Downtown Forest Park lost two of its retail shops this month with the closure of American Artworks Gallery and women’s clothing store Deedee & Edee.
Deb Dworman, owner of Deedee & Edee, 7415 W. Madison St., said she always aimed to close the store after about 10 years — she’s planning to move to Seattle to be closer to family — but she noted that sales have been slow for the last 4-5 years.
She said the closure of several other businesses over the last several years — Flavour Cooking School and House Red Vinoteca closed in 2015 and Two Fish Art Glass in 2011 — slowed foot traffic on Madison, resulting in fewer customers coming into Deedee & Edee.
“Two Fish went several years ago, but it all has an impact,” she said, noting that it was a “huge loss” for the retail corridor.
Dworman, a former president of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce, said restaurants in the area also are a good attraction for shoppers, “but a lot of times people going out to eat are not shopping.
“Restaurants are good, but they’re not good enough to drive our business,” she said.
Dworman plans to leave for Seattle by the end of the year. The remainder of items left following the shop’s last day earlier this month were donated to Fox Valley Women’s Transitional Center, which prepares female ex-offenders to return to ordinary life after serving time in prison.
American Artworks Gallery, 7314 W. Madison St., which offered the work of local artists, also closed in January, but owner Lisa Dodge said she’s not leaving because of slumping sales but because she’s sick of the cold Illinois winters.
Dodge opened the shop seven years ago.
“It has nothing to do with the rent; it’s a personal choice,” she said. “I am sad about leaving the artists and customers.”
Dodge said she’s headed to the warmer climes of Charleston, South Carolina.
“I want to do something totally different,” she said.