If you google Wicker Park/Bucktown, the same descriptions come up – “a hipster community” more recently gentrified by yuppies moving in. I’m a hipster yuppie. Sounds like my kinda place.

chicago wicker park We took the L blue line to Damen and came out in the middle of Wicker Park where Milwaukee, Damen and North Avenues meet. You know you’re in the right place when you see this triangular Coyote building.

Right across from it is the shorter Flat Iron Arts Building, also triangular but full of artists and galleries often open to the public on weekends.

We were already finding Chicago extremely friendly. This area, full of cool independent stores, is very Canadian-friendly.

City Soles + Niche is right by the L station. This was a shoe-lovers heaven. Very high-end, gorgeous designer shoes for both sexes – with high-end prices to match.

As soon as we walked in, the saleswoman chatted us up and learned we were visiting from Canada. She grew up in Washington state, so we talked about Vancouver and how much we missed the West Coast weather. Then she gave us tips on the best stores to visit in the neighbourhood.

Moving on, we found Detail by Akira, an accessory and men’s shoe store. The salesgirl there was interested in how far Alberta was from Toronto, the only Canadian city she knew about.

Jason got two hats and two pairs of great shoes on sale. As I moaned about how it’s too bad the store had no women’s shoes, the salesgirl told us about their women’s shoe store down the street, and gave me a $10 off coupon.

The salespeople at Akira Bucktown Footwear were giddy when they found out where we were from. One of their colleagues on break was Canadian so they figured having comrades in the store would make her happy. She was pretty excited.

Akira store, ChicagoAnyway, the shoes here are fabulous and prices are reasonable. The shoes I wanted didn’t quite fit, but they gave me a coupon for their women’s clothing store half a block away.

Akira Bucktown Women is a spacious place with trendy mid-range priced clothes and a whole room dedicated to brand-name jeans – and on that day, my very own gay stylist firmly focused on jeans best suited for my butt.

At the cash desk, we got invited to some fashion show/fundraiser the store was organizing. Then because of our total purchases at ALL the Akira stores, we ended up with a $30 gift certificate – which we then spent at their men’s clothing location.

Akira’s brilliant cross-store marketing got us to spend money in all of their locations – and we happily fell for it, hook, line and sinker. Us Canadians, eh?

Akira Bucktown Women, 1837 W North Ave., Chicago, (773) 489-0818. The other locations within three blocks on W North Ave.
City Soles + Niche, 1566 N Damen Ave., Chicago, (773) 489-2001.