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Six Things I Want to Go Back and Buy

by Barbara Morrow, Midwest Living editor

Shopping—finding the sorts of unique places readers will love—is part of my job. Unfortunately, buying things is not. And, thankfully, for my already stressed budget, I often am limited by airline luggage weight restrictions. Here are just a few of the temptations I found exploring unique shops in Northern Indiana.

1.) Shoes at Urban Soles
This shop in Michigan City’s Uptown Arts District takes shoe shopping to a whole new level. Maybe it’s more like what our mothers would have called a “shoe salon,” with stylish couches, artful displays and brands that you don’t see everywhere. I aspire to a pair of the gorgeous, funky platforms, but probably will end up with one of a number of styles of pretty comfy flats. Prices are reasonable, so I should choose from the enticing array of handbags, too!

2.) Cute stuff at b on the River
I showed up at this new café along Elkhart’s RiverWalk, hoping for from-scratch quiche, pastries and coffee (all wonderful). What I didn’t expect was to find half the space devoted to one virtually irresistible item after another, all displayed so nicely that they’re even more appealing—not just for myself, but as gifts. To mention just a few: totes, scarves, jewelry, a magnetic calendar, handcrafted plates and tiles, table linens….well, you get the idea. Note to self: next time bring a list of upcoming occasions.

3.) Yarn at Reverie
I would use it to make this wrap, which owner Sher King assures me would be easier than it looks. And, she promises she would help me. In fact, she offers to give me a knitting lesson on the spot, as I look longingly at the rainbow of skeins overflowing from bins and shelves in this Goshen shop. I realize that what I’m seeking isn’t just yarn, it’s peace, creativity and all the other intangibles woven into knitting. This seems like a place to get them. “Goshen is sort of a secret. We’re blessed with a lot of creativity,” Sher confirms. And, with a wink, adds, “I’m not sure I want you to write about it.” Sorry, Sher.

4.) A Santa at Stone Soup Emporium
Old-fashioned holiday spirit seems to shine through the Santas that artist Bonnie Barrett creates. No wonder: Her work is inspired by memories of an antique Christmas card collection that she loved as a child. Might be hard to find the right spot for this big guy, but the Santas come in all sizes. I’ll allow plenty of decision time. This shop, a renovated 1825 general store with at least two ghost stories, is the kind of place that begs for browsing.

5.) Books at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Visitors Center
Turn-of-the-century visionaries, a recluse, hopes dashed by the Depression, a school teacher with a dream—it’s clear from the dust jackets of books displayed in the center’s shop there are fascinating stories behind the salvation of this unique landscape. And it might take several of the books displayed in the center’s nicely arranged shop to learn even part of it.

6.) Beachy Accessories at The Cranberry Cottage in Winona Lake
I am always mentally furnishing my imaginary lake house. If I ever get that house, this shop along the canal in Winona Lake brims with exactly the kind of things I would artfully display or perhaps graciously accept from friends as hostess gifts. Or, I might just choose something that reminds me of this pretty, peaceful lake getaway.