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Welcome to Pinwheel, a style, service, and shopping guide for Chicago kids (and the people who shop for them.) This is a resource for design-minded parents and grandparents of the best local shops and services, as well as the latest products and trends nationwide for all things baby, kid, and maternity—clothes, toys, gifts, gear, and home decor.

I am a freelance reporter, writer, editor, and mom to two young sons. Over the last nine years, I have written everything from straight news and obituaries to lifestyle features and cover stories for Chicago magazine, where I am a former contributing editor. My work has also appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, RedEye, Crain’s Chicago Business, Red Tricycle,  Zagat, and I was recently named one of the “Moms in the Know” for Bellafind.

After working for years on the shopping beat at Chicago magazine, I had my first son and ultimately decided to apply those years of visiting stores and chatting with local shop keepers to good use for parents who don’t have time to pound the pavement. This blog brings the far-flung shops of the city and suburbs together in one spot so that busy parents will know where to find the best products for their little ones. Postings range from roundups of great products to local store profiles to sale listings. Expect a mix of practical, budget-minded topics and to-die-for design with crazy high price tags. (A little window shopping never hurt anybody.) And I’m hoping grandparents stop by and read, too, for suggestions on the best places to spoil the grandkids. After all, grandparents are far more likely to buy cashmere layette than the person who does the laundry.

Need a go-to guide? It took me nearly six months of driving around Chicagoland (as far south as Flossmoor, as far west as Geneva, as far north as Gurnee, and everything in between) to every baby, child, and maternity store in the area to create the store listing directory, which features more than 500 area stores. Know that these are editorial listings—I wrote and researched every last one of them myself—and not paid advertisements from the stores. Inspiration can strike anywhere, so baby-specific stores rub elbows with unexpected sources for whimsical, kid-friendly products.

I can’t claim to be a one-woman show, as my partners-in-crime on many scouting trips are my toddler and infant sons, the older of whom I’ve used more than once to get a read on products. (He’s helpful, but somewhat unreliable as “choo choos” always get off the chart readings, regardless of quality.) Without them, my life would be much more boring and would never include the pleasure of fishing toy trucks out of the toilet.

Enjoy!

-Rebecca Little

 

Read about us:

Chicago Parent, February 2012

Crain’s Chicago Business, March 2, 2012

BCBabble on Bump Club and Beyond, July 26, 2012

Red Tricycle, March 8, 2013