertility Community Class this Sunday, August 27th from 2-3:30 p.m. This class is open to friends or family members who are interested in how fertility affects the body and mind. All levels are welcome. Breathe, stretch, and relax!

For the month of August, PDTM is offering 20% off their books, The Infertility Cleanse and Fully Fertile for the month of August. Use promo Code: BOOKS20 at shop.pullingdownthemoon.com/store/c/22-Fertility-Books-DVDs.html.

Pulling Down the Moon is located at 1770 1st St. Suite 400 in downtown Highland Park. For more information, please call 312-321-0004 or visit pullingdownthemoon.com.



Need to book reservations for an upcoming date night, private event, or just a girls night out on the town? Look no further than Beelow’s NorthShore. Their newly renovated outdoor patio space is a must-see in downtown Highland Park!

Located at 1850 Second Street in the Renaissance Place, Beelow’s has an elegant atmosphere with large windows, a dining area that sits approximately 160, a private party room, and their newly renovated outdoor patio has a retractable roof, heated floors, and a bar. (See video below).

All the beef served at Beelow’s comes straight from the family’s Mundelein farm. Owner Dan Beelow comes from a family that knows meat. The restaurant offers high-quality beef that is dry aged for 30 days.

The eatery (now serving lunch) has six different menus that will please anyone’s palate. Their extensive menu includes steak and seafood combos, large salads, burgers, pork chops, seafood, chicken, a children’s menu, in addition to vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Don’t forget about their happy hour…cocktails are half-priced from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.  Also, with 30 craft beers on tap, you’re sure to find a drink that suits your mood.

Swing by Beelow’s NorthShore to enjoy their outdoor patio after a day of shopping in downtown HP. To make a reservation, please call 847-780-3300. Want special offers & exclusive events sent straight to your inbox? Go to http://bit.ly/BeelowsClub.


Freedom Home Care has been a key resource for North Shore families for years.  Allowing parents and grandparents to age gracefully in their homes, Freedom Home caregivers provide attentive support according to your family’s needs.

Experts in elder care, Freedom Home Care can help families navigate parents who may be resistant to assistance in their home.  Interested in learning more?  Join Freedom Home Care at the “Backyard Bash”!

The Senior Center back yard provides some of the best views in Highland Park. Overlooking beautiful Lake Michigan, it is the perfect spot to enjoy a fun-filled afternoon. Sit back and listen to live entertainment, enjoy a meal catered by a popular local restaurant, and play some games including bocce, baggo, & horseshoes. Relax at the new picnic tables, featuring seats with backs and umbrellas to provide shade. Early registration deadline: 1 (one) week in advance.

On July 28th, join us for lunch (Sunset’s Summer Salads) & enjoy a musical performance by Steve Carson – vocalist and keyboard player who plays popular music from the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s!

The Backyard Bash will be Friday, July 28th at Noon – 1:30 PM at the Highland Park Senior Center.  Enjoy Sunset’s Summer Salads.  To learn more, click HERE

You may also call the Highland Park Senior Center at (847) 432-4110.


HP Tops has been the place to go in Highland Park for camp t-shirts, high school club apparel and more now for 40 years.  A true family-owned and operated business, the family spends their days creating unique items for families throughout the North Shore.

Located at 667 Central Avenue, HP Tops is housed in what was once Highland Park’s City Hall.  Generations of families have passed through these doors – first for city business and now for exclusive designs from HP Tops.  Though they offer an incredible range of complete design options, HP Tops will literally take anything and turn it into an image to emblazon your apparel – whether it’s t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, sweatpants, or sweatshirts.  Let your imagination run wild to conceive one-of-a-kind items (even if you need 25 of them for your lacrosse team!).

“From one family owned business to another, Ballet Makkai congratulates HP Tops on an amazing 40 years in business.  I loved HP Tops as a kid and I continue to love them for my business.  Their attention to detail and genuine care for the community they serve are a testament to Highland Park.  We are so lucky to have them – Happy 40th HP Tops!”, says Lilla Makkai Daniels of Ballet Makkai.

Personally, we at Downtown HP created t-shirts and magnets with them, while friends have designed sweatpants, sweatshirts and carry-all bags.  Stop in, say hello to one of our “Unique to HP” businesses; let your creativity flow and sit back while HP Tops images what you imagined!


Planning on attending Highland Park’s Independence Day Parade or the Grand Finale Bitter Jester Music Festival at Wolters Field? Add downtown Highland Park to your Fourth of July festivities! There’s plenty of parking, restaurants and retail stores open today. PLEASE NOTE: The parade starts at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Laurel and St. Johns Avenues and heads north on St. Johns Avenue, then turns west on Central Avenue and continues to Sunset Park.

Paper Source – Heading to the beach for the 4th? Paper Source has all of your summertime essentials. Shop the collection ==> http://ow.ly/fsUD30dhPS6

Ooh’lah Lash – Time to treat yourself this week!

Campus Colors – Shop the summer’s top tees, 5x NBA Champs shirts, authentic sports gear, or old school classics at Campus Colors.

Jayne – Open from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Michael’s Chicago-Style Red Hots –Celebrate the 4th of July weekend in style with 4 pairs of Michael’s festival shades. Available in every #Feastival box. Order yours today!

Ruby of Siam – Enjoy delicious Thai food on the 4th. Chicken satay and spring rolls are yummy choices!

Walker Brothers – Take 25% off Blueberry Pancakes during July! Locations will remain open until 3:30pm on July 4, 2017.

Arrivadolce – Open 8 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Coffee + Ice Cold Water + Treats!

The Perfect Blend – Park your bike and grab a bubble tea or gluten-free breakfast, lunch or dinner at The Perfect Blend. Free Wifi!

Photo courtesy of @missnewfoodies

Dairy Queen – Try the MISTY Slush, available in 5 fruity flavors! Only $1 for a small during Happy Hour, Monday-Friday from 2-5pm.

Potbelly – The frozen Raspberry Lemonade and all-new Turkey Club are always great choices.