Shop Hop
By Matt Helm
POPLAR GROVE ─ Shoppers in the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin area participated in the third annual Vintage Shop Hop on Friday and Saturday, March 4 and 5.
“The idea was simply to give the shopper a reason to call their friends and spend the day shopping for vintage decor in their own backyard,” event organizer Ann Campos said. “I wanted to make it easy for them to hop from shop to shop while supporting small business at the same time.”
This year the Shop Hop featured over 380 shops stretching anywhere from Chicago to the Green Bay area.
“This is the biggest year for the Shop Hop yet as well as being our first year participating,” Trudy Konopka, Events and Volunteer Coordinator at the Poplar Grove Vintage Wings and Wheels Museum, said.
The Vintage Wheels and Wings museum has a gift shop that doubles as an antique store named The Vintage Wanderer: An Inspired Boutique.
“It’s for people who are interested in vintage and antique wares,” volunteer Cindy Starzyk said. “We want to reach out to the community in interesting and different ways so that people in surrounding towns are more aware of the museum and what we have to offer.”
Those who participated in the Shop Hop received a punch card they could use to win door prizes and other gifts.
“Shoppers are encouraged to drive from place to place with their punch card,” Starzyk said. “If they went to 15 different shops over the weekend they could win prizes. Here we are giving out gift cards and vintage maps, thermals and cook book.”
The Vintage Wheels and Wings museum changed their gift shop into a vintage store recently.
“We change what we sell in the gift shop in the same way we like to change the different exhibits to keep people interested in coming in to visit us,” Starzyk said. “I like to buy our vintage jewelry and books. It’s nostalgic to see stuff that I used to read and look at when I was a kid. We still sell modern shirts and other items, but the antiques draw in another crowd especially when it comes to the Shop Hop.”
The Vintage Wanderer sells vintage furniture and decorations of all kinds, as well as hand-made soaps.
“The Shop Hop has been a great help to us as far as getting the word out to people who have never heard of us before,” volunteer Lisa Cayo said. “I helped set up the shop. We sell a lot of lotions and soap bars, but people like to buy frames and other items that they can start their own DIY projects with. We’ve been selling like crazy this weekend.”
Social media played a huge role in the growth of the Shop Hop. Since the first year the Facebook page has grown to over 11,000 followers.
“There was a lot of advertising on Facebook and we would definitely do this event again,” Starzyk said. “There was also an interactive Google Map that helped people plan their shopping trip.”
Shoppers enjoyed the selection at the Vintage Wanderer, as well as complimentary treats and coffee.
“The Shop Hop was a fun experience,” customer Joanne said. “It was nice to be able to see the new shops I didn’t even know existed in some parts of Belvidere. These stores have a lot of creative items for sale.”
The Vintage Wheels and Wings museum is hosting a “M*A*S*H” themed murder mystery dinner in April performed by volunteers in April. Those interested should contact the museum at (815) 547-3115 or visit their website at

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