When you get to the checkout line on your next run to the grocery store, hold off on perusing all that celeb gossip. Reach first for this glossy mag on home décor.

The fall issue of Better Homes and Gardens’ Decorating has been out a little over a week. You need to pick up on all the familiar turf it covers before your friends across the country do. There are bragging rights, after all, in being the first to announce shopping finds.

“Oak Park and Forest Park ‘burbs have style-watchers buzzing” reads an index-page intro to a four-page spread on “Chicago’s suburban hot spots.”

A tour of destinations beyond Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile takes readers from across the country to boutiques and restaurants in the S. Marion, Avenue, and Harrison Street neighborhoods of Oak Park, and to the shop-and-eat-o’plex that’s Madison Street, a few blocks past Harlem, in Forest Park.

Details in Better Homes and Gardens’ “how to get there” and “where to stay” boxes will spare you having to round up these facts for friends visiting from out of town. But for more on the destinations themselves, turn to our Shop Local coverage. What you see in a four-page national spotlight now, we’ve been covering for the last year in Shop Local standalone sections – five in all, including our spring HomeBook – published with Wednesday Journal and Forest Park Review.

Our series – news and feature stories in regular issues, too – about independent shops and their owners’ struggles to make goods available has, in fact, just earned statewide recognition. In a recent announcement about annual awards to be specified in October, the prestigious Illinois Press Association lists Wednesday Journal’s Shop Local campaign for excellence in the category of Community Service.

Helen Karakoudas

Let’s not forget local shopping for kids

Nickelodeon, the cable TV channel for kids, has through its ParentsConnect Web site tallied votes on Best Places in Chicago. According to Nick’s Parents Picks Awards for 2009, two Oak Park shops are tops.

Geppetto’s Toy Box, at 730 Lake, won for best toy store in Chicago. Geppetto’s Toy Box is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. www.geppettostoybox.com, 708-445-9906

The Magic Tree Bookstore, at 141 N. Oak Park Ave., won for best bookstore in Chicago. Magic Tree, celebrating its 25th anniversary, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday. www.magictreebookstore.com, 708-848-0770

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