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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published Jan. 27, 2011                                                      

Retail face of downtown gets
a makeover

Storefronts starting to fill up as local economy sends signals of growing confidence

By Ken Knutson

   The start of 2011 has witnessed some fresh arrivals and new beginnings in Hinsdale’s central business district, along with a couple of tough departures.
   J-Bees at Eleven East was opened late last year by Hinsdale native Patrice Bouchard.
   Bouchard said she saw a need for a store with fashionable men’s clothes in the downtown.
   “So we’re hoping to fill a void in the market,” she said.
   The store’s merchandise is actually half men’s, half women’s, with a “denim-based” concept. It offers trendy jean brands such as Seven for All Mankind and Diesel as well as familiar names like Levi’s and Ralph Lauren.
   “The clothing has more of an urban feel,” Bouchard said.
   The store has been getting good foot traffic so far, she said, and she expects business to rise with the coming spring temperatures.
   “It’s nice to see that the (downtown) is starting to fill up. We’re hoping that the store takes off and that people like it,” Bouchard said.
   At Ooh La La, owner Mary Anne Spidalette and daughter Ann Sobczak have brought their Butterfly Garden concept from Clarendon Hills to Hinsdale.
   Their big draw is parties for girls ages 4 to 13. They range from scrapbooking parties to spa gatherings, where girls soak their feet, put cucumber slices on their eyes and have their hair styled. The shop also offers small gift items.
   “We’re looking to serve the older tweens,” Spidalette said.
   Spidalette said they were excited to move into town and believe they found a magical spot.
   “We love this location. We’re really happy being in Hinsdale. Traffic’s been great,” she said.
   Jamie Polowy, photographer for Classic Kids, said the company was compelled to open up a branch in Hinsdale after welcoming a number customers from town at their Winnetka and Lincoln Park locations.
   “The time was right for us to branch out and add a new studio for the mix,” she said. “It was kind of a hike for those clients to get out to our studio.”
   The studio specializes in black and white portraits of children, families and pets, Polowy said.
   “Our signature is we still shoot film and do custom-made portraits of our customers,” she said. “It’s museum-quality work that will decorate their home and become heirlooms that they can keep for generations.”
   Polowy, who will be the head photographer at the Hinsdale studio when it opens in March, said she looks forward to introducing Classic Kids to the village and surrounding area.
   “We hope to reach out to the clients that we haven’t met yet who would love our work. We are so excited to join Hinsdale,” she said.
   Firenze To Go is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in Hinsdale with a new home on Washington Street in the heart of the downtown business district.
   Store manager Erin Swan said timing played a big role in the move, but it was also part of the vision to expand from the former site on Chestnut Avenue.
   “Our lease was up, and we really wanted to get into a bigger space with more room for people to come and sit in,” she said.
   The store features more tables for eat-in diners than before. The familiar packaged pasta dishes and salads are on display, but customers can also get hot pasta entrees or pizza by the slice.
   Swan said the response has been great both from loyal customers and new ones.
   “We had many people come in and express gratitude that we hadn’t closed,” she said.
   When Jasmine Martinez was transferred from Spex’s Hinsdale store a couple of years ago, she didn’t expect to return.
  But she said she’s excited to be back, now as store manager, as the First Street optical and eyewear store prepares to move into larger surroundings on Washington Street.
   “It’s a big move for us. It’s huge, and we’re really excited,” she said.
   The expanded space will be able to accommodate state-of-the-art optical equipment and stylish displays to showcase their fashionable frames and exclusive product lines.
   “We’re adding new lines, too. We’re growing,” Martinez said.
   Lumiere, Spex’s outlet for sunglasses, is opening right next door to offer customers more services in one convenient location.
   Martinez said the store is scheduled to open Feb. 8 or 9, with a grand opening set for March 11.

Clothing store, restaurant depart
Hinsdale will bid farewell to nearly a century of central business district history as Schoen’s prepares to close its doors Jan. 31.
   Jeanie Janes said she has enjoyed the outpouring of support she and her staff have received as news of the closing spread.
   “It has been great to see a parade of customers that we’ve known over the years. We’re sad because we have had just a wonderful time,” she said.
   Janes joined the store as a buyer in 1990 when Schoen’s was at its longtime 48 S. Washington St. location. She bought the women’s clothing store in 1998 and moved to it 120 S. Washington a couple of years ago.
   But Janes does not chalk up the store’s struggles to the relocation or parking issues.
   “It’s just been the recession,” she said matter-of-factly. “It just came to a point where it just wouldn’t work.”
   She said she takes comfort in knowing Schoen’s helped make shopping a fun experience for customers and she has enjoyed being active in the Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce.
   “I’m not sure how much everyone in the community realizes how much they do,” Janes said, referring to the many events throughout the year that the chamber sponsors.
   A resident of Hinsdale, she looks forward to seeing the downtown thrive again and be able to have her coffee in the coffee shop and not on the run.
   New Yolk New Yolk closed last week in sudden fashion. The eatery opened in the old Hinsdale Theater about a year ago, serving breakfast and lunch. An attempt to reach owner Peter Verros was unsuccessful.

Still to come
Todd Naccarato said there’s been a lot going on in the building at the southwest corner of First Street and Garfield Avenue.
   “We just finished renovating the inside at the very end of last year,” he said.  “We opened them up so they show a lot better (to prospective tenants).”
   With two spaces of 5,000 square feet each, Naccarato said they could be converted into smaller floor plans to accommodate tenants’ needs.
   With the economy still on the mend, Naccarato said he is being patient in identifying national or regional retailers who might be interested.
   “Activity has been kind of quiet,” he said. “I still believe we’re probably six months away from one or two of the spaces being occupied. We feel that they’ll be looking for new opportunities later this year.”

New stores, new spots
Downtown Hinsdale welcomes several new stores as well as a couple of longtime Hinsdale businesses with new addresses.

New arrivals

   11 E. First St.

Ooh La La
   9 E. First St.

Classic Kids Photography (opening in March)
   28 E. Hinsdale Ave.


   45 S. Washington St.

Spex (opening Feb. 8-9)
   104 Washington St.





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