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Downsizing Halloween … a “Real Simple” Solution.

We used to live in a house in a neighborhood of houses. Lots of cute little kids came by every Halloween. But since our own children have long since grown up and moved away, we’ve downsized to an apartment in a small, three-unit building.  Now the only kids who stop by are the two little boys who live in the apartment above us.

The first year we lived in our new digs we bought lots of candy and carved pumpkins and did the whole Halloween thing.  We LOVE Halloween and enjoy seeing the kids in their costumes, and looked forward to plopping lots of candy bars in trick-or-trick bags and plastic pumpkins, same as ever. But we forgot that most kids don’t do apartment buildings. We ended up with a rather smelly hallway and a ton of candy in our fridge that we saved for Christmas stockings!

What to do?  Can’t stink up the hallway anymore. But we still want to have something for those two expectant guys upstairs. Here’s the solution:

We buy a pumpkin, actually a fake pumpkin, a put it in this cute spider pumpkin stand from tag.  We have a second stand for the candy …

We set the pumpkin on a kitchen chair just outside our door so the boys will know we’re open for trick-or-treating as they race down the hallway stairs on their way out to the street in their costumes (always fun and cute!). We put the candy on a second chair just inside the door. When they arrive we give half the bowl to one boy and the other half to his brother! Done for the night!

It’s a fun solution and it’s real simple.  In fact, Real Simple thinks so, too, and so featured the tag stand on their website! 

Click here to go to the Real Simple page:

The result?  Those two boys always make sure they knock on our door on Halloween! Their parents?  They’re cool about it. The boys’ treat bags get fuller faster and they can come back home earlier!

It’s getting close to Halloween but you can still find spider pumpkin stands, and lots more Halloween stuff, at

1730 Outlet, 1730 W. Wrightwood, Chicago (just east of Clybourn), Monday through Saturday 9:00 to 5:00.  773-871-4331.

Or click here for a list of Chicago retailers. Call first because the stand is very popular and may be sold out (this happened in New York!!).

If you’re beyond Halloween and already thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas, check out the new holiday assortment at  They still have Halloween available, too!  Just type “halloween” in the search window. But you must order your Halloween items from by Friday morning, October 26.

Happy Holidays, everyone!


speaking words of wine wisdom, let it breathe!

tag‘s VIVA Scandinavia aerator and decanter have been receiving great independent reviews lately!  Which is fabulous because you should know that you don’t have to pay $30, $40, or $50 for an effective aerator. You can get both the VIVA aerator and the very stylish “wine” decanter for the price of many aerators alone.

And the system WORKSCheck out a review here (scroll down a bit because the VIVA review is within a wine review)!  And another one here!

The funnel aerator alone at $12.95 is perhaps the best value on the market, especially if you’ve been thinking about buying an aerator but have been put off by the cost. I just told my sister about it and she’s MAD at me because she just went out and spent over $40 on an aerator alone at a department store that will remain nameless. I could have saved her over $25 if I had spoken sooner. Oh well. Have to make it up to her with … let me think about it … maybe a bottle of wine, distributed by Vinejoy.

Here’s what the aerator and decanter look like, shown with our “cheers” stemless wine glasses, also designed by VIVA Scandinavia …

I use one at home every time I open a bottle of wine. Just last night I opened a French red, not expensive, and poured my wife a taste. She frowned and said, “Tastes a little rough.”

“Sorry!” I said. “I forgot to decant!” I went to the pantry and fetched our tag VIVA funnel aerator and let the wine “breathe,” aerating it completely.

“Nice!” said my wife after tasting the aerated wine.  “Very nice.”

This is a true story!

Where can you find tag‘s VIVA Scandinavia wine products?  Click here for a list of retailers in the Chicago area.

Or you can find tag’s VIVA Scandinavia products at – just type “viva” in the search window.

More lights! More TV! More action!

Son of Blogger and Wife of Son of Blogger have a beautiful new addition to their family!  Here she is …

How shameless am I for posting that photo? How can I resist? She’s so beautiful!  But what does she have to do with 1730 Outlet and tag?  Well …

Son of Blogger was stranded with Granddaughter of Blogger because Wife of Son of Blogger (and Mother of Granddaughter of Blogger) had to go to school.  Got that?

Anyway, Son of Blogger craved pâté.  Now, most people think that expectant mothers have strange cravings, not fathers of newborns. Most people would be mistaken!

As a dutiful grandfather I thought it best to buy the pâté to help get Son of Blogger through the sleepless nights (baby was born three weeks ago) and so hopped in the car and headed up to … where else? … City Provisions ( on Wilson between Wolcott and Ravenswood. They not only have the best pâté, but the best of everything deli, including meats and cheeses and breads and wine and spirits and beer and … THE WORLD’S BEST HAM SANDWICH. I timed my trip up there around lunch so I would just HAVE TO have one of those ham sandwiches.

I parked on Wolcott. The wind must have been out of the east because when I stepped out of the car the aroma of the most delicious foods imagineable enveloped me and pulled me around the corner and to City Provisions’ entrance. And whom do I see sitting at a table chatting away under the hot lights of yet another TV crew? It was our friend Cleetus Friedman, chef and owner of City Provisions, with Brittney Payton (Walter’s daughter) of Chicago’s Best TV show.

(Photo by CLTV)

And Cleetus was wearing a tag apron — the kind you can find at 1730 Outlet!  Or at  In fact, this is Cleetus’ apron …

You can buy it here:

Here’s Cleetus in his apron helping a customer in his store.

The episode is scheduled to air June 6 on WGN (check local listings). Cleetus tells me he plugged tag on the air!  Cool!  Let’s see if we make the cut or end up on the virtual cutting room floor. They let me wander around the store ordering things as they filmed, so maybe your humble blogger will make it into the episode somewhere in the background! That is if I don’t end up on the same virtual floor.

My ham sandwich was to die for.  So was the pâté, and the hummus, and the bottle of Vinejoy wine, and …

Lights! Camera! Action! 1730 on TV!

We got the call one Monday morning. Kira Pertzborn, the producer of HGTV’s Great Rooms TV show starring Chicago’s own Meg Caswell, wanted to film in our 1730 Outlet store!  They would be here at 2:00pm that same day!!

(HGTV Photo)

WHA?  Holey moley!  That doesn’t give us much time to fluff and buff and get ready. Not even time enough to race home for a wardrobe change in case one of us ends up on camera!

But then they called back and delayed the “shoot” until Thursday.  (insert sigh of relief here)

What fun it turned out to be! Kira scoped out our tag furniture room …

… they set up the big lights …

… and then they started shooting, inside the store plus some exteriors …

(Photo by HGTV)

Meg walked 1730’s tag furniture room selecting several items for the makeover of an apartment in Marina City.  (Fun piece of trivia:  Marina City was designed by famous Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg and his staff headed up by architect and chief draftsman Ben Honda, father of Chicago White Sox, Blackhawks, DePaul, Final Four [and more] P.A. announcer Gene Honda!  One of the construction sub-contractors was your blog writer’s father! Okay … back to Meg and Kira and 1730 Outlet … )

She talked at length with our own Bobby Cassell, who wore his blue suede shoes for the occassion. Meg was so taken with Bobby and his footware that she decided that the working title for the episode would be “Blue Suede Shoes”!

And we don’t blame her. Dig Bobby’s shoes!  And dig the cuffs… !


Here are the items Meg selected for the Marina City apartment, all of appropriately contemporary design, in the spirit of another great Chicago architect, the late Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, head of the “Chicago Bauhaus” at the Illinois Institute of Technology on the South Side.

This first item, tag furniture‘s Manhattan shelving unit, even looks like a Mies skyscraper — like the Seagram Building in, appropriately, Manhattan!


The next item was our Gramercy end table …

The final two items were tag furniture‘s Archer red table and Elston brown counter stool (how are those for a couple of good Chicago street names — both diagonals that cut across the city?  Do you know why those streets are there? I’ll save that bit of Chicago geological history for another day.).

Doesn’t the center spindle support remind you a little of Marina City???

And here’s the Brown Elston counter stool …

Nice choices!

At the end of the shoot Meg posed with our store staff and said a fond farewell. 

But we’ll see her on HGTV soon! Her second season starts May 5 (check local listings), and the episode starring Bobby and our tag furniture room is scheduled for July 14.

Hooray for Hollywood!  Or at least 1730 Wrightwood!

1730 Outlet.  1730 W. Wrightwood, Chicago.  Mon-Fri 10-6.  Sat 10-5. 773-871-4331.

And don’t forget to visit our website:  Lots more great home products!

We are everywhere!

It was a beautiful weekend, so we hopped in the car and headed for Indiana.  Indiana? you ask, startled.  Because when you think of Indiana you think this…

The image above is from the movie North by Northwest directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant (left). This scene was indeed shot in Indiana along Route 41 between Chicago and Indianapolis (I65 didn’t exist when they filmed this movie).

But we continued south past Indianapolis to Bloomington where it looks like this …

And this …

The daffodils, pear trees, magnolias, and forsythia were blooming in Bloomington.

We had a wonderful time, lunching outdoors and tromping about the lovely, limestone-dotted landscape. On Sunday we had brunch at a fun country French restaurant, and then ambled through the streets stopping at a what looked like a cute little boutique not far from the town’s main square. “Relish,” as the store is called, turned out to feature clothing accessories, a wonderful selection of ’50’s/60’s retro-like furnishings and home decor, and tabletop.

And then I turned a corner and what did my wondering eyes behold but …

tag Bubble Glass! Nice! I looked around and saw our white dinnerware and a bunch of other nice tag items. Cool store indeed!

We drove home happy, and found that Chicago was catching up with points south in terms of blossoming foliage. This shot was taken along Paulina Avenue just north of Wrightwood, right behind 1730 Outlet…


So stroll on down. We have some Bubble Glass, too. And so does our website …

And we’re ready for spring, and Easter. In fact, right now, everything Easter is 10% off our already low outlet prices.

Hope to see you here soon!  1730 W. Wrightwood, Chicago. Mon-Fri 10-6. Sat 10-5.


This is not 1730 Outlet …

… in spite of the signs at left. This house belongs to our next door neighbor.

Driving to work the other day I almost ran up on the curb when I saw this just a couple blocks from the office …

What the heck?? I’ve heard of gold as a color choice for a new car, but this … this looked like it was forged at Fort Knox. 

Which got me to thinking about our neighborhood in general. As I’ve written before, I’m pretty sure Bears star Matt Forte lives in the immediate area, at least during football season. And our local Starbucks was frequented by ex-Cub Carlos Zambrano, who now lives in Miami near Ozzie Guillen. New Cubs President Theo Epstein just bought a house about three minutes away (closer to Wrigley Field, but still pretty close to us), and only a block away from Cub pitcher Ryan Dempster (did I ever tell you the story about how we gave Ryan Dempster a ride in Lancaster, PA??).

There are a lot of big houses around here. Whenever we pass one and wonder who lives in it, we instinctively say “ball player.”

So maybe a ball player owns this car??? On second thought, I don’t know. If you’ve ever looked in the Cubs players’ parking lot at the ballpark, you’d know that they drive nice cars (Derek Lee had a creamy white Bentley), but rarely will one drive anything as ostentatious as this number. Mostly they drive black SUVs, which would fit in around here pretty well.

Thus you see that 1730 Outlet is located in a pretty nice neighborhood. And our outlet has everything you could possibly need for your home, and stuff that coordinates with any interior! Or exterior! We even have items that go perfectly with solid gold automobiles …

Gold votive holders! 2 bucks apiece! Not real gold, of course. But then neither is the car.

Stop by and check out what else is golden in the outlet … like our prices. Can’t beat ’em.

1730 W. Wrightwood, Chicago.  773-871-4331.  Mon-Fri 10-6. Sat 10-5.

And check out our very nice website, all dressed up and ready for spring and Easter. 

Speaking of which, it’s like July outside today! 

And who do you think owns that house at the top of the blog? I don’t know. Ball player??

A tisket, a tasket, a tag easter basket!

Our colleagues at just posted a seasonal tip about putting together your own easter gift basket. You can read it by clicking here.

… which got me to thinking about easter baskets and baskets in general … which got me to thinking about my favorite basket song. In 1938, the Chick Webb Orchestra recorded a wonderful little basket number with their young new vocalist. Click here and have a listen! 

Chick Webb was one of the best drummers of the Big Band Era.  His orchestra was the resident band of the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, New York City. And I think most of you know his vocalist, who was only 21 when the song was recorded!

What does this have to do with 1730 Outlet? Well, thinking about the Savoy Ballroom got me thinking about the local Chicago venues where the big bands played, like the Aragon Ballroom and neighboring Uptown Theater. The Uptown, which opened in 1925, was at the time the largest “movie palace” in the country. It was a mix-use venue that staged plays and musicals, showed movies, and employed its own 30+ piece big band orchestra. Its stunning 104 foot facade is clad in terra cotta designed, formed and fired by Northwestern Terra Cotta, 1730 W. Wrightwood!

(photo by Bruce Sharp)

Northwestern also manufactured the terra cotta facade of the Chicago Theater in the Loop, and many others. Check out the detail of the Chicago facade below.

(photo by Bruce Sharp)

You can see the intricate terra cotta detail on the left, echoed in the ceiling of the lobby seen through the window.

Here’s more of the facade:

So next time you visit 1730 Outlet and step into our Furniture Showroom, look up at the refractory ceiling, installed to keep the heat inside the tunnel kiln that ran through the building. And then imagine the beautiful terra cotta that today still clads Chicago’s historic theaters, making its way through the kiln on small rail cars, as seen below. The loading door for the kiln at right is still visible in our outlet warehouse.

(photo courtesy Chicago History Museum)

And while you’re in the store, check out our spring and Easter collections. Perfect for your family’s spring celebrations, or for an Easter Gift Basket!!

1730 Outlet Company . 1730 W. Wrightwood . Chicago . 773-871-4331 . Mon-Fri 10-6. Sat 10-5 .