Losing Independents | Letters | Chicago Reader

Losing Independents 

Dear Reader,

Why mince words? More often than not the Reader does a feature article on a business that is on its last legs. In your March 9, 2001, issue, your Section Two feature story [Culture Club] concerned the closing of Toshiro, a longtime member of independent clothing retailers. In addition to Toshiro, you also lamented the closing of three other independents, Hot Damn, I'm Lu, and Vintage Fiber Works. Sure, anyone can kick a dog while it's down.

Your article is too little way too late. Why not, as you do with restaurants, write a little article about an independent store or small arts group? Perhaps you could call it "the last of the independents." There are so many great stores for readers to discover: Big Brother Video, Zap Props and Antiques, and the Mystery Spot.

Independent stores, restaurants, and arts are what make a city great and what separates Chicago from other midwestern cities. With rents increasing dramatically, it is harder for independents to open up. Most landlords are waiting for a new Starbucks. You need to promote the ones that exist and nurture potential other ones. Sure the Reader can pass the buck onto someone else regarding the demise of independents (landlords, developers, and the city are usually good targets), but why not take the high road and start to feature us before it is too late? We need your help, not your obituaries.

Jay Schwartz

Strange Cargo

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