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Historic Shopping District

Come into Sycamore’s historic downtown, and you’ll be treated to a fun shopping experience, enjoying the historic buildings lining each street, the parking prices that are a blast from the past and businesses run by individuals who want to provide a unique item to bring home.

Whimsical Perspective
Laura Bright loves to give a new look to furniture and larger home items, calling the pieces a big coloring book. Refinishing and painting each one to become a unique work of art, she first showcased the transformation on her blog. But one day she and husband Ron hoped to share these pieces in their own store and knew Sycamore would be where they’d want to go.

“We enjoy the hometown feeling of Sycamore. I knew I wanted to open a shop here,” she said. “I wanted the opportunity to walk to my store and bring something to Sycamore that they didn’t have yet. This is more a home decor, gift shop with a funky whimsical edge.”

Opening Whimsical Perspective in March 2017, Laura said they have been blessed to see regular customers, who are outfitting their homes and see the store as their source for inspiration. She also loves to continue hearing the gasp of customers who come the first time.

“They open the door and say, ‘Ah, it’s so cute.’ I love it. It’s exactly like that. They gasp. It’s so funny. I want to keep hearing it over and over, so I want to try to keep it fresh,” she said.

Laura chooses quality, older furniture that needs a cosmetic lift, heirlooms that will become a focal piece. Using chalk paint, she designs a piece multiple ways. Her favorite is the rubbed off, comfortable look, but if she’s feeling modern or colorful, a piece can go that way too.

“That’s the great thing about painting furniture is every piece you can do a little differently because you don’t want it to look like the one you did before,” she said.

Laura sees more for Whimsical Perspective, working with community groups and local artists, who may add displays, and hoping the store can evolve as a go-to not only for shoppers in Sycamore, but also a broader area. But beyond her shop, Laura has hopes to bring more to the historic community, too.

“I have grand plans for a French market or a pop-up flea market in the future. These are grand events I’d love to host for Sycamore to give them a different experience,” she said. “We’ll just see what I can get done.”

Sycamore Antiques
Longtime Sycamore residents, Ann and her husband, Jim Tucker, had been working with antiques many years, primarily working in malls across the Chicago area. Then, an opportunity arose to open their own store seven years ago in downtown Sycamore.

Ann said what she loves about Sycamore is it’s quaint, from the parking meters, which charge a penny for 12 minutes and a dime for two hours, and the historic buildings, theirs built in 1870.
“It’s the county seat, so it’s always busy. There’s always something going on. There’s always people walking around. All we do is hang a flag outside and put a few small things on the sidewalk and it brings traffic.”

Inside their store are antiques for every interest. Discover books, costume jewelry, clocks, original fine art and a Christmas tree filled year-round with ornaments. There are the items that give a history lesson like rotary dial phones and typewriters. And sometimes they have an item for an unusual request. Ann recalled one person came looking for items about Abraham Lincoln. They had a perfume bottle made out of a copper penny. And the store always features something new, either an item someone brings in to sell or something they discovered traveling to auctions, antique malls or visiting someone’s home.

“We’re open Wednesday through Saturdays. The other days we’re always looking to keep the inventory up and price it to sell,” she said.

Sweet Earth
Rich and Roseanne Para have transformed the traditional variety store along State Street into a unique spot offering personalized gifts, items that celebrate Sycamore pride and more.

Roseanne explains using Rich’s expertise as a graduate gemologist, the core of Sweet Earth is jewelry repair and design. He has since trained staff, including Roseann, to repair fashion jewelry and have expanded to offer jewelry-making classes. Trying to stay with the trends, they also offer Himalayan salt electric lamps and gem specimens.

“Because we have a department filled with parts and pieces, we’re able to do unusual things and create fashion jewelry,” she added.
The couple, who have operated in Sycamore 23 years, pride themselves on offering a personalized touch, providing engraving on various items, such as creating customized awards for area businesses.

“The bulk of our engraving is for everyday customers whether we are doing a plaque, a wine bottle to commemorate an anniversary or champagne glasses for a wedding. We have over 1,000 charms in stock,” she said.

But Roseanne adds their store is becoming more than jewelry. Like other retailers, they are focused on branching out, increasing women’s and men’s accessories, Melissa and Doug toys and home decor. They also enjoy sharing local pride including Sycamore Spartan gear and gym uniforms, as well as Northern Illinois University jewelry.

“We have charm bracelets that were started for young girls who are now grown adults and are now bringing in their own daughters. We have a wonderful customer base, and they even bring us treats sometimes,” she said. “That’s one of the keys of being in business is always being in business for the long term, It’s not about making the dollar today. It’s about providing good customer service and being kind to people. Everything else will happen after that.”

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