For a concentrated, two-hour Rockford shopping spree, head to the Shops of Edgebrook outdoor mall. Our picks from among these eclectic, independent stores are Needle and I for counted cross-stitch patterns, thread and tools; Wonderland Books and Toys; and girly gifts from Annie's (shea butter soaps at $5 a bar). Bjones boutique's hip fashions carry top-dollar prices (skinny jeans for $182!), but the accessories are more affordable, along the lines of silver hoop earrings for $58. Infinitely Sweet carries picture-perfect baby outfits, adorable Onesies and tutus.
Artale Wine Company is worth navigating Rockford's perimeter of major thoroughfares. Here, father-son shopkeepers inventory 1,100 wines and 450 craft beers from around the world, all displayed in dark wood, librarylike cabinets. And when driving down busy East State Street, keep your eyes peeled for a bright red cottage-shop called Finials, a Swedish importer of high-quality linens, hand-blown Orrefors crystal, hand-woven sweaters, hand-carved wooden figurines and Christmas decorations.
Judging by the facade, Crimson Ridge looks more like a brick office building than a girlfriends superstore/go-to gift shop packed with jewelry, handbags, frocks and home decor by the likes of Vera Bradley, Dooney and Bourke, Swarovski, and Waterford.