17 Unique Places to Shop in Downtown Chicago. The following stores are unique to Chicago and offer interesting and high quality new and used merchandise that you can’t find in standard chain stores.
Art Institute of Chicago Museum Shops, 111 S. Michigan, 312-443-3583. Art and educational items from books to art themed scarves and tote bags. The gift shop off the Michigan Avenue entrance is larger and more popular. The gift shop in the Modern Wing (entrance on Monroe Street east of Michigan Ave.) contains many of the same items in the Main shop but also has more contemporary items. You do not have to pay admission to access either gift shop.
Chicago Architecture Center Gift Shop, 111 E. Wacker Drive, (312) 922-3432. Everything you ever wanted that’s architecture-related. This shop also has the best architecture-themed book selection in the city.
Fox’s of Chicago, 7 W Madison, 2nd floor (773) 281-0700. Rotating selection of discount women’s designer clothing.
Gallery 37 Retail Store, 66 E Randolph St, (312) 744-8925. Find unique one-of-a-kind art made by local Chicago teen artists.
Merz Apothacary, 17 E. Monroe Street (in Palmer House Hilton), This is an outlet of the original store in Lincoln Square. Natural and holistic home and beauty products.
North Michigan Avenue/Mag Mile
Bravco and B-Too Beauty, 43 E Oak St, (312) 943-4305. An enormous selection of haircare and beauty products at lower than salon prices. Cash only.
Luxury Garage Sale, 900 N. Michigan Ave, Level 5 (312) 468-1706 and 1658 N Wells St, (312) 291-9126. High quality designer clothing consignment.
North Shore Exchange, 900 N. Michigan Ave, Level 4 (312) 374-3055. High quality designer clothing consignment.
Museum of Contemporary Art Gift Shop, 220 E. Chicago Avenue, (312) 397-4000. The MCA has always been Chicago’s rebel museum and their gift shop reflects that. This shop contains items you won’t find in any other store downtown.
Eataly, 43 E Ohio St, (312) 521-8700. Contemporary and colorful cooking items on the main floor, unique imported from Italy foodstuffs.
POSH, 613 N. State Street, (312) 280-1602. Packed full of European and Parisian themed home decor, entertainment accessories and more. Items are sourced new and from estate sales and flea markets both locally and from Europe.
Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive; (312) 665-7168. The Field shop sells items produced by artisans from all over the world.
Florodora, 330 S Dearborn St, (312) 212-8860. vintage-inspired women’s fashions, unusual gifts, accessories and home accents.
The West Loop has a lot of unique shops, too numerous to list here.
Goodwill Store & Donation Center, 1201 W Washington Blvd, (312) 563-1187. It’s always hit or miss at thrift stores. This is the only location downtown and has clothing, furniture, housewares & more.
Northwestern Cutlery, 810 W Lake St, (312) 421-3666. The best place in the city to buy knives and to get knives sharpened and serviced.
Open Books, 651 W. Lake St, (312) 475-1355 x100. Open Books takes donations of hundreds of thousands of books every year, sells them and uses the proceeds to fund their literacy programs. They have a great selection of used and new books.
I know this is not downtown but I just discovered this store on See Chicago and it looks really cool. I’m actually going to get out my passport and head up to the North Side. Stay tuned.
REP CHI, 4425 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773 696-1992. These are unique, locally made Chicago-themed items. Many are up-cycled and they use environmentally friendly printing processes.