Forest Park’s business community has developed a very real, very tangible quality that may help it navigate the pitching seas of the U.S. economy. Regular readers and astute shoppers are already familiar with the theme of cooperative capitalism that sets Madison Street merchants apart from other business owners in neighboring hoods. It is our opinion that as more newcomers to Forest Park discover this dynamic, the chances for surviving – and thriving – increase.

While we were out pounding the pavement, talking to business owners about the state of affairs, there were two themes that were oft repeated: It’s rough. We’ll get through it. Those sentiments can probably be found in any business district across the suburbs, but the difference in Forest Park is in how entrepreneurs intend to stick it out. By and large, business owners here recognize there is strength in both competition and collaboration. This is why Terri Budzyn at Krazy About Kids was less than thrilled to hear that a nearby children’s clothing store had closed. She understands that the more options customers have in Forest Park, the more likely they are to be in Forest Park.

We also spoke with Julia Archer, who plans to open a new business on Madison in the coming months. Archer pointed specifically to the cooperative energy in Forest Park as a reason for choosing this community over others. “I want to be around people who are going to be supportive rather than limiting,” she told us.

There are many businesses in Forest Park that are worthy of your support. Now is the time to look local, first.