Holiday businesses popping up in Homewood
By Ginger Brashinger Correspondent November 27, 2013 6:58PM
Landlord Marty Arrivo speaks with temporary tenants Kathy Blakemore and Pauline Hilliard. | Ginger Brashinger~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 2, 2014 6:03AM
Several temporary businesses are about to appear in Homewood for the holidays, and business owners, shoppers and the village all stand to benefit.
At least that’s the hope as Homewood “Holiday Pop-up Shops” will be open for business through Dec. 21. Independent business owners will use vacant storefronts or share space with existing businesses, thus getting a chance to cash in at the most profitable time of year — while also offering shoppers some unique items they won’t find anywhere else.
The strategy fits perfectly with the village’s “shop local philosophy,” according to Homewood public relations and special events manager Rachael Jones, and it adds to the village’s already diverse retail mix.
“There’s no reason to leave town to shop,” Jones said.
In some cases, shoppers will have the unusual experience of shopping at several different businesses in the same store.
Kathy Blakemore, of Flossmoor; Pauline Hilliard, of Olympia Fields: and Carolyn Armstrong, of Flossmoor — the former owners of Poppies, a Flossmoor boutique — will partner with three other local independent business owners to open Poppies & Friends at 18100 Martin Ave.
Dodi Wians and Diane Green’s Wink & Belle, Wians’ Wear I Am, and Mary MacLeod’s Charmed by Mary will share the 1,100-square-foot space with the former Poppies owners to offer holiday and vintage gift items, child and adult clothing, accessories and handmade jewelry.
Blakemore, Hilliard and Armstrong, who said they had to close their doors in Flossmoor about six months ago after 11 years in business, are looking forward to once again having a storefront business — even if it’s just for a few weeks.
“This is such an intriguing idea,” Blakemore said. “In today’s world, small retail stores (find it) really hard to meet the rent.”
Jones said Poppies & Friends is one of about two dozen independent businesses that will fill vacant properties during the three-week holiday shopping time, renting space from landlords whose buildings might otherwise be empty.
Other businesses could benefit from the traffic generated by having a neighboring shop well-stocked and decorated for the holidays.
Mary Arrivo, owner of Homewood Florist, a family-owned business for 54 years, believes he is one of those landlords. Poppies and Friends will occupy Arrivo’s building next door.
“A temporary tenant might become a permanent tenant,” Arrivo said. At the very least, the space, which has been empty for the last 10 months, will have some activity over the holidays that may draw shoppers to his business, Arrivo said.
“I’m very excited,” Arrivo said. “Anytime you have a chance to bring more shoppers in, I’m all for it.”
Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld said the program is intended to have the dual purpose of filling an unoccupied space for a property owner — always a good thing for the village, too — and allowing a business owner to “get a flavor” of the business they could do in town.
“They might find out that Homewood is the place they want to be,” Hofeld said.
Jones said the idea has proved popular enough with independent business owners to fill all available vacant spaces. As a result, some businesses are serving as “hosts” to the independents.
The University of Chicago Children’s Lab School bookstore, The Bookies, which recently closed, will be hosted by Homewood’s World of Enrichment, 18035 Dixie Highway; and the Empanadus, a popular 2013 Homewood Fall Fest vendor, is “testing the waters” in Homewood, Jones said. It will be hosted by Global Fusion, 1961 Ridge Road.
Jones said research shows that for every $100 spent at an independent business, $68 goes back to the community, making the “pop-ups” beneficial for everyone.
“If you think about how many players are involved,” Jones said, “it’s a pretty big deal.”