We recently spotted a new Ramen and Sushi bar at 812 Church St. Hokkaido is currently hiring for all positions and looks like it will be open very soon. 

Shower Blooms is a company, and more recently a store, that sells natural skin care essentials. Owner Olivia Jones started making soaps as a hobby. Three years ago, with the encouragement of friends and family, she expanded it into a profession.

The Shower Blooms store is at 1917 Central St. Credit: Isabelle Reiniger

Her business used to be in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood in a third-floor space, but she said she needed a storefront for foot traffic. In May 2022 she opened one at 1917 Central St.

Jones, born in Jamaica, was raised in Evanston and Skokie, and felt drawn back to open her business here, where she continues to have family and friends. 

Her merchandise includes soap bars, body butters, body washes, body scrubs, exfoliating gloves and more.

“The Central Street Business Association has been amazing,” Jones told me at the West End Market where she had a table at the fall event. “They have been so welcoming!” she said and added: ”It is working out so well. Some people bring their family from out of town.” The C&W Market at Church Street and Dodge Avenue also carries her products.

Factions of Sol is a new board game created by Mark IV Games. It was “born” in Evanston and is the brainchild of six former Northwestern University students.

The original idea came from Elam Blackwell, the founder of Mark IV Games, but he was joined by Joe Blanchard (a Haven Middle School and ETHS graduate), Adam Downing, Harry Echtman, Emma Sollenberger, Samara Malik, Roxanne Pants and Danny Beckwith in developing and promoting the game.

They were originally dorm mates and began developing the game prior to the pandemic. During the pandemic, when the group was strewn across the country, they played an online simulation several times a week. However, “it was always meant to be a board game,” Sollenberger said.

Blanchard and Sollenberger explained the game comparing it to “Catan, but in space and instead of hexagons you have planets,” and “a little bit like Sorry, where you can kick off other people’s pieces,” and also like “space Mancala.

Sollenberger said, ”You travel from planet to planet and move creatively. You acquire more and more abilities as you progress.” Their Kickstarter page features video reviews, which are fun to watch and help explain the game – just be sure to keep on scrolling, there is a lot on the page.

The group did well on Kickstarter. Their goal was $18,000 during the funding period that ended Oct. 13. Instead, they raised $34,753.

The game is to be produced by Hero Time, which says on its website that it is “the first Western-owned board game manufacturer” that helps people navigate production in China, and it will be available in 2023. The game can be preordered via Backerkit for $69. Mark IV is planning to ship the game to countries outside of the U.S., but it won’t be translated into other languages for now. Though the game is currently still legally tied to Evanston, it will move to Madison, Wis., where founder Blackwell is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in physics. 

Here are some further business tidbits:

PL$ on the corner of Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue has closed. Credit: Isabelle Reiniger

PL$ on the corner of Dempster and Dodge has closed. The signs say it moved to Chicago and indeed the business has multiple locations in Chicago. The nearest PL$ location is at 7201 N. California Ave. in West Rogers Park, and an employee at that location told me the building at the Evanston location has been sold. That leaves the Evanston Currency Exchange on Maple Avenue as the only check-cashing place in town.

Jill Norton, who has maintained a photography studio at 725 Washington Ave for 18 years, is moving her business to Edgewater in Chicago. She won’t maintain a studio space anymore, but is available to work on location. For the record, Norton has done headshots twice for me over the years and each time, I was pleased with the results. 

Isabelle Reiniger

Isabelle Reiniger, LCSW is a writer and psychotherapist in private practice in Evanston. She reports on local businesses opening and closing for the Evanston RoundTable. Reach Isabelle at isabelle.reiniger@me.com.

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