The Old School Records (file).

Some Forest Park Madison Street merchants are cautiously optimistic about this year’s holiday shopping season, based on sales last weekend for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Sunday.

Retail sales dropped nationally as a whole the weekend after Thanksgiving, according to the National Retail Federation. Total spending fell 11.3 percent compared to last year. But that was at the big retailers.

The story was different in Forest Park.

“The store was jam-packed Saturday,” said Jodi Gianakopoulos of The Old School Records, 7446 Madison St. “We doubled our sales from last year on Saturday and Sunday [after Thanksgiving]. Everyone who was walking down the street seemed to stop in.”

 Augie Aleksy at Centuries and Sleuths had a crowd Nov. 29 for national “Independents Day,” featuring in-store appearances by 18 local history and mystery authors. Saturday’s event bumped Aleksy’s November sales up 20 percent, he said. The key is getting people in the door, he said. “To survive you have to be creative,” he added.

Antique sellers Steven and Gloria Backman manned booths at the Forest Park Emporium, 7345 Madison St. and were swamped Friday. 

“Lots of people coming in from out of town. We thought no one would show up, they’d all be at the malls,” Steve Backman said. Sellers appreciated that the Emporium was Holiday-music-free, he added.

Friday was the strongest day for fashion boutique deedee and edie, 7415 Madison St., said owner Deb Dworman. Shoppers were lured in by 40 percent shoe and boot discounts.

“It was pandemonium. We rang $5,000 on Friday and $10,000 the whole weekend.”

“Lots of people came in specifically because it was Small Business Saturday,” said Yearbook’s Noel Eberline.  “The shopping ‘vibe’ is very positive and we’re hopeful that it will continue.” Yearbook is at 7316 Madison St.

“We did see a big jump in business Saturday,” said Anne Dowd of Refind Home, 7511 Madison St. “The weather was certainly cooperating.”

Lisa Dodge of American Artworks Gallery, 7314 Madison St., summarized the weekend as “pretty good Friday and Saturday.”

Jodi Gianakopoulos said she thought buy-local campaigns were working.

“I always say, start with your local guy. Give that retailer the push they need to keep ordering through the season, and then go to the door-busters,” she said.

“The little ma-and-pa businesses are the backbone of the country. You can always go to Target any time. Start your shopping with us.”

Ashley Lisenby contributed to this report.


Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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