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As a former Oak Park resident who visits Oak Park once or twice a week, I remember not Lane Bryant but Nothing in Moderation, though I never shopped there. While I am offended that a village President gets to personally veto a retail business, the aspect of this story that really interests me is the “pre-approved” retail list. The fact that Avenue was on the list implies that it’s not about fat women, per se. What makes Lane Bryant different? I think the moment is long due for President Pope to explain his personal animus against Lane Bryant. Tell us, in detail, in what way this particular retailer is not of the kind befitting the Village? And please hurry. I have some shopping to do and need this answer to decide where my credit card and I are welcome.
Bonnie Gibbons

I am writing in response to the Lane Bryant issue. I am writing to echo what I have heard over and over again this week. No, we don’t want Lane Bryant to move to Lake Street, not b/c we are discriminating against the clientle, but we won’t shop there. We need to bring stores to Lake that appeal to a wide range of people. We need to bring stores to Lake that would attract people to Oak Park. We need to make it affordable for entrepeneurs, but also appealing to big names. We need a Pottery Barn, William-Sonoma, or Crate and Barrell. We would love a Banana Republic (men/women) or a JCrew clothing store.
Erin Zimmer

Nobody seems to remember that Lane Bryant was on the south side of Lake Street 30 plus years ago.   Shoppers that want this type of shop take their business to Riverside, Oak Brook, and Harlem-Irving shopping Centers.  While there, they shop for other things.  A friend of mine goes to Oak Brook for Lane Bryant ONLY.
Jean Heyes

It is more than a shame that Oak Park has not been able to keep and attract unique businesses in the village.  Lane Bryant, etc. is just another step to making Oak Park “Any(every) town, USA” with the exact same stores every few blocks no matter what neighborhood we’re in.  We’re looking to Forest Park to maintain our interest in the area.  The Village should be putting energy and resources into developing entrepreneurs with some sense of creativity!
Susan  Nadis

All I ask for is a little consistency. If  the Village is going to encourage Tasty Dog and numerous ice cream joints then we have to know that eating all those burgers, fries, shakes and cones is going to cause our citizenry to get bigger and have need for Lane Bryant’s clothes. Also, who knew that as Village trustee you got to decide which stores went where. I had no idea. What other undisclosed powers do these birds have? Can they make the police wear cowboy hats? I get up early. Can they make the Lake show movies at 7AM? If so then I want to run for office.
John Hubbuch

So RSC is spinning the “Lame Bryant” (not a typo) deal into the ridiculous assertion that Oak Park discriminates against fat women. Do the so-called “journalists” who have wasted precious column space by allowing themselves to be manipulated by RSC have any idea of Oak Park’s history? I hope the readers of this paper and the retail customers of the Oak Park mall will respond to this issue and to the store once it opens with exactly what it deserves: total indifference.
John McCarthy

It would be wonderful to have Lane Bryant back on Lake Street. Remember years ago when Lake Street was not a destination to shop anymore and businesses were leaving for lack of business? Lane Bryant had been a fixture and left for Oak Brook, because that’s where people were going. They want to come back and that my friends is a good sign.
Liz Houha

The actions by the Village of Oak Park are inexusible. The reason Pope gave for not allowing Lane Bryant to have a business in Oak Park is because the Dress Barn is near by. Competition is what makes Capitalism great. How many beauty shops are in downtown Oak Park? Fast food restaurants? Pope needs to come clean with the reason why he does not want Lane Bryant in Oak Park. That being said, Pope has shown that he does not possess the skills required to fulfill the duties to be the President of Oak Park. Therefore, Pope needs to find another career since he is obviously incompetent as the President of Oak Park.

By the way, if he would like to debate this issue with me, I have provided my email address to schedule an appointment. However, he will not debate the issue because he does not have the backbone to defend his decision. In addition, he lacks the brain power to debate the issue.
Shaun Markwardt

Despite the best efforts of President Pope to explain the reasoning behind refusing Lane Bryant as a retailer in Downtown Oak Park the first impressions are hard to undo.  My initial reaction had me a bit stunned as it came across as a narrow-minded, uninformed, discriminatory and snobbish decision. I am yet to be swayed away from that view.  With shops at Harlem & Lake for women’s clothing being provided by Old Navy, The Gap, Spauldings,Ann Taylor Loft, Chico’s, Talbot’s and the Dress Barn; Lane Bryant is the perfect compliment and is a welcome addition so all women have diverse range of shopping options.
Mary O’Grady

I think we can turn a phrase on what Ernest Hemingway thought of Oak Park. “Broad lawns and narrow behinds” seems to fit for what the village is doing to Lane Bryant
Tom DiBlasi

I believe they should let Lane Bryant in.  Competition with Dress Barn shouldn’t stop them.  Having competing businesses nearby is a common occurrence in American life.  There are many women who are size 14 or above, which is the size the store caters to.
Mary Molloy

I think the town of Oak Park is just picking on the “not so pretty people”…samrt up lost of us “big girls” love to shop ans spend money so it will only hurt your town taxes in the long run..shame on you oak park…..boooooo
Lois A Crutcher

If I was in  charge of Lane Bryant I wouldn’t even want a store in that LIBERAL Town.  Anyone that puts the Boy Scouts out and creats their own group is not very tolerant.  It’s either their way or the highway.  I would move my family out of that town in a heart beat.
Mary Davis

This “side” of the story is a crock!  So it is OK to have 50 “regular sized” stores in a given area but having 2 “plus size’ stores on the same block is totally unacceptable?  Where is the logic in that?
Kelly Soprych

I am embarrassed by Martha Brock’s pandering to the press on this issue…she voted against the Lane Bryant store, yet has been slamming Oak Park on a national scale as an uninclusive village ever since…she needs to look in the mirror on this one, not in the camera lens.  I voted for Trustees who would conduct the business of this village in an honest and trustworthy fashion, and who would represent the village honorably.  Not for those who would betray the village for their own promotion.  I believe her resignation would be appropriate at this time.
Cindy Von Oehsen

I saw the TV and print coverage including the Wednesday Journal piece “Full story not being told on Lane Bryant” I ‘d like to offer my recollection and attempt to correct in part Mr. Pope’s depiction of the previous village board’s discussion regarding RSC and potential retail tenants.

I recall that the village board sought consensus regarding the development at 1120 Lake Street which included, (if memory serves) 3 or 4 ground and/or street level retail spaces.

I recall that Mr. Pope indicated then and appears to be reiterating now that Lane Bryant was not a retail enterprise he thought an appropriate fit for Downtown Oak Park.

Former Trustee Diane  Carpenter attempted to assure Trustee Pope that Lane Bryant was a quality tenant and did fill a clothing niche for shoppers. Unfortunately, Trustee Pope was unconvinced. However, in order to arrive at a reasonable  compromise, and appease Trustee Pope, who also indicated that he might  oppose moving forward with the retail  agreement if Lane Bryant was considered,   the Village Board created a preferred list of retail tenants (sans Lane Bryant) and indicated to RSC that  should it desire to lease to a potential tenant not on the preferred list, RSC must return to the Village Board for approval.

It appears that RSC returned to the Village Board for approval to lease to a tenant not on the preferred list as previously agreed to.

It should be apparent that clothing retailers and other providers and merchants are vital to Downtown Oak Park and provide multiple shopping opportunities and a synergy with other retailers on the street.

If anything Dress Barn and Lane Bryant are perfectly compatible and have the capacity to draw shoppers from the surrounding communtiies.

When you look at Oak Park’s Harlem and Lake  and Avenue shopping  centers, you expect to see a variety of retailers offering their products and services. Retailers expect competition and generally will tell you that they thrive on competition, it makes for good business. To discount Lane Bryant or any other successful clothier just doesn’t make good business sense.
Additionally, offering Lane Bryant and RSC the services of DTOP and OPDC ostensibly to identify locations other than Downtown Oak Park misses the point.

To offer the services of Downtown Oak Park to identify areas other than Downtown Oak Park seems misplaced.

The free market can generally determine whether or not a clothier or any other enterprise will do well. In this case, the retailer has identified downtown Oak Park as the place to be because Lane Bryant recognizes the desirability of the Oak Park area market.

Finally, the development agreement is between the Village of Oak Park and RSC.

To engage in a discussion about other locations in Oak Park with Lane Bryant to the exclusion of RSC seems misguided.

It just seems that litigation is the unintended consequence of trying to restrict the free market.
Joanne Trapani

I would LOVE to see a Lane Bryant open up in Oak Park. As a “plus” sized gal, it’s hard to find cute clothes at the boutique shops in the village in my size.   I doubt I’m the only Oak Park girl who drives to Oak Brook or North Riverside to visit this retailer. It would be a shame to see an obviously interested store not open here, but maybe go to the River Forest shopping center instead and see that revenue slip away!
Emily Collins

Let’s get the principals and parties directly involved in this Lane Bryant mess to sit down at the table.

At the table, discern what is doable or not doable, and for what studied reasons. From that table conversation, make a list of what’s real and what’s not. The list is an exercise in realism, consistent with good government working to ensure good community development.

The Lane Bryant lawsuit may mean already that the mess will likely get worse. The lawsuit may cost tax dollars that need instead to be spent making community improvements.

Why otherwise sit down at table like this?

Because once again the strong winds of prevailing civic discourse have suddenly somehow picked up more speed, rapidly intensifying at the extremes into alarming and tornado-like forces of either absolute rejection or all-embracing acceptance.

Either/or assertions or reactions lack a sense of moderating restraint.

Identity politics (in this case, outrage from the plus-sized and their supporters) rears its ugly head of polarization. Sheesh!

Polarizing issues have now called out of lethargy citizens who are heading out in blistering directions to weigh in, demanding to be heard now, absolutely, out of turn, no matter what has happened during the last two years of negotiations.

In the swirling heat of summer, cooler heads ought to prevail. They should mitigate the confusion in order to minimize unnecessary upheaval. Get it all down on paper. Make a list of the whys and why-nots. Be clear. And execute the plan based on the list.

Sit down together and get it done!
Jim Boushay & Rickey Sain

Why would I believe what Pope says. O.P. is notorious for dicouraging practical businesses and promoting useless knic-knack shops
Jerrie Poulosophos

If the village feels that Lane Bryant would be “a very positive addition to the community” then why not let them utilize the space they want? I feel that if it was next to an Ice Cream Shop on Chicago Ave. or Oak Park Ave the village wouldn’t have a problem with it but because it is next to a health club skinny people might be offended. If we can only have one women’s clothing store in an area then we should have only one Italian, pizza, family dining restaurant in every area. Or one book store.

If Lane Bryant can’t make it at that sight then it will move out and the space can be rented to someone else. Who makes the decision on which retailer gets on the “village’s accepted list”? Do you ask the people that live here? Can we see who the village feels is acceptable? 
Carolyn Quaid

Lane Bryant would be a good addition to Oak Park.  I would still shop at Dress Barn becuase I am not a plus size.  Also Dress Barn is a chain, so I don’t feel the same impetus to protect them as I would a local independant retailer.  Oak Park has a long way to go to combatting its image of not being business friendly.
Joyce Porter

Mr. Pope’s defensive comments do not address the quotes from Mr. Wiggins that Lane Bryant doesn’t fit “the kind and quality of shop befitting of the Village”

What is the truth? Do they WANT Lane Bryant, but do they want it in a less visible location where plus size women won’t be seen cavorting on the streets?
Karen Skinner

Please convey to Lane Bryant that Forest Park would welcome the store with open arms just as we have welcomed so many other businesses from Oak Park.
Barbara Plona

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