The Blog

Just Peachy Photography in Downtown Palatine Captures Lasting Memories

i Aug 29th No Comments by

Founder Erika Williams runs the intimate photography studio, and caters to expectant mothers, newborns, toddlers, and families.

A less-than-satisfactory photo session experienced by Just Peachy Photography founder Erika Williams after her twins were born led her to delve into the world of photography. This experience is also responsible for birth of her business in 2010, which is based in historic downtown Palatine.


Once she made the choice to start her own photography business, Williams dedicated her time to learning the technical side of her craft. She attended dozens of classes and workshops as she continued to perfect her art – photographing expectant mothers, newborns, toddlers, and families.  


“I wanted to ensure that someone’s first portrait photography experience was an amazing one they would remember fondly and want to do again,” Williams says. “I want to create art that families will cherish for years to come.”


As the mother of four boys, 10-year-old twins, a 7-year-old and a 1-year-old, Williams is passionate about capturing the fleeting moments of life at precious, early ages of her subjects. She specializes in newborn and baby custom portraiture, but her offerings also include maternity, children and family sessions. Additionally, she photographs smaller events such as showers, birthday and anniversary parties, corporate events and reunions of up to 100 people.


Her studio is located in downtown Palatine in the old firehouse building at 117 W. Slade Street #2. She describes the space as private and personal, with an intimate feel, which fits the experience she is striving to give to her clients.


The studio is mainly used for newborns and babies under the age of one, but Williams can also photograph children and smaller size families, as well as her maternity clients at the location. Clients can also be photographed outdoors, in their own homes or other locations of their choice.


A special and artistic element added to Williams’ work is the use of unique props and textured materials. She describes her style as organic, natural and classic. Prospective clients are invited to visit the studio prior to booking an appointment to see the space and determine what options are available to them.


Just Peachy Photography offers both petite and full sessions, while also hosting themed ‘mini session’ events throughout the year. Mini sessions are shorter than regular sessions, and are available by appointment only. This niche service allows for perspective clients to ‘try out’ Williams’ services before signing up for regular sessions. According to Williams, they are also a great option for clients who want to update family pictures throughout the year. Williams hosts two family mini sessions during the year – one in the summer and one in the fall. A free mini session will also be held each July to celebrate the studio’s anniversary at their current location.


Free Halloween mini sessions are also held to benefit the Palatine Township Food Pantry, where participants can bring five canned or boxed items in exchange for a portrait session at no cost. This year, this mini session will be held on Sunday, October 22, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.


Appointments are in five-minute increments. In order to receive a free mini session, registration is required and spots are open until they are filled; a portrait agreement must be completed out as well. Information can be found on the studio’s Facebook page: search: Just Peachy Photography, and on the website, listed under the ‘Information’ tab by clicking ‘Special Events’. Those who are signed up for the newsletter will receive information about the mini session as well as a list of needed items for the Food Pantry. Individuals can sign up for the newsletter on the website as well.


In June of 2017, Just Peachy Photography was recognized by Expertise Website as one of the top 17 maternity photographers in the Chicago, area out of 622 photographers. Maternity photographers were critiqued on more than 25 variables in five different categories, including reputation, credibility, experience, availability and professionalism, as a way to help connect people with the best local expert photographers available.  


For more information about Just Peachy Photography, to schedule a booking or to view Williams’ work, visit, email, or call 224-801-1680.

Adrenaline Sports Management: Healthy Fun at Themed 5K’s, Half Marathons Locally and Across the County

i Jun 18th No Comments by

Upcoming local events include the Uncle Sam 5K during Palatine’s Hometown Fest, Stan’s Donut 5K at Montrose Harbor, the Halloween Hustle in downtown Palatine and the Chicago Santa Hustle.

Since 2004, Adrenaline Sports Management (ASM), based in downtown Palatine, has grown into a highly reputable race industry contender. By the end of 2017, ASM will have produced 14 races that are owned by the company, and managed eight others. ASM races are held in Palatine, Chicago, and across the country.

The racing industry is a competitive one, according to ASM founder Aaron Del Mar, who says that fact is one of the reasons his company ultimately found success.

“If you’re going to survive in this industry, you need to distinguish yourself,” Del Mar said. “We’ve created a niche market that takes a healthy activity and [also] turns it into a unique, social experience that all ages can enjoy and participate in.”

So, what makes ASM’s events, unique, ‘niche’ events?
All of the 5K’s and half marathons created and produced by ASM have a special theme – and each of them has a charitable cause that they benefit. Below is a list of the upcoming local events in the Chicagoland area.

  • The first-ever Uncle Sam 5K and Little Patriot’s Dash will be held on July 2, 2017 during the popular 5-day Palatine Hometown Fest celebration. The course starts and ends at Tap House Grill, and will circle around the historic downtown Palatine neighborhoods. Participants receive an Uncle Sam shirt and hat – and red, white and blue will be everywhere to honor Independence Day! Learn more here: The charity beneficiary is Fathers Helping Fathers, a national nonprofit that provide support and education to fathers to be the best parent they can be for their children. http://fathershelpingfathers.c…
  • Stan’s Donut 5K and Kid’s Dash is happening on the paths of Chicago’s Montrose Harbor on Saturday August 12, 2017. Did you say DONUTS?? Iconic Stan’s Donuts will be providing their boutique donuts to participants before, during and after the race! This way, those who indulge can feel like they worked the donuts off (before or after the event)! Participants receive a Donut Dash dri-fit shirt, a finisher’s medal (shaped like a donut) and a Stan’s Donut at the finish line. Learn more here: The charity beneficiary is the Greater Chicago Food Depository who partners with food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and resources for children, older adults and veterans. This network distributes food where it is needed most throughout Cook County. https://www.chicagosfoodbank.o…
  • The 12th annual Halloween Hustle Run/Walk and Little Monster Dash and has expanded from its Palatine roots! This race was the first for ASM back in 2005, and has since grown to include thousands of individuals who wear their Halloween costumes as they participate in the 5K and Little Monsters’ Dash, this year on Saturday, October 28, 2016. Have some ghoulish fun just before Halloween! Participants receive a long-sleeve Halloween Hustle dri-fit shirt, and a finisher’s medal. Kids Dash participants receive a youth t-shirt, a trick-or-treat bag, a race bib and a pumpkin at the finish line. Learn more here: The race started in Palatine and has now expanded to events in Madison, Wisconsin and Sandusky/Cedar Point, Ohio. The tentative charity beneficiary will be the Bridge Youth and Family Services, which provides crisis intervention, mentoring, individual counseling and group therapy that benefit children who have experience a range of traumas.
  • The Santa Hustle Race Series: the first ever Santa Hustle 5K started and ended at Chicago’s iconic Soldier Field in 2008, which had 1,200 runners, and the 2016 race grew to nearly 8,000. The race series includes 5K’s and half marathons (depending on the location) produced in U.S. that include Sevierville, TN, Indianapolis, IN, Sandusky, OH, Milwaukee, WI, Galveston, TX, South Portland, ME, and Glendale, AZ in addition to a Virtual Race for those who are unable to physically participate. What sets the Santa Hustle races apart are the many amenities and special touches, including holiday music, and cookie and candy stations throughout the course, live reindeers and [volunteer] elves. Each participant receives a Santa hat and beard, along with a Santa Hustle shirt and new this year, holiday-themed stockings. Learn more here: The Chicago Santa Hustle charity beneficiary is the American Cancer Society, which saves lives and creates a world with less cancer and more birthdays by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back.

For a listing of all the ASM events this year, in addition to volunteer, charity beneficiary and sponsorship opportunities, please visit http://www.adrenalinesportsman… or call 847-829-4536.

Kramer Photography: Standing the Test of Time in Downtown Palatine

i May 15th No Comments by

Kramer Photographers have been creating photographic keepsakes for area residents for nearly 40 years in downtown Palatine. Founder, Bob Kramer has been fortunate to translate his passion for photography into a thriving business that has truly stood the test of time.

The Formative Years

As a high school student in the late 1960’s, Kramer was drawn to photography far before founding his business in Palatine in 1979. He started snapping pictures (free of charge) for the Loyola University Ramblers basketball team, cross country and swim teams, simply because he enjoyed it. His father worked at the university as an accountant.

Kramer went on to attend Loyola, where he had his first paid job at the ‘Hall of Fame Dinner’. He busily worked the room to ensure he got all the best shots for the yearbook, and when he presented the bill for his services, the athletic director’s response was, “We can’t pay these prices!”

Instead, the athletic director insisted that the college triple the bill compared to what the invoice said, because he was so happy with the final product. Kramer then realized it might be possible to make a living with photography, at least some day.

Though he had realized his passion, there were no photography courses available at the university. He found a film study class, and though it was full, he persuaded the instructor to ‘squeeze’ him in.

“He put me to the test; I actually ended up teaching portions of the class throughout the semester,” Kramer said. “When you’re passionate about something, things just seem to come easier.”

A First and Second Career

Though his desire was always to make photography a career, by the time he graduated from college, Kramer was married with a young son, with another child on the way. He received a degree in accounting just like his father, but after his first job as an accountant, he realized the career just wasn’t for him.

He was then hired by the Chicago Fire Department through a federal grant as the assistant director for public relations. He was living in Chicago, but moved to Palatine when one of his sons was diagnosed with encephalitis and needed special education classes. He said Palatine was then known for strong schools, and exceptional special education programs.

Kramer never forgot his passion, though, and photographed weddings on weekends all the while working his 9-5 job. When the federal grant ran out, residency requirements (to live in the city of Chicago) were instated. Kramer chose to remain in Palatine due to his son’s special needs.

It was at this time that he hit the proverbial ‘fork in the road’ in regard to his career. The year was 1979.

Kramer started working out of his house, and then in 1980, he rented a space at 160 N. Northwest Highway (currently Casey’s Automotive) until five years later, he bought a building at 17 E. Palatine Road, at the intersection near Plum Grove Road.

Business began to boom, and after several years and hiring a dozen or so employees, Kramer Photographers outgrew the space and moved to its present location in 1993, which is the former Hanson’s True Value, at 101 W. Palatine Road. The more than 10,000 square foot space is at the southwest corner of Palatine Road and Brockway Street in downtown Palatine.

Over the years, Kramer was also chosen to teach at the prestigious School of Professional Photography, more than any photographer in the country.

A Familiar Name from the Past

Apparently, there was more than one ‘Kramer’ photographer in Palatine over the last 150 years. In early 2000, a customer brought in an old photo for retouching and copies, and in the corner of the photograph it said ‘Kramer from Palatine, Illinois’.

The original photograph was obtained by [Bob] Kramer, which was from the late 1880’s, and was indeed, from another professional photographer by the name of Kramer who operated in Palatine more than a century ago. The Professional Photographers of America had this man with the last name of Kramer down as a member of the organization since 1907, while Bob Kramer has been a member since 1970. A somewhat strange, but interesting coincidence.

Reflecting Over the Years

Kramer comments that technology has changed the photography industry dramatically. The majority of his early jobs consisted of weddings – with more than 6,000 shot during the life of the business. Now, the business is primarily focused on children, family, and individual portraits, in addition to weddings and small commercial photography jobs.

What makes the service so specialized, is the extensive use of lighting, the variety of posing and an ample supply of props from the late 1800’s to today which help to set the stage and the ‘feeling’ of the portraits, Kramer said.

He added that creating a relationship with the people they are photographing, in part through a pre-portrait consultation, helps his team to truly understand what their clients are looking for in the end result.

“We help them design a special portrait that is unique to their specific needs,” Kramer said.

Kramer Photographers handles photo processing and printing in-house, so they are able to ensure there are no unwanted copies made, as well as controlling the quality they provide. Clients can order photo sizes anywhere from a wallet, to 2.5 x 3.5 to a 40 x 60 print. A wide variety of frames are also featured in the large showroom.

“Many times, the pictures we take are of a milestone time or event for a family; when babies are born, weddings, anniversaries, loved ones who are getting older or are sick,” Kramer said. “We provide a fun and upbeat experience, and an opportunity to capture a moment in time for families to cherish for generations.”

Kramer Photographers has locations in downtown Palatine, Naperville and St. Charles. For more information, visit the business website at or call 847-934-8860.

Downtown Palatine’s Girls on the Town is Coming Up on Friday, April 21st!

i Mar 29th No Comments by

 The Downtown Palatine Business Association (DPBA) will present the annual ’Girls on the Town’ event on Friday, April 21, 2017 from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m in downtown Palatine.

This popular and growing event had nearly 500 attendees in 2016, and will feature 23 of the DPBA member businesses in downtown Palatine. Each will open their doors for this Friday night full of fun and feature product and service demonstrations, special offers and giveaways and exciting raffles, in addition to offering complimentary food and beverages and wine tastings.

The goal of Girls on the Town event is to provide an opportunity for the DPBA members to join forces and cast a spotlight on the products and services offered by the organization as a whole, which has a total of 24 business and organization members.

Event attendees can purchase a Passport to attend Girls on the Town for $5 on the night of the event, or at any of the participating businesses, beginning April 1, 2017. Participating DPBA members include and their locations  are listed below:

For more information about the DPBA, please visit

About the Downtown Palatine Business Organization (DPBA): The Downtown Palatine Business Association (DPBA) is made up of 26 businesses and organizations located in the downtown Palatine area. The goal of the organization is to provide a number of opportunities for member businesses and organizations to join forces as they highlight the products and/or services each provide while engaging the local and area communities through yearly events.

The DPBA hosts/presents four community events per year: Girls on the Town on the third Friday in April, Sidewalk Sales at the end of May, the Sweet Pea Pet Parade during Palatine Street Fest and Holidays on the Town on the Friday before Thanksgiving.

The downtown Palatine business area is bordered on the north by Colfax Street, on the west by Smith Street, on the south by Palatine Road and the east by Plum Grove Road. Associate members can also be members of the organization if they are located within the boundaries of Colfax Street, Northwest Highway, Palatine Road and Smith Street in Palatine.

DPBA Members Include: Salon MMM, Snap Fitness, Harrington Manor and Harrington Manor II, Anne’s Unique Boutique, Garfield’s Beverage Warehouse, Foxglove Cottage, Monson Jewelers, The Music Room, Just Peachy Photography, Sweet C’s Bakery, CC Additudes, JL’s Pizza and Sports Bar, Arete Salon and Spa, Cook, Cork and Fork, Palatine Bank and Trust, American Legion Post 690, d’Vine Wine and Gift, Adrenaline Sports Management, Kramer Photography, Durty Nellie’s, Palatine Area Chamber of Commerce, Tap House Grill, Palatine Park District, Palatine Historical Society, and Vicarious Productions.

For more information, visit

New Year, New Resolutions to Get Back into Shape After the Holidays

i Jan 4th No Comments by

The new owner at Snap Fitness in Palatine offers some success goals and guidance to help area residents start 2017 off healthy. 

Now that the holidays are behind us, area residents may be looking to turn over a new leaf and get back into shape after indulging in the excesses of the holiday season.

Dave Czajkowski is the new owner of the downtown Palatine Snap Fitness location at 19 W. Wilson Street, and is ready to provide the resources needed to help individuals reach their fitness goals for the new year.

“For more than a decade, I worked my way up in the fitness industry from entry level to management before purchasing this location in March of 2016,” Czajkowski said. “I also have a background in personal training and management, and am here to help anyone who needs guidance.”

Among his suggestions are a handful of attainable goals that can help start area residents off on the right foot, on the road to fitness success:

  • Be consistent with workouts; 2-3 times per week is all you need to get started.
  • Train smart-combine cardio with strength training.
  • Consider working with a personal trainer to help with accountability.
  • Eat healthier; add fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet, and avoid junk food or soda.
  • Supplement with protein.
  • Get 8 hours of sleep per day, to maximize your results.

This fall, Snap Fitness underwent a complete rehab, which included new paint throughout, murals and new furniture that created a comfortable, yet professional atmosphere.

The location has cardio equipment including elliptical machines, treadmills and stationary bikes, along with Cybex strength machines and a full line of free weights.

Snap Fitness offers a unique opportunity for people who work in the greater downtown Palatine area to get their workouts in before work, or even during a lunch hour, because the business never closes.

The added convenience, he says, is that gym memberships can be used at any of the more than 2,000 locations throughout the state, and across the country, if people are travelling. 

“Individuals are very busy these days and are looking for convenience; being open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year opens up the opportunity for people to get a workout at a time that fits in with personal and professional schedules and obligations.”

A new initiative started by Czajkowski is to encourage business owners to provide the gift of health and fitness to reduce sick time, and increase employee productivity.

“Study after study shows employees are more productive and take less time off of work due to illness, when they exercise on a weekly basis,” Czajkowski said.

Experiencing this outcome through his own management background, Czajkowski created Corporate Memberships, so that employers have options to give short, or longer term memberships to employees at a group rate.  

“This type of gift can be used to reward an employee of the month or show appreciation for a job well done, which also serves to enhance employee performance because they feel acknowledged for their work,” Czajkowski said.

Personal training services will start at the gym in the first quarter of 2017.

To schedule a tour of the Snap Fitness in downtown Palatine, call 847-852-4425 or visit the website at

Anne’s Unique Boutique Celebrates 40 Years in Downtown Palatine

i Dec 4th No Comments by

With its roots on the North Shore, the business has grown into a highly reputable consignment boutique.

Since 1976, Anne’s Unique Boutique in downtown Palatine has grown into one of the leading consignment stores in the Chicagoland area and across the country, with more than 10,000 consigners and thousands of satisfied customers.

The year 2016 marked the business’ 40th anniversary.

Anne’s Unique Boutique was founded by Anne De Koning, an immigrant from the Netherlands who was living in Glencoe, Illinois in the early 1970’s. She sold Avon at the time and noticed that both her neighbors and Avon customers – many of which were North Shore socialites – had beautiful clothing they would wear just once or twice before giving them away. Many times, items in their closets were brand new with the tags still on them.

De Koning got to thinking about how she could find a use for their designer dresses, handbags, shoes and more while providing a benefit to her friends and contacts. She came up with the idea to create a consignment boutique, and began the search for a location. Anne’s Unique Boutique opened in 1976 at its first location on Palatine Road and Bothwell Street in downtown Palatine.

She would travel to her contacts throughout the North Shore to collect their designer clothing and accessories and bring them back to Palatine to sell on consignment. Over the next three years, De Koning’s friends and family volunteered their time to help grow the business, while her list of consigners and customers continued to expand.

The business outgrew its location in 1979 and moved across the street to the south side of Palatine Road at its present address, 16 S. Bothwell Street.

Over the next decade, the clientele grew to not only include local residents, but also shoppers from out of state. Word spread about the quality of the merchandise available at affordable prices; to be accepted for consignment, everything had to be in excellent condition, wrinkle free, dry cleaned and on hangers. All items were required to be between one and two years old, in-style, and in-season.

In the early 1990’s, Anne’s daughter-in-law, Tina De Koning began working behind the scenes, handling accounting and bookkeeping while raising her three young sons. All the while, Anne’s Unique Boutique continued to flourish, and its solid reputation grew as well.

Then, in 1999, Anne was diagnosed with cancer and sadly succumbed to the disease in March of 2000.

Tina, along with her husband, decided it was important to keep Anne’s Unique Boutique open. She had developed strong relationships and a mutual trust with the clientele, and knew the importance of providing customers with personal attention – even remembering most of the customers and clients by their first name.

“My mother-in-law always said the best form of advertising is word of mouth,” Tina said.

She worked over the next several years to maintain the respected reputation the business had earned while continuing to build relationships with existing and new customers and consigners.

In 2008, Anne’s Unique Boutique was chosen by HGTV’s ‘Shopping Detective’ to do a segment on how to shop consignment stores. Tina said after it aired, she received calls from across the country from people who wanted to buy items that were highlighted on the show. 

Over the next few years, the business doubled in size to accommodate growing inventory, which included overflow stock from North Shore boutiques and designer clothing line samples.  Shoppers and consigners continued to enjoy a high level, boutique style atmosphere.

Anne’s Unique Boutique was voted the Daily Herald’s Reader’s Choice in 2015 for consignment shops and has dozens of positive online reviews.

“Customers and clients come from all over the Midwest to shop and consign, and many even mention their childhood memories of shopping here with their mothers,” Tina said.

Today, the business carries a vast selection of designer items including Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Christian Louboutin, Chanel, St. John, Gucci, Prada and many others.

Selections include ladies, men’s and children’s clothing and accessories, belts, costume and fine jewelry, home accessories, collectibles and china.

A handful of luxury items are also sold on Ebay, and specials run on a weekly basis. Brand new items are featured on the Anne’s Unique Boutique Facebook page also on a weekly basis, which can be found here: For more information, call 847-991-1976 or visit    

How consignment works at Anne’s Unique Boutique: Owner Tina De Koning determines the price of the consignment item based on her expertise and many years of experience. Items can be on display at Anne’s Unique Boutique for 90 days.

The Community is Welcome: The Palatine American Legion is Changing with the Times

i Aug 6th No Comments by

R-Post 690

Located at 122 W. Palatine Road, the Post 690 offers a number of events, activities and opportunities for the community at-large.

American Legion Posts are known by most as a Veterans organization, but the Palatine American Legion Post 690 is taking a fresh new approach in how it engages with the greater Palatine community.

The Post would like to invite community members to take part in the many events and activities they coordinate and host throughout the year.

In addition to organizing the Memorial Day Parade, the American Legion Post 690 serves lunch on Tuesdays from just $4 and has a full service bar with a pool table. Bingo is held every third Saturday beginning at 7:00 p.m. and upcoming Casino Nights will be hosted on September 9, October 8 and November 18, 2016 (for individuals 18 years of age and older). The Post is open 365 days a year to the public.

Pancake breakfasts are many times coordinated with downtown Palatine events, along with visits from Santa Claus during Christmastime, an Easter Egg Hunt and a Fish Fry every Friday evening during Lent.

All of these events and activities are open to the greater Palatine community, in addition to the Veterans who are members of the organization.

“We don’t want to lose who we are, but we also realize that we would like to be inclusive and invite the community to enjoy our facility and other offerings,” said Daphne Matthews, who is a 27-year veteran who retired as a Captain in the U.S. Navy. Matthews was recently named the American Legion Post 690 Post Commander.

The Palatine American Legion Post 690 is completely self-sustaining. By opening its location and events to the community at-large, it helps them to keep their doors open. Matthews said that many Posts are forced to shut down because they simply cannot afford to continue operating.

The Post remodeled a banquet room which is available to rent for gatherings from 10-85 guests and includes 5 HD televisions, A/V service and free Wi-Fi. For more information, email or call 847-359-1606.

The Post also engages with young people in the Palatine community.

Awards are given yearly to children who write winning essays about patriotism. A certificate and a ‘challenge coin’ – which signifies going above and beyond – is given to one girl and one boy each year who enter the competition.

Scholarships are also awarded on a yearly basis to young people who are planning to attend college. One such young person is Bridget Babcock, a Fremd High School graduate, who attended the University of Illinois and joined the Air Force ROTC. She credits the American Legion Post 690 with helping her find her direction in life.

“I have had experiences I never could have imagined, and it all started because of the Legion. They were the first to back me up in support, scholarship and mentorship – I am happy to call the Post 690 home, and part of my family,” Babcock said.

Matthews said she and the Post are incredibly proud of Babcock’s achievements, as well as those of other young people who also have received scholarships.

In addition to providing many opportunities for the public to enjoy the facility and other activities, the Post has always provided an array of support services and resources for Veterans of all wars. One of the many ways this is accomplished is by hosting U.S. Sailors each year for Thanksgiving dinner at the Post.

If the Color Guard is needed for ceremonies of any kind, including a Veteran’s funeral, the Post will provide it. They also help to process VA claims and raise funds for a plethora of Veterans programs.

In the end, Matthews wants community members to know that by taking advantage of the Legion’s offerings, they are supporting Veterans. She added that the Legion is meant to be a place for camaraderie and friendship for Veterans, and for the entire community.

“It’s very special to put on the cloth of your country and to serve; it’s prideful to put on that uniform and the Post is a place of belonging for those who appreciate that,” Matthews said.

The American Legion Post 690 is a member of the Downtown Palatine Business Association (DPBA). This organization is made up of core and associate members, whose goal is to join forces to assist with the growth and development of all members businesses. To learn more about the DPBA and yearly events, please visit

Monson Jewelers: Downtown Palatine’s Hometown Jeweler Since 2001

i Jun 7th No Comments by

The business is located in the heart of downtown Palatine at Brockway and Slade streets, and prides itself on nearly 35 years of experience in the industry with a strong customer focus.


Left to right: Brenda Schwantz, Helen Fichte, Carolyn Monson, Bruce Fichte and Tim Monson.

Monson Jewelers owner Tim Monson has nearly 35 years of experience working in the jewelry industry, and said his keys to success include building strong, and long-term relationships with his customers. He added that the business has grown due to word-of-mouth referrals, and credits the high level of customer service he and his staff have provided over the years as the reason why.

“People like to know the owner and the people that work at a business, especially when you’re dealing with something as personal as jewelry. Myself, Brenda and Bruce have been here since day one; there is a trust and comfort level in knowing us, and that we have a casual, but very helpful atmosphere here.”

Monson said the business has now been able to serve the next generation of customers, where sons and daughters of people who patronized the business when it opened, are now grown up and starting families of their own.

Though the majority of customers are from Palatine, Arlington Heights and the immediate surrounding areas, there are also many customers who live across the country.

“We have customers from out of town that will travel here to us – they’ve either moved away or were referred to us by friends of theirs who have been customers for years,” Monson said. “Trust is a big factor, and people want to get the best price and the best product to go along with that price.”

The strong connections in the community built over the years are something that Monson also finds great pride in. He says his employees treat the business as if it were their own, and that type of commitment has been a defining factor for their success.

“If we don’t have something, we invite you to just ask and we can probably get it in as quick as a day,” said Brenda Schwantz, who started working with Monson the day the business opened on November 16, 2001. “We will go out of our way to make things happen.”

Among the services and products provided at Monson Jewelers are jewelry and watch repairs, in addition to engagement, wedding, anniversary, cocktail and even custom rings. The business also provides a service where old jewelry can be redesigned into new pieces.

“The industry has moved toward a lot more custom jewelry and re-design, which we handle in an off-site location,” Monson said.

Other items include bracelets and necklaces, baby jewelry, watches, giftware, crystal and jewelry boxes.

Additionally, educating customers is a strong focus. Monson said he will explain the different types of diamonds there are, or answer any other questions that customer may have.

The business has a wide array of options for someone looking to spend between $50 and $50,000. A number of different designers and vendors are featured, all of which can be found on the business’ website.

“We are very consultative with our customers, and are all about helping them make the perfect choice,” Monson said.

For more information, visit

Sweet C’s: A Boutique Bakery in Downtown Palatine Celebrating 1st Year in Business

i Feb 15th No Comments by


Owner Celia Kallenborn comes from a family of local entrepreneurs, and stepped out on her own by opening the cake, cookie and cupcake bakery on Bothwell Street in February of 2015.

On February 21, 2016, Celia Kallenborn, the owner of Sweet C’s Bakery in downtown Palatine will be celebrating her first year in business. The boutique bakery is located in the heart of downtown Palatine at 10 N. Bothwell Street.

Kallenborn is no stranger to knowing what it takes to grow a successful business; her father is the owner of Mexico Uno, a Mexican restaurant that has been open since 1989, and is located around the corner from the bakery on Brockway Street just north of Palatine Road.   

An uncle and her parents originally opened Mexico Restaurant in Des Plaines prior to 1989, when her parents decided to open their own location in Palatine. Now, Kallenborn’s sister runs the Des Plaines business and her other siblings work at  Mexico Uno.

Since her early years, Kallenborn bussed and waited tables for her family business, and learned the value of creating relationships that develop into loyalty from customers.

“My father’s advice to me since day one was to provide a quality product and be good to my customers; it’s simple, but something I have strived to to since I opened Sweet C’s,” Kallenborn said. “The goal, always, is to ensure my customers leave happy.”

Kallenborn said she makes a point of personally speaking with every customer about their order, whether it be a specialty cake, cupcakes or cookies. And it appears her focus on solid customer service is building the Sweet C’s brand as the business continues to grow and thrive.

“What I think is special about what we do, is that we are a part of milestone events in the lives of our customers,” Kallenborn said. “A child’s first birthday, a wedding or a baby shower, and bar and bat mitzvahs are all times to be remembered, and we are honored to be a part of those days.”

‘Baby reveal cakes’ are what Kallenborn calls a new and popular unveiling for parents- to-be, where the sex of a baby is announced through the color and design of the cake at a baby shower.

“Basically myself, the doctor and the parents are the only ones who know if the baby will be a boy or girl,” Kallenborn said. “It’s a real privilege.”

Smash cakes are also a specialty for young children’s’ birthday parties, as well as re-creating wedding cake toppers for couples who didn’t save them from their wedding, or would like to renew their vows.

Other events include corporate parties, going away parties and any other type of celebration. Sweet C’s also offers catering packages.

In addition to original designs, pictures can be printed on edible paper and transposed onto to cookies and cakes. Cupcakes have become more popular for event desserts because they offer a way for customers to provide a variety of flavors for their guests to enjoy.

“We’re not trying to be the jack of all trades, I’m working to be the best at what we are good at.”

To celebrate Sweet C’s first anniversary on Sunday, February 21, one free cupcake  per person will be given out between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Visit for more information.

Special Events from Palatine Park District

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Visit or call 847.991.0333 for more information. 

Indoor Drive-In Movie featuring “Minions” Friday, March 4, 6:00-9:00pm at Birchwood Recreation Center, 435 W. Illinois Ave., Palatine. Enjoy a movie from the comfort of a car you decorate yourself! Bring your own large box and we’ll provide all the materials to turn it into a car. Car decorating starts at 6:00, the film will be shown at 7:00. Concessions will be available for purchase. Pre-register at using code 126060-01. $5 per child (ages 1+), $1 per adult.

Hound Egg Hunt Saturday, March 26, 10:00am at Towne Square, 150 W. Palatine Road, Palatine. You and your favorite four-legged friend are invited to the best dog egg hunt in town! The event includes goody bags, free raffle entry, souvenir photo with the bunny, two egg hunts (large dogs and small dogs), and a great vendor fair. Pre-register for just $6 per dog at using code 140100-01.

Family Friendly Theatre presents Little Red and the Hoods Monday, March 28, 10:30-11:30am (a day off school for District 15!) at Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center, 150 E. Wood Street, Palatine. Our Family Friendly Theatre productions offer the perfect opportunity to introduce children to a live theater experience. This delightful tale of Little Red Riding Hood is told with modern lessons for today’s children. Tickets are just $6 per person and are available through the box office at 847-202-5222 or (online ordering fees apply).

Spring Catalog Available Soon! Watch for your Spring Catalog, full of hundreds of programs, events, and services offered by Palatine Park District. Catalogs will be mailed to residents and available for viewing on February 24. Resident registration begins February 29, and non-resident registration begins March 22.