In a recent article from ChicagoBusiness.com, the rise and potential fall of Chicago’s chic shopping districts is chronicled. Starting with Tricia Tunstall‘s 1997 opening of p45, and its following success, boutiques have invaded areas like Bucktown, and what was an "emerging neighborhood of young artists, trendy restaurants and packed pubs" soon became a center for the fashion crowd. Tunstall describes the Bucktown boutiques’ early success: "We were the driving force of retail in the beginning," Ms. Tunstall says. "We were new, interesting and we were cool."
But what happens to small stores in this recession? Chicago’s retail numbers had been higher than average, but "because of a variety of factors, including increased competition
and a weak economy, that boom now threatens to become a bust.
Independent shops are suffering. Early winners such as Jade, Raizy and
Josephine have been shuttered, and many boutique owners across Chicago
say they are worried."
Now, big stores are sweeping in to save Chicago’s shopping… or are they in fact the nail in the coffin for what was an edgy shopping district? At Tunstall’s Damen location, she’s now joined by Nannette Lepore, Club Monaco, Marc Jacobs and Intermix, among others. What other problems face the boutique these days? Well, besides bigger retailers and the economy in general, rising rents, competing for brands, and even other boutiques have become issues for small retailers. Read more about the struggle here.
But Tunstall, who has been around for a while, is ultimately hopeful and ready to take on the next stage of her store. "There’s always that little bit of fear of what’s next," she says. "The
big word is change. When you see change happening, you have to change."