Brown Cow voted for better downtown event

As a business owner and a member of this community, I’d like to voice my opinion on the cancellation of Trick-or-Treat on Madison Street. I typically steer clear of expressing my opinion publicly over these things, however there have been comments made in the newspaper over the past few weeks which have struck a chord with me personally.

I built my business for families and children in Forest Park to provide a gathering ground for people of any age. I cater to the exact audience for which Trick-or-Treat on Madison Street was created. For three years I have opened my doors, poured out a lot of money in candy not only to the little ghouls and goblins in Forest Park and our surrounding communities, but to a lot of kids in street clothes and their parents who have come in from who knows where demanding free candy.

I, like the other businesses, learned my lesson early and set up camp outside my store to accommodate the crowds. Last year I gave away 2,500 pieces of candy and still had to turn people away. This is the volume of people that any festival would typically hope for.

I’m one of those few businesses on the street who would actually like to entice this particular crowd into my store to help translate some of this traffic into sales (because I am also a business.) I offered discounted hot chocolate and cider and wafted the smell of waffle cones into the street to no avail.

I felt Trick-or-Treat on Madison Street was a great tradition in Forest Park, but I too placed my vote to cancel the event this year in hopes to create something better in its place. Please believe me that, from a business perspective, this was not about losing money on a weekend during the holiday season, but it was about the value of the event.

I know that the Forest Park Main Street Association is working hard to create a wonderful fall festival in its place that will incorporate great activities for kids in the community and we look forward to participating.

I also know first hand that businesses in Forest Park give a lot to our community and have definitely not forgotten where we all started as suggested by some of the letters. We are all privately owned shops who have opened our doors to sell goods and services in Forest Park because we love this town and we love what we do in hopes of making a living at it. Like many of the other businesses, I’m grateful to have loyal customers who have spread the word about my parlor, which has resulted in a tremendous increase in customers and media attention. More than 80 percent of my customers come from outside our village and provide tax revenue that goes directly back into our community.

Like other businesses, The Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor gives away thousands of dollars each year in auction items, donations and door prizes to local organizations to raise money for the services they provide in this community. Many of us are also intimately involved in community organizations outside of running our businesses–The United Way, Hugs Not Drugs, religious organizations, the community center, etc.

It breaks my heart that businesses on Madison Street are being portrayed in the paper as only out to make a buck when the decision in our mind was that we could find a way to provide a more valuable experience all around for the people who have helped make us successful.

Connie Brown, The Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor
Forest Park

‘Neighborly’ column in poor taste

“What’s this one?” That was the question Mohinder Sharma asked repeatedly as his van was loaded each Tuesday night for deliveries. And that’s the question I ask now-what’s this-the only mention of a co-worker’s death in our papers is a sad story about how a neighborhood might look better because of his passing? How sad and embarrassing.

Two weeks ago Mohinder Sharma died after completing his deliveries for our company. As we in the circulation department mourn his death, we have been struck by how little we know about a very private man. He emigrated from India during the 1970s, and he has family both here in the States and in India. We know that he worked multiple jobs and provided support to his extended family so that their children could get a good education.

The people who have filled in for Mohinder (note the plural) in the last two weeks have reported back that our customers have expressed sorrow and surprise at his sudden death. He was affectionately know as the “Hi, guy” man to some for his greeting each week. I am still waiting for the familiar sound of our office back door opening and closing and then looking up as Mo says “how are you, ma’am?”

An energetic negotiator, Mo and I had our disagreements. But he was one of the hardest working, most reliable drivers that we have.

Humorous stories abound about how the young men in our department, all Midwesterners to the core, and our Indian driver interacted across cultural and generational divides. They found one another quite frustrating at times, hilarious at others. But particularly touching were the multiple phone calls and dedicated trips to the office that Mo made when one of these young men left the company for another job. Mo came in solely to dispense “great uncle” advice about how to succeed at this new job-to dress well, be on time, etc.

Mo, we miss you. I think I’ll take a cup of tea in your honor while I consider painting my office passive-aggressive pink.

Kathy Hansen
Oak Park

Editor’s note: Kathy Hansen is the circulation manager for the Forest Park Review

 

Retailers serve the community well

Mr. Gray’s recent letter to the editor (Oct. 25) would have you believe that a select few retailers were behind the cancellation of Trick-or-Treat on Madison. The Main Street Redevelopment Association sponsored this event, not individual retailers. I’m sure any cancellation of the event would have to have been approved by the group’s board of directors.

Moreover, in an article in the Forest Park Review (Oct. 18), Joe Locke, treasurer of Main Street said the organization lost $600 on the event last year. This did not include the tens of thousands of dollars in candy provided by the Madison Street retailers and our very own Ferrara Pan Candy. No not-for-profit organization can afford to lose that kind of money on their events and expect to keep their doors open, so how can anyone blame them for their decision.

Of course I find it particularly interesting that Mr. Gray is not on the Main Street Board of Directors, nor is he on the Forest Park Chamber’s Board of Directors. Perhaps if he wasn’t so busy penning letters to the Forest Park Review, he might have a little more time to become involved in these organizations and help guide their future decisions.

In the last few years Madison Street has seen the arrival of some extremely dynamic business owners who have taken the marketing approach of our street to a whole new level. We’ve seen an explosion of new and different businesses locating to our street and this is very exciting.

People like Mr. Gray and Mayor Anthony Calderone who think canceling the Trick-or-Treat on Madison was a big mistake should spend one day in the retail business. These new business owners have worked hard to raise the profile of Forest Park, they serve on the board of directors for Main Street and/or the Forest Park Chamber and they believe in giving back to our community. Sometimes change is difficult and decisions like canceling the Trick-or-Treat on Madison are disappointing, but I for one am confident that these new retailers will always support Forest Park and the people who live here.

Mary Kay Minaghan
Forest Park

Forum for new candidates

Please join us next Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Brown Cow and meet the new candidates for village council. The Brown Cow is offering free coffee and half-priced ice cream to all registered voters for this event. This is an opportunity to meet and ask questions of the people that may be leading our village over the next four years. John Plepel and Rory Hoskins have already committed to attending. Any other new candidates that would like to be a part of the event can email me at plepel2007@hotmail.com. We hope to see you all there.

John Plepel
Forest Park

Bar owner scolds commissioner

I read with interest my wife’s letter last week. She called me childish? I will have to talk to her about that, but she is probably right.

Then again, she wasn’t the one the gesture was made to. Patrick Doolin instigated this whole stupid mess and then compounded the whole thing by having his buddy not only have me arrested but tried to have the charges raised to a felony. In a way I feel sorry for Lt. Johnsen. In the past, we have been not necessarily friends but always friendly to each other, but he did not do the right thing. He was told that no crime was committed. I barely even raised my voice to Doolin, as witnesses have testified to. But still had officer Harrison arrest me.

Now we have two lawsuits, which most of you would have filed had you been in my position, and hearings that are going to cost the village a fortune. Am I sorry that this has all come about? Of course I am, as Mr. Doolin should be. He knows what he did to initiate this whole thing but still tries to take my livelihood away. Shame on you Patrick Doolin. You want to be mayor? This is how you are going to treat your business owners?

Yes, my type of business is not everyone’s favorite, but I have rights as does everyone else. Mr. Doolin tried to stomp on them.

In 21 years in Forest Park I have donated my time and money to a lot of people and causes in town, as a lot of you know. We at Doc’s have raised over $300,000 for Maryville and Misercordia alone. I have over the years probably paid over $1 million in sales tax, which helps everyone in this town. And the man who wants to be king is going to take that away because I called him a name. Come on Patrick, what are you thinking?

Jim Shaw
River Forest