LAKE IN THE HILLS – Hanging from the walls of Funky Munky are hand-tooled leather purses that look like owls and rows and rows of belts made out of old-school seat belts.
In the jewelry case, there are hand-carved wooden gauges, and next to the case is a custom-made display featuring one of the store's best sellers, Minnetonka moccasins.
"It’s just a really nice eclectic blend of clothing, jewelry, accessories, gift items," owner Jodi Galle said. "Best thing is, it’s very, very unique merchandise."
Funky Munky celebrated its 20th year in business this year, growing from a cart at Spring Hill Mall to a storefront of its own.
Newly graduated with a business degree from the University of Iowa, Galle didn't know what to do, though she knew she wanted to own her own business.
She started selling T-shirts at the Taste of Chicago. From there, she just kept adding more items, going around to college campuses and then getting a cart at Randhurst Mall in Mount Prospect.
Her mother, Peggy Galle, who later became her business partner and helped her open her first store, bought her first cash register.
Her business was then called Sun Splash, but after she moved to Spring Hill, a couple of wrong numbers later led to the discovery that there was already a tanning salon with that name. She'd been thinking about expanding her product line and starting a second cart, so she decided to head in a new direction.
She was just "being silly and playing around with names and sounds" when she came up with Funky Munky, Galle said.
And it's stuck.
Funky Munky has spent the last 10 years at its current location, 323 N. Randall Road, Lake in the Hills.
It's thei unique items that have given the store staying power, Galle said.
"It’s items that you don’t find at a lot of other stores and locations, and that has always been our niche, having things that aren’t at your big, mass chains or department stores or discounters, things like that," she said.
"Our customer tends to want to be a little bit different than everyone else. They want to walk into a room and not seeing the same thing they’re wearing on three other people. That has always been our strength."
Galle searches out her items at trade shows, guessing what will be the big hit this coming season, or picks up the newest line from a tried-and-true company. She prefers small businesses, though, because they're not selling to chains.
Funky Munky, for example, has sold Buckle-Down belts since it opened in Spring Hill Mall. At the time, the company made the standard black belt with vintage buckles. It added new straps over the years, and recently incorporated some major franchises like Star Wars and Big Bang Theory
"They were kind of like we were where it’s like you take something small and unique, but you keep making it more unique each year," Galle said. "It’s a unique item, but it’s something we could carry for 20 years versus other things, we have it for season or a year and we’re done with it."
Galle doesn't have any changes planned for the future, she said. She's more focused on getting through the economic downturn unscathed.
About Funky Munky:
What: A clothing and accessories store located at 323 N. Randall Road, Lake in the Hills
Information: Call 847-458-6006 or visit shopfunkymunky.com
Hours: Noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday