HobbyTown USA will close in early June, the latest in a string of longtime anchor businesses to announce pending closures.

“It’s hard, you know. We’ve been here for 10 years,” said owner Fred Henders.

But the business has been hurting for years. In July 2004, Henders tried to give up approximately one-third of the store by consolidating into two of the three storefronts HobbyTown occupies. However, a new tenant for the corner space was never found.

HobbyTown’s lease expires at the end of July, but the staff needs time to clear out the merchandise, Henders said.

Other factors influenced his decision to close the store, including imminent development in coming years. Across the street to the east, Chicago investors paid $9 million for the property that includes Certifiedland Grocery west to Original Pancake House on the corner and north to the village-owned parking garage. Development there will likely include rebuilding that garage, and will also likely disrupt business in the area, Henders said.

“For a while this area will be a dead zone,” he said.

Henders added that the property his building sits on?#34;from the corner west to just before the 1010 Lake St. building?#34;is part of the 1010 property. The building has a long-term ground lease that will expire in 7-8 years, he said, at which time the space will likely be redeveloped or turned into a public green space, as recommended by the Crandall Arambula Greater Downtown Master Plan.

“This building’s old,” Henders said. “It’s useful life has probably about run out.”

The Internet has sapped much of the sales of games and hobby merchandise HobbyTown USA carries. When it closes, “it’s gonna leave a bit of a hole in town,” Henders said.

But it’s not just a matter of where you can buy gaming items or model train equipment.

“There’s a community aspect to this place, and there always has been,” said Josh Brown, store manager and a HobbyTown employee for eight years. “Some people come in for the knowledge and experience and some just come in for the service and sarcasm.”

Brown, an actor, hopes to become a Chicago firefighter. The business also employs two near-full-time employees and a couple of extra hands for the weekends.

Henders has been operating a second business out of the HobbyTown basement the past five years, a military history book distribution business. When HobbyTown closes June 4, he and his wife will concentrate their efforts on running that business. In the meantime, everything in the store is 20 percent off, and discounts will grow as the closing date approaches.

Other longtime Oak Park businesses Logos and Val’s halla have announced upcoming closings after decades of business.

Thyme & Honey closes

Thyme & Honey Restaurant has closed its doors at 100 S. Oak Park Ave., with midsummer plans to reopen in Forest Park.

A sign announcing the closure was posted in the restaurant’s window on Monday, reading, “It’s been a glorious ride for the last 11 years, and we’re proud to have called Oak Park our home and Oak Parkers our friends!

The Forest Park space is next to Charter One Bank, which formerly used the space as its corporate headquarters. The space has never been used as a restaurant, Wednesday Journal reported in April.

Redevelopment plans for South Boulevard and Oak Park Avenue call for facade preservation and the addition of 80 condominiums by architect John Schiess and developer Alex Troyanovsky.

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