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Joan Knows: Local ladies in the spotlight

It has already started. We are bombarded with messages about shopping. The clamor for gift buying at all hours and in all formats and now joined by what seems to be the war of the turkey – compare the prices. Beware of a shortage!

In the midst of this uproar comes a softer, sensible message: shop locally, support small stores and contribute to the vitality of your community.

Through the eyes of my family, since I don’t get out so much anymore, here’s a couple of good examples.

There’s Cradles & All, 205 W. State St., Geneva. Our daughter, who works there, connected me with owner Kristina Garcia, who has operated this charming retail  store for nine years.

She describes herself as “a retailer by heart” as she declares her long-standing enthusiasm for her store and the array of specialty items for children.

Look for such gifts as hand painted rocking horses, rocking chairs and step stools, which can be personalized. There are toys, clothes in sizes up to 3-4 T and, of course, cradles.

“I know that my customers have many other, sometimes more convenient, options, yet I always acknowledge my heartfelt thanks for making the effort to shop here,” Garcia said.

Through the eyes of Mister Z, known to be tight with his purse strings but always eager to go shopping, there’s paradise at Shirley Stopka’s store, Good Cents Children, which is further west on State Street in Geneva. 

With three grandchildren, all girls, all different sizes and tastes, he never comes home without a bag full of good-sense stuff. He needs to get busy on recycling items back to Shirley. 

Right now he is tied up installing the reindeer antlers on the Zebra Truck.

Finally, on a different note, it is time to bid a fond farewell to Pastor Ronni Veboomm, who will preach her final sermon before retiring from Baker Memorial Methodist Church in St. Charles. She and husband Gilles will move from the parsonage high atop Pottawatomie Park to the top of a ski hill near Portage, Wis.

Of note, the new pastor – a woman – was appointed by the denomination’s regional bishop – also a woman!

• Joan Arteberry is a longtime resident of St. Charles. Her columns are featured in the Kane County Chronicle’s Neighbors section every other Friday. Write to her at

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