While the economy may not be conducive to starting a new business, two entrepreneurs believe the timing is right for their venture.
Nitai Pandya and Mia Kenig-Bujnarowski recently opened American Aisle, a shop where all the merchandise is made in the United States.
The store operates at 839 E. Rollins Road in Round Lake Beach next to Garden Fresh Market.
"It makes complete economic sense to support local industries right now," said Pandya about the shop that opened a little more than a month ago.
The entrepreneurs said they serve a niche in that they sell unique products and gifts.
Leather products from South Carolina have been popular items at the shop. Purses and bags, ranging in price from $2 to $90, are part of the mix along with wallets, baggage tags and hair accessories.
Soaps and baby products, many of which are organic, cosmetics, candles and lotions also were popular during the holidays.
"We ran out of some of the creams already," Pandya said.
Kitchen accessories and baking pans also have been going over well.
Preserve products, a line of stylish, eco-friendly items for the home, have been selling well. The colorful dishes, cutting boards and lunchboxes all are made from 100 percent recycled plastics and 100 percent post-consumer paper.
The shop also features an array of board and mind games and other items for children, such as wooden logs, cars and yo-yos.
"Everything has a place in the retail marketplace," Pandya said.
He and his business partner have worked for a year and a half to find all the products for the shop. It has not been easy opening a business in tough economic times, but they look forward to when the economy picks up, they said.
Pandya added that their message is the worst economic times are the best time to support something local.
The duo also own Liberty Tax in Round Lake Beach.
Pandya, 48, and his wife reside in Park City where they have a daughter that attends the College of Lake County.
He immigrated here about five years ago from India, where he had an advertising agency. He is a permanent resident here and is in the process of becoming an American citizen.
Kenig-Bujnarowski, 42, originally is from Poland and now lives in Round Lake.
The business owners met while working for Liberty Tax and then opened their own tax business.
They said shoppers can expect to find unique products at their business.
"We have quality products as we work primarily with small manufacturers," Pandya said.
The shop is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (847) 543-1872.