My name is Valeria Davidson, and I am one of the owners of Bugaboo Shoes and The Rocking Horse Boutique, and I have to say that I disagree with the petition that is circulating on the Internet to keep the mall. As a business owner for over eight years, I have witnessed firsthand what our downtown has become. Please, for those of you who think we should keep the mall, re-think your position. It is not that we, as merchants, don’t want the mall any longer. What we want is a viable downtown with access to a greater number of people passing through our town.
Opening up the Marion Street mall is long overdue in our downtown. I have lived in Oak Park all my life. I graduated from OPRF High School (class of 1980). It was my dream to live and own a business in my hometown. I still am a proud owner of a small business in Oak Park’s downtown shopping district. And that is what downtown Oak Park should be, a retail shopping district with access to all of our customers, not just pedestrians. We have long needed suitable parking and a facelift to this area. If we are to survive as a shopping destination, we need to move forward.
This means change. This is not always a bad thing. We, as merchants, have been very involved in the whole process, from conception to completion. As I see it, opening the mall will allow people who travel on Lake Street from out west to see our beautifully renovated downtown. This means more people to enjoy our lovely village. If you go there now, you will see a ghost town.
We need to revitalize this area, not hold on to the past. The plans for the downtown area are a wonderful tribute to the grace and majesty that was once downtown Oak Park in it’s heyday. Let’s embrace this change with open arms. All the renderings that I have seen are breathtaking. It will make our little village the envy of other small towns across the country. Remember what Oak Park was. We can be that again and more. You can move forward and not cling to something that is outdated and does not contribute to the beauty of Oak Park.
A few people should not stop what we here as merchants clearly want and have worked very hard to achieve. This is our plea to all who have signed that petition. If you owned a business in this district, you would have a better understanding of what we all are trying to do. After all, this is being done so we can bring more stores to our residents.
Co-owner/partner, Rocking Horse Boutique