HYDE PARK — It’s nice to get a gift that tells a story about where it came from.
This holiday season, it’s not hard to find a modest gift that is rich with the history of Hyde Park and its surrounding areas.
Freehling Pot and Pan, 1365 E. 53rd St., is one of the oldest retailers in the neighborhood. We love their collection of four mugs with sketches of famous Hyde Park landmarks. At $8.50 each, you can choose from the Robie House, University of Chicago professors’ row houses, Promontory Point or the Museum of Science and Industry. Or just get one of each.
On the more exotic end, the store stocks hand-painted candles from Johannesburg, South Africa.
Neighborly is also trying to offer a local option with a kitchen apron by Hyde Park-based Ann Perry Designs ($50). The store at 1506 E. 53rd St. will be open through Dec. 23 as a pop-up and also carries Urban Accents mulling spices ($4.50-$10), which are made in Ravenswood.
Meadowlark is another newcomer to 53rd Street. There you'll find jewelry fashioned from old bicycle tires ($13-$30) by Humboldt Park artist Alexis Ellers. The pop-up shop, open at 1457 E. 53rd St. through Jan. 9, also has a selection of seasonal soaps like vanilla hazelnut, cranberry fig and peppermint patty from Neptune Soaps of Rhinelander, Wisc.
Toys Et Cetera is one of the first toy stores in Chicago to carry the MasterKitz art projects designed by Michelle Talbot of west suburban Oak Park. The $30 sets provide stencils and instructions for kids to create their own versions of iconic works of art like Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.”
The toystore, 1502 E. 55th St., has been a stalwart of Hyde Park retail since 1976 and also carries a selection of brainteasers and logic puzzles, like the $20 Logic Dots game of deduction, that seem to so appealing to smart Hyde Park kids.
For those looking for a more one-of-a-kind gift, the Silver Umbrella at 5305 S. Hyde Park Blvd. offers clothing, fine china, ties and jewelry lovingly worn in by Hyde Parkers starting at less than $20.
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