You don't have to drive into Chicago to shop at funky boutiques, hip vintage stores or chic furniture retailers. Northwest Indiana is filled with unique shopping, including eclectic boutiques with finds you won't see in every strip mall and big box-anchored shopping center. Authentic local and homegrown stores with original culinary and artisan work dot the regional landscape. You just have to know where to look.
Indie Indie Bang Bang
The eclectic gift shop Indie Indie Bang Bang, 621 S. Lake Street, Gary, relocated from Andersonville on Chicago's far northside to Gary's resurgent Miller Beach neighborhood. Indie Indie Bang Bang, or I2B2, offers fashions and gifts that are mostly in the mid- to upper-price range, but also carries more modestly priced items like sea salt soap, caution tape socks, and books with intriguing titles like "The Bear's Sea Escape" and "Modern Pioneering."
"We've got everything from gourmet items to fashion to children's items to gifts for men," owner Dan Trutter said.
Sandpaper, a home decor and vintage store at 358 A E. U.S. 30 Schererville and 51 Jefferson St. in Valparaiso, is the region's sole retailer to offer Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, which makes restoring furniture easy and fume-free. In addition to colorful, decorative paints that can enliven any dresser or hardwood floor, the retailer carries a wide range of sundries such as all-natural coconut candles, lavender bunches and leather bracelets. Regular DIY workshops help people realize their personal visions for interior decorating.
Eco Chic Boutique Dyer
The "discounted designer connection in downtown Dyer" offers Ann Taylor, Chico's, Liz Claiborne, J Crew, Prada, Coach and other name brands in a store that blends passions for fashion and recycling. The consignment boutique has a relaxed environment meant to make customers feel like they're exploring what dresses a friend has in her closet. The owners want to help women share clothes in a spirit of sisterhood the way friends do, just on a much larger scale.
Indian Summer Boutique Chesterton
Calumet Avenue and downtown Chesterton is home to a number of great places to eat, get expert personal services and shop for unique fashions and accessorites. Indian Summer features brands such as Sympli, Oh My Gauze, Connie's Moonlight, Habitat, Miracle Body and San Diego Hat Co. The Chesterton shop offers a large selection of apparel, jewelry and accessories, while the original New Buffalo storefront continues to feature its quality inventory for those on the other side of the border. Owner Elise Mauro has a number of upcoming events to showcase new lines for spring.
Seasons on the Square
Seasons on the Square, 1 E. Lincolnway, Valparaiso, tries to "put the 'wow' in your wardrobe" with carefully curated women's clothing and accessories. The boutique sells fashions by designers like Asian Eye, Echo, Joseph Ribkoff, and NYDJ Jeans.
A prime spot for dining and drinking, Valpo's downtown is also a shopping mecca. Hom.n.clature, 360 S. Campbell Street, has new and used home and office furnishings in a variety of styles, including shabby chic, retro, traditional and eclectic. The store promises "Chicago chic at Indiana prices." The Beyond Pink fashion boutique at 3907 Calumet Avenue aims to offer fashionistas a similarly high-end shopping experience, and carries a staggering array of designer brands that include Melie Bilanco, Lili Bleu, Petit Pois and Red Haute.
Crown Point downtown
Downtown Crown Point has an impressive display of vintage architecture, and one could spend the whole day shopping there. Amy Laurie's Electric Boutique at 613 N. Main Street has carried gift items, jewelry, evening wear and eye-catching jeans for more than three decades. Geppetto's Toys & Togs, 1 Courthouse Square,' has been called "super cute" and "so cool" and "beautiful." At Gepetto's you can find reasonably priced collectible toys in the basement of the old courthouse. LaFleur, which is also tucked away in the lower level of the Historic Courthouse, stocks silk flowers, fine crystal glassware, brass, porcelain, objects d’art, Lady Primrose Bath Products and Christmas ornaments.
Fleet Feet Schererville
Before you lace up to run the trail, you can stock up on athletic gear at Fleet Feet Schererville, 635 E. U.S. 30. Fleet Feet is a chain, but one that's involved in the local running community, organizing fun runs and 5Ks. Whether you're looking for new shoes, a sports bra or nutritional snacks, Fleet Feet has got you covered with a large selection of brands that include New Balance and North Face.