Penzeys closure opens door for larger retailer

Space marketed as stand-alone or in combination with adjacent properties

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Penzeys Spices, 1138 Lake St., has announced it is closing its doors later this month, but the closure could result in a larger retail operation in the popular commercial corridor.

Penzeys, which announced last month that April 27 will be its last day at the 3,550-square-foot location, did not return calls requesting an interview, but a spokeswoman said in an email that the company is in the process of looking for a new location.

"We have some exciting ideas on where we'll open in the area," the email notes. A sign on the door of the business states that the company will "update our catalogue and website when we have further news to share. Thanks for the years of support, and we hope you stick with us as we find our new home."

Brendan Reedy, a retail broker with Cushman & Wakefield who is marketing the space, said in a telephone interview that the spice shop could be leased on its own or in any combination with the vacant 3,196-square-foot Sprint store next door and the 9,400-square-foot office space to the rear that once served as headquarters for the Pioneer Press Oak Leaves newspaper.

"You can combine Penzeys with that office space to create an opportunity that is approximately 16,146 square feet," Reedy said. "So there is a way that we can provide a retailer or a restaurant with approximately 16,000 square feet with Lake Street frontage."

Reedy could not speculate as to why Penzeys, which has been on Lake Street for approximately 10 years, is closing but added, "I would suspect that the problem with Penzeys is not the real estate."

The Sprint store has been vacant for more than a year, he said, and the building has been "through a pretty rough journey" in the last year.

"It was sold at auction out of foreclosure about a year ago or less," Reedy said. "Maybe that is the reason Sprint is not a tenant." 

He added it could be several months before a new tenant signs a lease, but the space is available immediately.

"We're pursuing a number of retailers and restaurants," he said. "We just brought the opportunity to market, and we've gotten a good response from a wide variety of retailers and restaurants."


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Violet Janus from Oak park  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 11:00 PM

How about sleeps. I always wanted to be the guy standing out front wearing the placard announcing a 25% discount as traffic goes by. I say bring back the Afro braiding store and the furrier

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 9:50 PM

I have an idea. 16,000 feet of wigs would be awesome on Lake Street and would serve a demographic who don't have access to the wig stores on Madison with fantastic access to public transportation. Promise the Trustees some green space and more wigs are a slam dunk for Oak Park. No issue with parking downtown because retail is dead in our village..

Mike S from Oak Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 1:59 PM

What Forest Park has over Oak Park: 1. Ample street parking. People don't like pulling in a garage and driving up and down just to get cinnamon. 2 (sort of) fewer traffic problems. If you are sane, you don't drive down Lake Street because it takes 20 minutes. We need better signal timing. 3. No retail only restrictions. FP has the Sylvan learning center, Dr offices and other things mixed in. It brings people to the area who then walk around. Fewer vacancies makes it more attractive.


Posted: April 7th, 2014 11:04 AM

I do hope John Hedges and the OPDC are actively working to keep Penzeys in Oak Park. This store would be a great start to the revival of Madison Street.

Daniel James  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 6:57 AM

I see the cross-corner strip mall in their future. The biggest problem that the new ownership of the building wants a bigger tenant. The Sprint store did a pretty good business from what I could tell. I'm not sure why Penzeys couldn't just find something down the street more space-appropriate for their store. There's plenty of places.

Reilly from Forest park  

Posted: April 5th, 2014 9:22 AM

Love Penzeys. Hope they relocate to Forest Park.

Susan Carroll  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 4:26 PM

We are encouraged to shop locally but there is not a lot to actually buy .. How about retailers that sell things we need or want instead of another restaurant, nail or hair salon or other service store?


Posted: April 4th, 2014 4:09 PM

If someone wanted 16,000 square feet of Oak Park frontage, THEY WOULD HAVE LEASED THE BORDERS/FIELDS NEXT DOOR!


Posted: April 4th, 2014 3:44 PM

What ever happened to Sleepy's that was supposed to move into the old Marshall Field store?


Posted: April 4th, 2014 12:46 PM

The new tenant will appreciate the larger combined space to properly display all their mattresses.

Midge Cogan from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 11:00 AM

What is it about Oak Park landlords that they do not support local businesses? As I understand it, Penzey's was surprised when their lease was not renewed. I love Penzey's store. I love the founder's philosophy of cook to love, love to cook. Families sitting down to the table for a meal. From what I read, the realtor wants to link the long vacant Sprint store with Penzey's to make room for a large restaurant. Oh great, while we wait, that will be two more empty storefronts on Lake Streee

Crumbling town  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 8:48 PM

correction; i DID like seeing the high end store.

Crumbling town  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 8:47 PM

To be honest, I always walk past this store, but never go in. I really have no need foe spices, and I'm not sure how a store that puts all it's eggs in one basket can survive for so long (look at Crumbs). I didn't like seeing that there was a somewhat high end store in that location though. It's fun how the article puts a positive spin on another loss on Lake st. Yeah, big win for Oak Park! Maybe we should loose more stores, then we'd have even more potential!

DEEZ from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 5:13 PM

So does this mean that we get to buy spices for 60-90% off?

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 6:45 PM

I will miss Penzey's as I have missed Two Fish.

Tom Gull from Oak Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 5:47 PM

Shop local! But really, how much room does a spice store need? And why couldn't they add other kitchen merchandise like measuring spoons for their spices. That would keep shoppers from going to bed bath and beyond or Flavour. For all the kudos in FP, what happened to Two Fish, constant restaurant turnover at Des Plaines and Madison, etc....

Don Anderson from Oak Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 5:32 PM

Forest Park has no magic bullet. They have their fair share of vacant retail and failed businesses. What they do have is basically one primary business district, where Oak Park has multiple business districts... And what they have is spread out. Oak Parker's do a fine job supporting businesses and some businesses come and go.


Posted: April 2nd, 2014 4:52 PM

Totally agree that FP is getting it right and we're not - I wish I understood why that is the case. Madison has a very charming mix of mom-and-pop restaurants, bars and boutiques that you can't experience anywhere else. DTOP has a Gap and a Pier 1 ... snooze ...

MC from Oak Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 4:37 PM

Perhaps we should be taking a serious look at what our neighbors in Forest Park are doing to attract and keep their great businesses along Madison Avenue. Let's swallow our pride and get some ideas from a community who is doing it right and thriving. I grew up in Oak Park and remember Lake Street back in it's heyday. It's sad to see what it's become. With a few exceptions, it's not very impressive. We could be doing so much better. Come on Oak Park!!

Penzeys customer  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 3:41 PM

@Don one of the benefits of brick and mortar is if you want to actually get your hands on merchandise. In this case, it helps to smell spices and different varieties of cinnamon, etc.. We thought the space was wonderful and are happy to hear that they will find another location in the area.

ccrider from CT  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 3:07 PM

Agree with Andy, OP talks a great game but rarely put its $$ where it belongs, spent on local businesses. Not a profitable town to do business. Penzey's will find a better location.

Don Anderson from Oak Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 2:56 PM

It would seem to me that the Penzey store was twice as large as it needed to be. Lots of excess space, which added to the rent cost vs. sales. On top of that, I am not even sure a store like that is viable in the modern world. When you can sell online and ship using USPS in a day from the warehouse in Milwaukee, what does Penzeys even need a storefront for?

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 2:07 PM

@Puzzled: Possibly the cost of doing business is high,,taxes,congestion,crime perception, parking and the location is not prime.

andy freivogel from oak park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 1:53 PM

the problem is Oak Parkers. As a village, we talk a big game about wanting to support new businesses (check out all the disingenuous BS about wanting to lure new businesses in regards to the Noon Whistle debacle), but we FAIL TO SUPPORT THE SMALL BUSINESSES WE HAVE. Instead of holding out for another chain, go buy something at a local retailer before it closes.

Puzzled from Oak Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 1:18 PM

Is the cost to do business down there absurdly high or something? This is a prime location. Why is it so hard to get something there?

OP Resident  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 10:58 AM

Another example in the long storied history of Oak Park not being able to hang on to quality retailers.


Posted: April 2nd, 2014 10:57 AM

I heard about this a few weeks ago and am really disappointed as we are big Penzey's fans. I hope they are encouraged to stay in the neighborhood.

love to cook from Oak Park   

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 9:26 AM

LOVE this store! Hopefully you find a new home in the area; Penzey's has the BEST soup base!

alissa from oak park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 9:03 AM

Why??? Please don't close Penzeys. We love you.

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