Explore Chicago’s Buy Local Guide: Quirky & Kid-Friendly Shops

Shop for inexpensive toys and novelty items at Lakeview's Uncle FunStart checking off your holiday shopping list! Explore Chicago encourages you to support local businesses during this 2011 holiday season as part of  a city-wide “Buy Local” campaign. From classic board games to build-your-own-robot kits to whimsical knick knacks, visit the following locally-owned quirky and kid-friendly Chicago retailers.

American Science & Surplus: A quirky science and army surplus shop, American Science & Surplus has it all. From Russian-made microscopes to 1950s Geiger counters, it also stocks loads of educational science kits, games and toys for the kids. (5316 N. Milwaukee Ave, Jefferson Park)

Uncle Fun: “A unique purveyor of fine goods and accessories designed to restore the whimsical nature with which you arrived on this planet,” Uncle Fun is a one-of-a-kind toy store that has been around for over two decades featuring one of the widest selections of vintage finds, knick knacks and hilarious oddities. (1338 W. Belmont Ave, Lakeview)

Dulcelandia: Dulcelandia is the perfect place to get a taste of the sweeter side of Mexico. This bright, pinata-covered store with candy-covered walls sells a huge variety of Mexican candy (and a few American favorites) and over 800 types of party favors. (3300 W. 26th St, Little Village)

Rotofugi: One of the world’s premier sellers of designer toys, this shop features a diverse selection of vinyl figures, capsule toys, plush creatures, and more from Eastern and Western designers. (2780 N. Lincoln Ave, Lincoln Park)

Monster Island Toys: Find Godzilla-like merchandise at Chicago’s top Japanese specialty toystore featuring imported Japanese-made action figures and dragon paraphernalia. (3335 S. Halsted St, Bridgeport)

Toys et Cetera: Open the doors and enter a world of hands-on creative play, where you can find an enormous collection of children’s gifts. An “independent educational toy store,” they have imported and hard to find toys for every age group ranging from birth through 10 years old. With friendly staff members who are good with both kids and parents, Toys et Cetera is a store filled with fun for the whole family. (5311 N. Clark St, Andersonville)

Quimby’s: This unique bookstore features unusual and underground material such as self-published, small and independent press books, magazines, zines, body art, and underground comics. (1854 W. North Ave, Wicker Park/West Town)

Robot City Workshop: A store specializing in everything robot related, this shop sells a variety of robot building kits, electronic components and hardware. In addition to providing everything you need to build your own robot, Robot City Workshop provides educational workshops, after-school programs, camps, and parties right inside the store. (3236 N. Sheffield Ave, Wrigleyville)

Cat and Mouse Game Store: Cat and Mouse has over 600 non-electronic games in stock, including classic board games, brainteasers, card games and puzzles for children and adults alike. (2212 W. Armitage Ave, Bucktown)

Galactic Force Toys and Games: This eclectic space is dedicated to providing a fun environment for gamers. Before you shop, get some game play in on Xbox or Wii for $5 per hour, then browse through a broad range of core products from various games. (1121 W. Belmont Ave, Wrigleyville)

Gigi’s Dolls and Sherry’s Teddy Bears: A labyrinth of dolls and doll accessories from all eras and countries, this museum-like space is geared toward doll collectors and is also home to the “Doll Museum,” a large vitrine showcasing the dolls too valuable to sell. There’s more than enough here for lovers of dolls and stuffed animals alike. (6029 N. Northwest Hwy, Norwood Park)

For more information about Local First Chicago‘s UnWrap Chicago: Eat, Drink & Buy Local 2011 campaign, visit www.unwrapchicago.org.

For more information on shopping and dining in Chicago’s neighborhoods, visit www.explorechicago.org/neighborhoods.