I have lived in Oak Park for more than 27 years, but it continues to surprise me.

Case in point was when my friend, Suze Solari, a style consultant who lives in River Forest, invited me recently to a night out with food, music, and shopping at Selleria Veneta on Oak Park Avenue. I had walked past the store many times but not been inside, though my mom sports a beautiful bracelet she got there on one of her visits. So I was excited to have an excuse to check it out.

Not only did I leave with a beautiful buttery red leather purse on sale, after having a very fun night, but I cannot believe I waited so long to step inside and meet the owners of this iconic Oak Park store that brings such beauty to Oak Park and the Hemingway District.

Co-owner Moses Valdez, with his seven siblings and parents, moved to Oak Park in 1978 and his family was among the first Mexican Americans to settle in the community. Moses graduated from OPRF High School in 1992. He said four of his siblings also graduated from OPRF and two worked there.

“After living in various locations across the country, I returned to Oak Park and started Selleria Veneta with my best friend, Cecilia (who is originally from Padua, Italy). We meet Italian artisans and bring their creations to the Chicago area. Being that Cecilia is from the Veneto region, we import most of our artisan pieces from this special place,” Moses told me.

“We opened in the Hemingway District right before the pandemic and it was a struggle, but we are still here. We also established wonderful relationships with all the businesses and business owners on Oak Park Avenue. During the pandemic we spearheaded various special events to bring attention to our beautiful shopping district.”

Selleria Veneta is launching a new event: The North/South 3rd Friday Night, Moses added.

Oak Park Avenue has great shopping. From the athletic clothing at Lively (and the Goodr sunglasses that at $25 are now my go-to), to dozens of flavored olive oils at Olive and Well and the special treasures at Manouche, The Irish Shoppe and Filoni. And of course, there’s Tony’s Shoe Clinic that gives more life to our beloved items. 

Gem, the gorgeous jewelry boutique, now has opened Gem Home, in the alley with art and antiques sprinkled among art books and other new items.

And since we’re talking surprises. I popped into Trends with my 25-year-old daughter a few weeks ago. We were looking for special occasion dresses. She didn’t find a dress but did walk away with some other amazing finds, including almost new Patagonia overalls and some amazing tops. And I found an incredible dress in my size that cost probably one-tenth of the retail price.

Melanie Weiss
Oak Park

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