Strip mall surprises, part I: Brookside Shopping Plaza Shopping Center

Strip mall. For some, the phrase is synonymous with “suburban eyesore.” For others, it’s just something you pass on your way somewhere else. Either way, living in suburbia inevitably means close proximity to these sprawling developments.

A few weekends ago, as we hosted a playdate at an arcade in a Northbrook strip mall, it dawned on me how often we visit that particular strip mall–not just for the arcade, but for several different businesses. That made me consider all the other nearby strip malls that, I realized, we patronize pretty often.

Love ‘em or not, strip malls in the ‘burbs actually have a lot to offer, and I’m here to tell you why. In an ongoing series profiling local strip malls, I’ll tell you about the places I love that you’ve probably driven past a thousand times.

Up first: Brookside Shopping Plaza Shopping Center, located at 555 Waukegan Road in Northbrook.

Nickel City

Two dollars gets each person in the door, and after that, it’s all nickels, baby. Choose from over 100 arcade games, from skeeball to hoops, plus 30 classic video games (Pac-Man, Tetris, etc.) that are completely free. Redemption prizes are the highlight for kids, and there’s also a spacious party room plus an expanded snack bar.


Anderson Musik

Looking for private music lessons? From guitar and piano to voice, drums and all band instruments, Anderson specializes in teaching kids of all ages–and the first lesson is always free. If you’re not ready to purchase an instrument, Anderson also provides quality rentals at low monthly rates.


Max and Benny’s

Homemade, homemade, homemade. That’s why I love this place. The sweetest bakery treats, hearty soups that fill up little tummies and classic deli sandwiches make Max and Benny’s a most reliable standby. The menu is long, varied and affordable. (Sidenote: Don’t leave without a hamantaschen!)


Play It Again Sports

Kids playing sports? A good thing. The expense of all-new equipment? A bad thing. Play it Again Sports sells new and used gear that’s still in great condition, from baseball gloves to ice skates and hockey sticks to treadmills. Bring in your used gear and get 20 percent off in trade value–that’s on top of the up to 70 percent off original prices you’ll save to begin with.


Alpha Krav Maga Compound

Take a kickboxing class for an awesome workout or learn Krav Maga for self-defense. No matter why you walk through the doors of the Alpha Krav Maga Compound, you’ll be met with knowledgeable staff who want you to get fit, learn techniques for balanced living and have fun in the process.


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