The Retail Warehouse Sale will be held on Saturday, February 17 from 11am - 5pm at the Nineteenth Century Club in Oak Park

The holiday crowds went home.  People are starting diets, paying off their credit card debt and focusing on new year’s resolutions.  On top of that, it is cold, icy and gray outside.

Welcome to the retail doldrums.  This is when things get cranky.  Business owners are waking up with last year’s hangover.  Maybe their numbers were good – maybe not so much.  Either way, January and February are a real headache.

Just this week, I called my dad who was in the hospital recovering from a bad fall.  When I asked how things were going, he launched into an impassioned description of his plans to keep his Irish pub afloat until the all-important St Patrick’s Day Parade in March.  Even with a weak voice, uncertain meds and rehab in his future, my dad’s biggest worry from his hospital bed was how his small business would generate sufficient revenue in the first two months of the year.

Here in Oak Park, I’ve had similar conversations with local business owners in the past two weeks.  Maybe not from their hospital beds, but local restaurateurs, retailers and others in the hospitality field are worried about how to get through the slow period.  I’ve noticed shortened hours, reduced staff, special sales, more social media posts and skepticism over any discretionary spending.  

Apologies on behalf of the whole small business industry if we seem a little tense right now.  We’ll be fine when the weather gets warmer.  In the meantime, the Chamber has two local events to celebrate these hard-working local businesses – and maybe even drive some sales.  

On January 26, we are holding our fourth annual Bite Nite – a foodie festival featuring local restaurants.  Fifty vendors, all you can eat.  Tickets are sold out already, but the event is a good reminder to visit any of our wonderful local restaurants.  

On February 17, we are trying something new: the Retail Warehouse Sale.   Top area retailers will be selling end-of-season stock, at a 20-90% discount, in an exciting free event open to the public.

Hope you can make it!  Both events will be held at the Nineteenth Century Club.  Visit our website for details.

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...