With 2012 nearing its conclusion, HuffPost Chicago reached out to some of city's most prolific trendsetters and experts in style, music and culture and asked them to share some of their favorite local places and things from the year. We'll be rolling them out on the daily through New Year's Day.

Forget mass-market chain stores found in Everytown, USA. Small businesses are vital in shaping the DNA of a neighborhood -- or even a city -- and Chicago continued to add new life in 2012 with a crop of excellent new shops.

To get the skinny on the best new stores that opened in 2012, HuffPost called on Chicago shopping expert Emily Fiffer, the Windy City editor for Daily Candy and one-third of the creative force behind the new pop-up food and design market, Fête Chicago.

The shopping-savvy editor rounded up her favorite new retail spots of the year, with a list that covers food, books and gifts. Bonus: many of the shops included feature items made by local talent, adding a dose of Chicago originality to stores that are entirely unique to the Windy City.

Text below by Fiffer. Check out more of Fiffer's picks at the next Fête Chicago market when it returns in April.

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  • City Lit

    I could wax poetic about my favorite new bookstore in Logan Square - its alluring titles (French childrens' books! A wall of Spanish literature! Cookbooks galore!), charming staff, and allegiance to customers (they'll order virtually anything you want). Oh wait, I just did. <em>2523 N. Kedzie Blvd.</em> <a href="http://www.citylitbooks.com">http://www.citylitbooks.com</a>

  • Martyn George

    Worn enamel, twinkly crystal cake platters, weathered cutting boards, copper saucepans: It's no surprise this vintage culinary shop is owned by a Brit who moonlights as a food stylist. <em>1855 W. Grand Ave.</em> <a href="http://martyngeorge.com/">http://martyngeorge.com</a>

  • Luxury Garage Sale

    Will Lindsay Segal and Brielle Buchberg take over the universe? After opening their brick and mortar Old Town shop (an offshoot of their website), teeming with fairly priced, gently used designer stock, world domination seems like the natural next step. <em>1658 N. Wells St.</em> <a href="http://luxurygaragesale.com/about">luxurygaragesale.com</a>

  • Neighborly

    Take one part Midwest-made goods (Milkhaus tea towels), add a dash of Norwegian charm (polka-dot blankets from RosenbergCph), and you get this cozy North Center home store. <em>2003 W. Montrose Ave.</em> <a href="http://www.neighborlyshop.com/"> www.neighborlyshop.com</a>

  • CAZA

    Sad as we were to see Lenny & Me go, the crew behind Caza breathed new, well-edited life into Wicker Park. Where else in town can you score Versace turtlenecks and Deco coffee tables? <em>1459 N. Milwaukee Ave.</em> <a href="http://www.cazachicago.com">http://www.cazachicago.com</a>

  • Study Hall

    One of the first new school boutiques to hit West Town, Study Hall is a mashup of men's and womenswear, arty screenprints, and design reads. <em>912 N. Ashland Ave.</em> <a href="http://www.shopstudyhall.com">http://www.shopstudyhall.com</a>

  • Shop 1021

    Does buying gifts stump you? Logan Square's one-stop-shop is a delicious amalgamation of quirky books, retro confections, vintage linens, modern housewares, and more. <em>2650 N. Milwaukee Ave.</em> <a href="http://www.shop1021.com">www.shop1021.com</a>