17 E. Monroe St.
Palmer House Hilton
Chicago Illinois 60603United States
Find 13,000 bath and body products at family-owned Merz Apothecary's corner store in the Palmer House hotel.
Browsing Merz Apothecary's corner store in Chicago's historic Palmer House is a history lesson in global hygiene. It's more "ahh" than "yuck." The 136-year old business, tended by the Qaiyum family's pharmacist-father Abdul and son Anthony, carries 13,000 body and bath products, 200 herbal teas, homeopathic remedies, aromatherapy oils and organic baby items. Merz also stocks 60 varieties of toothpaste and 700 different soaps, some shaped like animals and uncut gem stones. The store is densely packed, and you could spend hours browsing the wares. It's fun to study label artwork and ingredients. Some formulations date back centuries, and you can find pedigreed goods such as Caswell-Massey cologne (reportedly worn by George Washington), French L'Aromarine Vanille Eau de Toilette spray and scented Diptyque candles. The hard-to-find, original, German-imported Nivea creams are on-hand, starting at $4. Besides the common Burt's Bees products, you'll also find rare queen bee jelly-pollen cream, $20 for a half ounce. Want to get on the men's specialty skin-care bandwagon? Treat yourself (or your man) to London's Geo. F. Trumper's shaving cream (invented in 1875) or the organic Lucky Tiger. Various razor, bowl and brush sets, around $100, are on display in a curio cabinet along one wall. Merz's products hail from all over the world, although 40 percent come from Europe. Everything is also sold online. The multilingual staff of herbalists, acupuncturists, aroma therapists and consulting pharmacists can help you make satisfying selections to bring the "ahh" feeling home.