When I began this journey of Lake County towns, I had one little town in mind that I couldn’t wait to hit and saved it for one of my last visits: Long Grove.
I have a history with little Long Grove that dates back to my childhood.
My mom and grandma would go to this little town for lunch dates when I was little. My mom worked at the quaint toy store here for years; the former owners are family friends of ours. I have walked these brick paths many times over and waited in lines wrapped out around the corner for a chocolate covered strawberry on a hot summer day.
This little village holds my heart, so I couldn’t wait to visit it and share it with all of you!
Imagine how sad I was when my 15-year-old daughter and I arrived there and, as we slowly walked around, saw no signs of life on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
Instead we were met with lots of these signs instead:
My childhood was slowly being torn apart with each real estate sign we passed.
My normally impatient teenager was very solemn as she watched me walk by each shuttered store with a look as though I had lost my childhood stuffed animal.
It was kind of heartbreaking.
At last, I found a store, Within Reach, that my mom and I used to shop at and I almost sprinted toward the door to get inside.
The smells were the same, a mix of candles and old, musty house, but I was giddy and I could tell she was giddy for me.
As we browsed the purses, necklaces and knick knacks, she asked me what had happened to Long Grove.
I told her two words, “Deer Park.”
A local outdoor mall was built several years ago a few miles away and after it was erected, Long Grove was never the same again.
Quaint little shops made way for stores such as Bath and Body Works, Banana Republic and World Market.
The Old Fashioned Country Store on the corner? Gone. In place of a Whole Foods down the road.
Little cafes no longer fill up when you can grab a burrito at Chipotle or a burger at Five Guys.
The Peppermint Stick Ice Cream Shop, which was always a huge favorite, is long gone because it can’t compete with 20 flavors of frozen yogurt and toppings of every color of the rainbow.
At the back of Within Reach, I said to Anna, “Oh my gosh, look! These are the plaques that Mamie bought you and Ella for your nurseries when you were babies! She got them at this store when I was pregnant with both of you!”
We both searched the plaques for each of the girls’ names and sure enough there they were.
You just can’t put a price on memories like that.
And you can’t find moments like that at Deer Park in a Pottery Barn.
As we stumbled out of the store and looked at some more sad landscape, we were both ready to call it a day and I struggled to figure out how I was going to salvage this post.
I really wanted to write about Long Grove for this week and then, out of nowhere, I was thrown a bone.
I saw it from across the street.
The candy store.
Could it be? Was it really?
IT IS STILL THERE!
We walked into the candy store of my childhood!
The smells! The creaky wood floors! The bathtub full of salt water taffy! It was still there!
All of it!
I wanted to cry. I may have cried. But I didn’t care!
I told Anna, “Whatever you want, I’ll buy it for you, you name it!”
She got a sack of salt water taffy and we walked out.
Then, as if on cue, the music wafting through the loudspeakers was Barry Manilow singing “I Write the Songs that Make the Whole World Sing.”
I said to the Universe, “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!”
Even my daughter laughed out loud at seeing her mom being transported to her childhood on this bizarre day.
We stopped at the Long Grove Confectionery and got ourselves a famous chocolate covered strawberry for three bucks on the way out of town.
No wait in line this time.
Just walked right up.
And it was as delicious as I remembered.
My grandma would have loved this day.
I will bring my mom back when she visits next.
I just hope Long Grove is still there. And it can be, if you to help me save it.
I know you don’t owe me anything, but I love it so much and so much of my childhood is tied up in it.
I love small businesses, as you all know, and I would love for some small businesses to fall in love with Long Grove.
So share this post, spread the word and let’s make it what it used to be.
Take your kids to the candy store, walk the brick paths, get a chocolate covered strawberry and go visit the mill.
There are still things to do in Long Grove.
Visit here to see for yourself why it is worth it.
Long Grove is located at Robert Parker Coffin Road.
It is just north of Buffalo Grove and just south of Vernon Hills.
Tucked in between the shopping malls.