The Woodstock Square is losing another store. The Northwest Herald carried an article last week that English Rose Clothes Boutique, 106 N. Benton Street, is closing. In an interview with the Herald’s Kurt Begalka, English Rose owner Mrs. Dahl explained the reason for the closing is a planned move to Florida for her husband’s health. That, “and a pending rent increase…”
And there is the death knell for the Square. High (and ever-increasing) rents, super-high property taxes in McHenry County, high utility expenses, high maintenance and repair costs on old buildings, inconvenient (and little) parking, and low motivation of customers to walk a block or two (or three) from available parking, little attraction for customers to come to the Square and, more importantly, to return often after a first visit, all combine to present grave threats to the viability of the Square.
Advertising Woodstock as a “destination” doesn’t make it so. Just as advertising Pike’s Peak as the highest mountain in Colorado doesn’t make it so. There are quite a number of “fourteeners” that are higher than Pike’s Peak (but not so well advertised!).
Are the problems reversible? Yes. In the time to save current store owners? Maybe.
The Woodstock Downtown Business Association is going to try. It has a solid core of concerned merchants and residents. It will take more than that. It will take the interest of everyone in Woodstock. There is no time to stand back and wait.
It will take investment by all. By merchants. By property owners. By customers. By the City. When you are shopping on the Square or in Woodstock and not finding what you want to buy, don’t just truck off to Crystal Lake or Randall Road. Contact the WDBA and tell them what you wanted to buy in Woodstock and that you didn’t find it (or find it at a reasonable price).
Will you pay $1 more, $5 more, to buy in Woodstock? What’s the cost (time, mileage, wear-and-tear on your car, dings and dents from huge shopping center parking lots) to go out-of-town to buy? Is it worth it?
In the past I have complimented downtown Naperville. The WDBA ought to plan a visit to Naperville on a summer evening. Sidewalks are crowded; stores are open; stores are full of shoppers and browsers. And visit other revived small-town centers. Find out what they did to create a vibrant, thriving business community.