Oak Park Leather, a furniture store coming to 810 North Blvd. that will allow customers to tweak designs to best fit their needs, plans to open in October.

Shop owner Michael Roche said a minimal build-out will be needed to transform the 3,600-square-foot space from its previous use as C. Foster Toys.

“We’re going to try to keep it very clean,” Roche said of the store’s design. “We’re going to let the furniture do the talking.”

Roche’s previous position with the State of Illinois Dept. of Revenue wasn’t what directed him into furniture sales. That distinction goes to the Leather Center, a nationwide furniture store where he spent more than a decade.

That company produced a similar product to what Roche plans to produce, but with a vastly different business model: Roche said Leather Center went belly up from “over-proliferation,” opening more than 100 stores nationwide.

His plan is to serve Oak Park and the region with “American-made fine leather furniture.” Designs of various styles will come in a choice of grades and shades of leather. The store will specialize in home theater seating.

Because the designs will be made to order by Roche’s former colleague (who specialized in manufacturing at Leather Center), delivery will take a few weeks, longer if someone wants to customize a design.

Roche said the store will offer a variety of designs that customers can then adjust to fit their homes, or even bodies. He said years ago he helped adjust a design to better suit a former Chicago Bulls basketball player.

Designs can also be altered to suite different tastes.

“If people are willing to pay, we can design anything they’re looking for,” he said.

The store’s basic designs will not be cheap. Sofas will use web support, which Roche said lasts longer than the spring suspension most brands use.

“If you invest wisely, if you purchase wisely, things will last longer in your house,” he said.

A ballpark figure for sofas is $2,000, depending on size and grade of leather.

Roche and his wife, a corporate trainer at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, live in Oak Park and wanted to own a business close to home.

He said his furniture store will complement other furniture- and design-related businesses on North Boulevard, as well as nearby restaurants. Roche expects Oak Park Leather to be a destination shop, drawing customers from Chicago and western suburbs.

CONTACT: dcarter@wjinc.com

Goelitz building has new owners

New owners of the building at the northwest corner of North Boulevard and Oak Park Avenue have familiar faces. The Lou Fabbri Group was sought to buy the Geolitz building, said Fabbri, who formerly owned the Niles and Mar Lac buildings at the corner of South Boulevard and Marion Street. Fabbri used to operate Mar Lac Banquets, too.

“I miss Oak Park,” Fabbri said. “I spent 35 years there. I’m still active in the Rotary Club and have friends there, so I still have to come down every now and then.”

Fabbri now operates Abbington Distinctive Banquets in Glen Ellyn. He and his partners were approached to buy the Goelitz building because it has similar needs as the Niles building, having been constructed within a year of each other “although this one is in much better shape,” Fabbri said.

Fabbri and his partners divided and sold the Niles building to Oak Park Jewelers (its space and the cleaners’ space to the south) and to Michael Pace, who will move La Bella to 1103 South Blvd. at the end of the year.

The Goelitz building houses Erik’s Delicatessen, 107 N. Oak Park Ave.; Logos Book Store, 101 N. Oak Park Ave.; and, coming soon, Oak Park Leather, 810 North Blvd. The new owners received the building with the second and third floors on the North Boulevard side gutted for rehab. Fabbri said he expects to finish the rehab and sell the units as residential condominiums.

No other changes for the building are planned, he said.

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