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Galena has the sweetest shopkeepers

Last week, my husband and I took a road trip to Galena, Illinois to celebrate our 2nd anniversary. We had spent our first one there, enjoying a wonderful Bed & Breakfast and decided we positively MUST have some of the raspberry wine we enjoyed so much. So we bundle ourselves into the car and set off for the 2.5 hour road trip through the most beautiful rolling countryside. It looked like a Norman Rockwell picture…all rolling hills and farmlands and beautiful land starting to “green up” for the springtime.

My husband and I love to talk to the folks in the stores…this town has tons of little specialty shops…from popcorn to trinkets to t-shirts to chocolates. And many are staffed by the owners who, of course, want their businesses to succeed.

While walking along, commenting on the beautiful sunny day, I saw an adorable pair of red shoes in the window and thought maybe, if I was really lucky, they would have a pair in my size and they would fit. I started talking to the woman about them, then explained about my foot problems (bunions, neuromas, tarsal tunnel, the whole lot and large to boot!) and she said “oh sweetie, I don’t have have them in your size, why don’t you try on this other pair? I don’t think that pair will work well for you because of the bunion. And I know what I’m talking about since I have one too.” I tried on the shoe and it was cute, not quite like the pair I saw and still cute. She spent a great deal of time explaining why this would be a better shoe and that she would be happy to order it in the color I wanted and have it shipped to my home. I wasn’t really that thrilled about the shoe, even tho she was probably right. I decided to look at sandals and she suggested the one she was wearing. Not only did she suggest it, she offered to let me try on the pair she had ordered for herself so I could see if it fit. And it did! Which is a real rarity for me. She ended up selling me her shoes for 25% off! She said it would be easy enough for her to get another pair from the company and that way I didn’t need to pay shipping. The whole time, the 3 of of us (me, her and my husband) were joking and laughing and cutting up and having a great time.

As we continued walking and gawking, we found a place to get my hubby a ball cap…and when we commented on a balm they had there that was supposed to keep bugs off (mosquitos seem to love me…ouch), the woman behind the counter said “oh yes, it really works great. I used it while out picking raspberries and didn’t get a bit. I’m sure you’ll love it!”. Once again, we chatted with this kind woman, sharing moments and jokes and fun.

Then it was off to the popcorn shop. What a hoot! What chaos! What fun! People were crowded in everywhere, looking at and exclaiming over all the different types of popcorn, grabbing for bags, squishing around tight corners. And all the while the owner sounded like the most adorable carnie I’ve ever heard. “In my shop, you can sample anything, all you need do is ask. That’s it, that’s how I run my shop.” And he or one of the youngsters their (his sons) would start passing out samples of one flavor or another or sharing the latest batch out of the kettle. It was a riot, we were both laughing and giggling and the whole store had a carnival atmosphere. Customers were laughing and smiling at each other …total strangers sharing a light moment. It was so wonderful!

Then we stopped by the little chocolate shop we had discovered during our first trip. Now this is a slice of heaven for a chocoholic like my hubby. Now I like chocolate, and especially good chocolate like this and he practically swoons over it! The year before, this beautiful powerful joyful woman had shared how she loved to take trips to various locales to find the best chocolates…you could tell she positively loved what she got to do in this phase of her life! We picked a variety of different truffles and chocolates…lavender, chili, wine flavored. Oh heaven. She would describe each one and then she suddenly handed us one of her favorites as a gift. Wow!!!!!!!!! How kind…how generous…how amazing. She even described one that sounded so good…and she had set it back to take home since it was the last one. When we said it sounded so nummy, she immediately let us buy it instead of her getting to enjoy its yumminess after the shop closed.

What a wonderful trip and a great way to celebrate with each other and with the folks in Galena! (And no, we didn’t get the raspberry wine, darn it, they didn’t have any! And we bought some other super tasting bottles to try!)

Jerilynne “MamaRed” Knight
Chicago, IL USA