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  • Rockford shops offer one-of-a-kind gifts

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  • Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct Chocolate Pattie Boutique's address.
    Holiday shopping often entails long lines and throngs of shoppers at large national chain stores. You fight to get in and out and often find that someone else has already bought the present you just picked out. But there is a way out of that cycle.
    Shopping locally is a great way to make sure you’ve got just the right gift. And by visiting a locally-owned shop, your money stays in the community to be spent again.
    “Many of my customers tell me they shop locally, and I thank each one. It makes a big difference for our community,” said Pattie Crichton-Craig, owner of Chocolate Pattie Boutique, 1676 N. Alpine Road, in Rockford’s Highcrest Shopping Centre.
    Chocolate Pattie carries children’s clothing and accessories starting for preemies and infants through size 7.
    “When buying for the store, I order items that are not in local stores. I will always follow the path of bringing in something new instead of playing it safe,” said Crichton-Craig of her shop’s merchandise.
    When selecting new merchandise, Crichton-Craig said, “Every item at Chocolate Pattie needs to be appropriate for my own children.” This gives Chocolate Pattie Boutique a unique personality, when it comes to shopping for kids’ clothing.
    Another way to make your gift shopping unique is to find something made here in Rockford. The owners of Roxy Carmichael, 310 N. Alpine Road, Rockford, stock their store with hand-crafted items from local artists to help shoppers find something special.
    “Our longest-running local artist is (the jewelry line) ‘Touch of Ritz’ by Sandee Irving,” said co-owner Debbie Aiello. “She specializes in Swarovski crystal, natural stone and sterling silver jewelry items.”
    And these jewelry pieces are affordable. Irving’s earrings start around $16 for necklaces and bracelets. Most items in her line are between $30 and $50, but she can make heirloom jewelry, as well, for special occasions.
    Other local jewelry artists carried at Roxy Carmichael include CC Rainz, who is known for her stamped jewelry featuring inspirational sayings. CC Rainz can even customize jewelry for parents with their child’s name and birthday on request.
    In addition to jewelry, Roxy Carmichael offers clothing, shoes and accessories, like the handmade bags from local artist Sharon Lippert in a line she calls “Bagz in Bloom.”
    “(Lippert) uses recycled blue jean pockets and makes shoulder bags and body purses perfect for cell phones, licenses and makeup,” said Aiello. These handbags can be found in the store starting at $25.
    If you are looking to give a gift that gives a nod to Rockford’s past, Bygone Brand specializes in T-shirts and merchandise featuring well-known Rockford brands from yesteryear.
    Page 2 of 2 - Keith and Amy Watson started Bygone Brand in March 2013 as a T-shirt company specializing in familiar images. Initially, they used logos for former local brands such as The Game Factory, the Pink Pony and Geri’s Hamburgers. Since then, they’ve expanded to brands from Chicago, St. Louis and Madison, Wisconsin, as well as an array of additional Rockford brands.
    “Quite a bit of our business is shipping to people who have left Rockford and find out about our shirts,” said Keith Watson. “ ... They’re not shirts that (obviously) say ‘I’m from Rockford,’ but people who are from Rockford can recognize it rather quickly. People who see it say ‘Oh my God, that’s a Union Hall shirt — where’d you get it?’ ”
    New this year is the familiar On the Waterfront logo from the original 1984 design, featuring a sailboat in front of the Jefferson Street bridge. Bygone Brand also added a Marshall Field’s T-shirt, and co-designed a new shirt with Beefaroo featuring their vintage cowboy logo. The vintage cowboy shirt is now on sale exclusively at Beefaroo restaurants and on the eatery’s website.
    Bygone Brand shirts can be found at several local retail stores. Culture Shock on Charles Street carries the Appletree Records shirt, while most of the Bygone Brand shirts can be found at Crimson
    Ridge and the store at Midway Village and Museum Center.
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