The Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary

A few weeks ago when my mother-in-law was in Chicago for a visit, we decided to run a few errands (during the few moments that we weren't eating). We had to stop by Walgreens and Macy's. Simple enough, right? Simple except that this is the Chicago Loop. The Walgreens and Macy's stores we visited are anything but simple.

Macy's Chicago

The Macy's we popped into is on State Street. It's a flagship store housed in the old Marshal Fields building. This 12 story granite beauty is a National historic landmark. Built around the turn of the century, my local Macy's is one of the largest in the world encompassing an entire city block. Quite simply, it is breathtaking. Filled to the brim with columns topped by ornate cornices, there are moments during one's visit that the structure is more engaging than Macy's product. (Sorry, Macy's buyers and merchandisers.)

Macy's Ceiling - Chicago Flagship Store
Let's face it, until I visited this one, I had never been to Macy's with a Tiffany ceiling.

Macy's Magical Windows - On State St.

Macy's Extraordinary Windows

And the windows? I promise they aren't only spectacular during the holiday season. To kick off spring, there is plenty of window art to marvel over. I anticipate more of the same throughout the year.

Walgreens Flagship store in Chicago on State
The biggest surprise of the day's errands came at Walgreens, however. Yes, I said Walgreens. Right across Randolph from that spectacular Macy's store is the drugstore chain's newest gem. First let me say, there is a Walgreens on nearly every corner of Chicago. They're all right next to a Starbucks and a Bank of America. Walgreens was founded here and its headquarters is out in the 'burbs so there is no shortage of store fronts around town. But let me tell you, the flagship store at State and Randolph is no ordinary drugstore. Having just had its grand opening in January, this 27,000 + square foot phenomenon is unlike any Walgreens that I've ever visited.

Walgreens on State St. - Chicago

When you walk through its front doors your are greeted by a sushi chef. Yes. I said Sushi. It has a liquor department that is quite literally larger than our apartment and houses a bottle of cognac retailing at $2000. There is even a full service salon and the enticing Look Boutique upstairs. (I may have bought a purse there. Yes, at Walgreens.) But what impressed me were the details: the illuminated shelves, the marble floors, the computer displays that allow a shopper to virtually sample any make-up/beauty item they choose. There is a buzz that isn't typical of a Walgreens' shopping experience.

That's what I'm learning about Chicago. There is a buzz about this whole city that isn't typical. Here a simple trip to the drugstore for some tissues can be a memorable experience. Here the ordinary is made extraordinary.

And I'm completely smitten.