Riesling isn’t sweet and other things I learned on Small Business Saturday

One of the things I love about living in Chicago is the different neighborhoods. Various ethnicities settled different parts of the city and added an unique flavor to the city. Their story is woven into the fabric that is the city of Chicago.

Andersonville is a neighborhood not too far from our home that has tons of shops and restaurants (one of our favorite restaurants is here) and I’ve been meaning to get over there to walk around and check it all out. Andersonville got its start when Swedish farmers settled the area. Today, its Swedish roots are still present but the area offers way more than glogg!

Small Business Saturday was the perfect day to do to check this must-do off my list. I love this event because I do believe the success of our economy is built on small businesses. Andersonville’s event included a passport – you get a stamp for each location you stop by. When you’re done, you drop it off at one of the stores and you’re entered to win some really cool prizes.

What an amazing shopping trip! Not only did I score some good items, I learned a few things along the way:

  1. Small businesses may not have everything the big box store has, but you can get what you need. My husband, Dave, needed new shoes. My first stop was to Alamo Shoes. After a brief chat with a salesperson, I stumbled upon the 50% of rack. If you are lucky enough to have feet larger than “average” (like Dave and me), you’ll know that you don’t get too excited when you see a sale rack. For every 10 pairs of size 8 shoes, there’s one ugly pair in a size 16, if there is anything at all. Not on Saturday though – I scored a pair of Clarks in Dave’s size for half price!
  2. You can learn a lot from the staff. I popped into Appellation, a restaurant known for their cheese and wine. They were doing a tasting of a cremeux with truffle and a sparkling wine. Ah-mazing. I meandered to the wine racks (they sell bottles, cheese and other sundry snack items, too) and found their sparkling wine section. The guy, who gave me the cheese tasting, showed me a Riesling sparkling wine – that was new to me and I made a “yuck” face. He then continued to tell me that Americans don’t know what Riesling actually tastes like. It’s a dry wine, but when the GI’s were coming back from WWII, the Germans were loading up their wines with sugar that had been rationed during the war so Rieslings aren’t really supposed to be that sweet, but most of the wines coming to the US are.
  3. Read the descriptions. The passport we were given had great bios on each store. I read the highlights and was totally shocked when I walked into a store called Early to Bed.  I walked in thinking pillows and comforters and came face-to-face with vibrators and lubricant. Yes, friends. It was a sex shop.

The storekeepers I met were wonderful and very helpful. I celebrated at home with some wine and cheese after a successful shopping trip. I’m also armed with the knowledge that there are some great shops to go back to when I’m in need of certain items. Overall, I’d consider Small Business Saturday 2016 quite a success! 

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