Shop Local: 10 BBQ and Beach Essentials that Will Elevate Your Summer

We’re in the dog days of summer, which is a siren call to us midwesterners that it’s time to take advantage of our short summer season while we can. Whether you’re enjoying backyard grilling or hitting up the beaches of Lake Michigan, here are 10 items we love from local stores that will make those summer days even better.

Hecky’s Original Barbecue Sauce
Schaefer’s, $6.95

9965 Gross Point Rd., Skokie

No barbecue is complete without Hecky’s famous Barbecue Sauce from the iconic Evanston barbecue joint. The authentic Southern original sauce will add a delicious smokey, zesty New Orleans flavor to whatever you’re cooking. Pick it up at Schaefer’s Wines, Foods and Spirits.

Evanston Beach Towel by Marian Nixon Paintings
Threadless, $3644

Produced by Chicago’s own Threadless, an online community of artists, this beach towel is perfect to show off your North Shore pride. Created by artist Marian Nixon, the painting features Dempster Street Beach looking north toward Northwestern University. Grab it in two sizes, 30″ x 60″ or 35″ x 72″.

GEFU BBQ Apron
Sur La Table, $79.95

Old Orchard or 900 N Michigan Locations

This heavy-duty apron, featuring pockets and handy loops, is a rugged option whether you are at the smoker, grill, black top or at your trusty green egg. Featuring sturdy waxed cotton material that easily wipes clean with a damp cloth, it has size-adjusting ties at the neck and waist and high-grade genuine leather appliqués.

Sunnylife Mega Jumbling Tower – Multi
Angelina, $110

202 S Cook St., Barrington

Perfect for the backyard or beach, Sunnylife’s Mega Jumbling Tower is a fun take on the classic stacking game that’s great for all ages.

BBQ Rub & Spice Backyard Bundle
Backyard Barbecue Store, $89

535 Green Bay Road, Wilmette

Spice up your favorite meats with the Backyard Bundle from the Backyard Barbecue Store in Wilmette. The kit features seven flavorful seasonings, including Truffle Shuffle Truffle Salt, Cosmos Dry Rub Texas Beef & Honey Killer Bee, Boars Night Out BBQ Rub & White Lightening, and more.

Yeti Hopper M30 Soft Cooler
Yeti Store or at select retailers including True Value and Dick’s Sporting Goods, $299.99

Yeti Retail Store: 1572 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago

Hands down, this is our favorite beach cooler bag. Not only is the soft cooler bag durable and functional, but it’s the perfect size for a day on the go.

Colorscience Sunforgettable Brush SPF 50
Skinfo, $69

716 Vernon Avenue, Glencoe or 275 Parkway Drive, Suite 612, Lincolnshire

Dermatologist recommended, Colorscience Sunforgettable® is the first SPF 50, all-clear, mineral powder with broad spectrum (UVA and UVB and Infrared) sun protection. The nearly invisible light weight mineral powder is easy to apply, and a great size to stash in your purse or beach bag.

Gourmet S’Mores Kit
XO Marshmallow, $15.95

6977 N Sheridan Rd., Chicago

Nothing says summer like a bonfire and s’mores. Make it extra special with a locally made gourmet s’mores kit from XO Marshmallow, that includes everything you need to make four ooey gooey s’mores.

Hands-Free Wireless W Fan
Chalet, $39.99

3132 Lake Ave., Wilmette

Looking for a way to beat the heat while out gardening or attending a summer fest? Pick up the W Fan from Chalet. It will give you portable, wearable wireless cooling relief.

Sunbuster Folding Shelter
L.L.Bean, $129

Old Orchard Mall, 4999 Old Orchard Shopping Center, Skokie

This portable pop-up shelter has all you need to protect you and your family from the sun and hot sand at the beach — it goes up in seconds (and folds up easy), is UV-resistant and has a rated sun protection of UPF 50+.


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Macaire Douglas

Macaire Douglas lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to prevent the illegal abandonment of newborns nationwide. Since its inception in 2000, more than 3,600 newborns have been safely surrendered and adopted into loving homes.