News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

Belle Up Boutique

Look-a-like characters inspired by the movie, “Frozen,” to visit local businesses for last week of Hyde Park Holiday Nights

For the last week of the Hyde Park Holiday Nights festivities, look-a-like characters inspired by the popular movie, “Frozen,” will be welcoming children at eight local stores on Thursday, Dec. 17, from 5-7 p.m.

Based on popular demand, there will be two Elsa-inspired characters coming to Hyde Park, with the first Elsa visiting Toys Etcetera at 1502 E. 55th Street in The Courtyard Shops at Hyde Park Shopping Center from 5-5:45 p.m., before stopping a few doors down at Wesley’s Shoe Corral at 1506 E. 55th Street from 6-7 p.m. For “Frozen” fans, Toys Etcetera has a wide selection of licensed “Frozen” merchandise including Elsa and Anna dolls, Ravensburger puzzles, story and sticker books, costumes, doll clothing, braids, and jewelry. Wesley’s Shoe Corral is offering free “Frozen” stickers and popcorn for all children.

The second Elsa look-a-like will be at Bellē Up Boutique at 1504 E. 53rd Street from 5-5:45 p.m., and then across the street at Lively Athletics, 1457 E. 53rd Street from 6-7 p.m. Bellē Up will offer a free $10 gift card for those who check in at the store’s Facebook or Yelp pages between 5-7 p.m., as well as a “Frozen”-themed craft for children to make as a keepsake.

The Anna look-a-like will start at Harper Court’s new Einstein Bros. Bagels at 5230 S. Harper Court from 5-5:45 p.m. and then move to Kilwins, 5226 S. Harper Avenue from 6-7 p.m. Kilwins will be offering free fudge and hot chocolate samples from 6-7 p.m. as well as 10% off all purchases during the hour with the secret password, “Downtown Hyde Park.”

Children can visit the Olaf look-a-like at Ancien, the new bicycle shop and café located at 1558 E. 53rd Street from 5-5:45 p.m. and then at Freehling Pot and Pan Co. at 1365 E. 53rd Street from 6-7 p.m. Freehling will be providing complimentary cookies and cider.

Harper Court is a great place for families to meet before visiting all the characters – Einstein Bros. Bagels is hosting the Hot Chocolate Welcome Station at Harper Court with complimentary hot chocolate and sweets, while supplies last. Native Foods, also at Harper Court, will be offering free “chaider” samples – a mixture of cider and chai tea. Chipotle will be offering first come, first served coupons for free children’s meals to the first 25 guests at the restaurant between 5-7 p.m.

For the full schedule, visit the event website. Be sure to tag your photos and videos with #HPHoliday to share in all the fun.

FROZEN and all related characters and elements (C) & ™ Walt Disney Pictures, Inc.

Sir & Madame boutique returns to Hyde Park with permanent location

It’s a happy homecoming for Hyde Park natives Brian and Autumn Merritt, opening a permanent location of their clothing and accessories boutique Sir & Madame, at 5225 S. Harper Court on August 17, 2015 – it’s also great news for area shoppers who gravitate to their “classic with a twist” design aesthetic.

Hyde Parkers may remember Sir & Madame’s temporary pop-up location at 1504 E. 53rd Street – the store opened in September 2013 in the space now occupied by Belle Up Boutique. Sir & Madame’s “urban sophisticate” offerings were enthusiastically received by the Hyde Park community, and the Merritts said they hoped to open a permanent location once their Ukrainian Village lease ended.

The couple first met as students at Ray Elementary, attended Kenwood Academy together, and now they’re back in the neighborhood with the opening of Sir & Madame in the Harper Court development, next door to Nancy Krause Floral Design & Garden Antiques. When their pop-up store opened, Ms. Merritt explained, “We're all about Hyde Park. We're back on the block…We grew up walking 53rd Street. When we were teenagers, it was the place to be—where all the cool people were. All of that was sort of lost until now, and we want to be a part of bringing that back…We definitely see Hyde Park as a viable market, and I think everyone here can appreciate well-made clothes and accessories “

“We always knew that Sir & Madame was a great fit for Hyde Park and with the 53rd Street area increasingly becoming known as a vibrant shopping and dining destination, we could not be happier to welcome them back,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University. “It’s a great benefit to the Hyde Park community when a pop-up shop owner experiences the vitality and charm of the neighborhood and decides to make the area a permanent home for his or her business."

Third generation silhouette artist comes to Bellē Up Boutique on 53rd Street

Bellē Up Boutique, at 1504 E. 53rd Street, is welcoming Erik Johnson, a third-generation silhouette artist, to its store on Monday, June 1, from 3-6 p.m.

Erik is a world-renowned artist who travels the country, cutting his keepsake silhouettes by hand in five minutes or less. Bellē Up has hosted him several times over the last few years in its Beverly store, and those events have proven popular with customers. Silhouettes are a unique way to document babies, children, teens, and adults, and they make excellent gifts.

The art of silhouette cutting began in Europe in the early 1700s – at first it was just for the royal class, but by the 1800s silhouette artists had come to America and were capturing the likenesses of everyone from American politicians to local people at county fairs. It is estimated there are as few as 15 remaining silhouette artists in the United States.

To see samples of Erik’s work, visit his Facebook page. Silhouettes will be available for purchase at Bellē Up on June 1.

To sign up for an appointment, click here.

Spring “First Weekend” on 53rd Street offers discounts, free samples, and fun for UChicago students, April 10 and 11

More than 40 merchants from Hyde Park’s 53rd Street will be celebrating spring as they welcome University of Chicago students back to school with the First Weekend event on Friday and Saturday, April 10 and 11, from 6-11 p.m.

Coordinated as part of the University’s UChicago Local initiative to support businesses on the mid-South Side, the upcoming event includes 16 stores, 22 restaurants, and 5 other local businesses – each offering special sales, samples, discounts, raffles, and events for students with a current UChicago ID.

Some of the event highlights for students include the new pop-up shop Lively Athletics’ (5241 S. Harper Ave.) offer of a pair free Feetures socks for the first 50 female students to have a video gait analysis in the store, the Promontory’s (5311 S. Lake Park Ave. West) free tickets to see blues artist Billy Branch for the first 100 students, Bonne Sante’s (1512 E. 53rd St.) shake and panini samples, new pop-up shop Belle Up Boutique’s (1504 E. 53rd St.) gift of a Chicago map necklace with $50 purchase, The Great Frame Up’s (1418 E. 53rd St.) 30% discount on framing, new pop-up shop The Silver Room’s (1506 E. 53rd St.) 10% discount; Pearle Vision’s (1200 E. 53rd St.) coupon for free single vision lenses, Kimbark Beverage Shoppe’s (1214 E. 53rd St.) free “Not Your Father’s Root Beer” floats for students 21 and over, and more. By popular demand, the Doughnut Vault food truck will be back, parked in front of Nichols Park (1355 E. 53rd St.) both nights until the doughnuts are sold out.

Formerly known as “First Friday,” this is the second time that the quarterly event, coordinated by the University’s commercial real estate team and the Office of Campus and Student Life, has been extended to include Saturday night based on positive merchant and student feedback. With 40+ merchants, this event also has the most merchant participation ever; the January event included more than 30 businesses. UChicago will offer increased shuttle service between 53rd Street and the main Hyde Park campus both nights.

“We’ve heard from both businesses and students that the First Weekend event is a great way to increase awareness of all 53rd Street has to offer,” said James M. Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University. “with more than 40 businesses participating, the weekend should be a positive experience for our local retailers as well as our student community.”

For the full list of participating businesses and offers, students can visit http://firstweekend.splashthat.com/

Spring brings new pop-up shops to 53rd Street

Three new pop-up shops will open on 53rd Street at the beginning of April, joining the area’s growing shopping, dining and entertainment district. Maternity and women’s apparel store Bellē Up Boutique, art gallery and jewelry and clothing retailer The Silver Room, and athletic and lifestyle apparel retailer Lively Athletics are scheduled to open by early April, remaining open until October.

The pop-up shops are part of an initiative by the University of Chicago for apparel and home goods retailers to test their concepts in Hyde Park while offering local residents a variety of new shopping options on a rotating basis. UChicago has been partnering with the City of Chicago and the local community for several years to reinvigorate the 53rd Street commercial corridor.

Recent pop-ups, such as designer clothing boutique Anastasia, vintage women’s apparel store Meadowlark, and candy shop Amy’s Candy Bar, have extended their stay in Hyde Park based on their success in the neighborhood.  Comfort Me; a women’s apparel, gift, and accessories boutique which opened in August 2013; recently relocated to 1508 E. 55th St. in the Hyde Park Shopping Center where it has a long-term lease.

James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University, said the latest pop-ups offer a diversity of retail concepts to Hyde Park shoppers.

“The new businesses are distinct in what they offer—from women’s apparel, fitness apparel and accessories, to custom handmade jewelry, and art—but the business owners all bring a similar passion for community building through their stores and we’re happy to welcome them to 53rd Street,” Hennessy said.

The new stores include:

Bellē Up Boutique, 1504 E. 53rd St.: a Beverly-based maternity boutique owned by South Side mom of two, Jamenda McCoy. In addition to stylish maternity and nursing clothes, Bellē Up features non-maternity apparel, accessories, jewelry, and unique gift items for women.

“My team and I work exceptionally hard to create a one-stop shopping oasis for today's busy women—from boardroom to playroom, “ McCoy said. “I view the new location as a unique opportunity to introduce the women of Hyde Park to our brand, and for us to understand and invest in Hyde Park in the same way we have done in the Beverly and Mt. Greenwood neighborhoods over the past five-and-a-half years. We plan to listen to our Hyde Park clientele and work to make our store a destination that the community can be proud of, enjoy, and will want to keep around for the long-term."

Bellē Up Boutique was named as one of the best local places for maternity clothes in Chicago by Chicago Parent magazine. For discounts and special offers, join the Bellē Up-Hyde Park’s VIP Text Club by texting JUSTBU to 36000.

Lively Athletics, 5241 S. Harper Ave.: an athletic and lifestyle apparel and accessories retailer owned by sisters Kate and Anne Pezalla. Their first location was in Oak Park.

“We opened Lively Athletics with the goal of creating a warm and welcoming environment for women of every level of athleticism.  Our Hyde Park shop will be a great opportunity for us to continue to build that community—and, of course, to fit every woman with the perfect running shoes and perfect sports bra so that she can move with comfort and confidence,” said Anne Pezalla. “We're excited to be part of 53rd street, with its amazing restaurants, cool boutiques, and nearby gyms and studios.” 

“In addition to fun runs from Lively, we look forward to partnering with local running groups, like Hyde Park Runner's Club and Black Girls Run, for special fitness events,” she added.

Lively Athletics was named one of Chicago’s 10 best running shops by Time Out Chicago.

The Silver Room, 1506 E. 53rd St.: a jewelry and clothing shop that features an art gallery space for readings and events. Originally located in Wicker Park, the Hyde Park pop-up will bring owner Eric Williams “… closer to his sister and 100-year-old grandmother who live together on the South Side.”

The Silver Room has co-hosted events at the Currency Exchange Café in the nearby Washington Park neighborhood.

“I’m excited because our new location in Hyde Park will be bringing something to the neighborhood that’s not there currently. In the past, people would have to come north to get The Silver Room experience, and now they’ll have it in their own backyard,” Eric said.