The Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce hosted its inaugural Retail Warehouse Sale on Feb. 17, where more than 400 residents browsed some 20 local vendors that set up shop at the 19th Century Club, while munching goodies from Spilt Milk bakery. 

“January and February are traditionally really terrible for a small retail store, those are our lowest months,” said Anne Pezalla, owner of Lively Athletics who helped organize the event. “They are just so sleepy, no one shops and we’re still sitting on extra inventory from Christmas.” 

As a way to combat the post-holiday doldrums, the Chamber hosted its first-ever discount shopping event, which charged the first 100 entrants $15 to enter an hour early. All proceeds from ticket sales were donated to Hephzibah Children’s Association, a social service agency, and the Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneur Scholarship fund, which goes to prospective Oak Park and River Forest High School graduates who will pursue post-secondary education in the coming school year. Pezalla said the event raised $1,000 for Hephzibah and $500 for the scholarship. 

Next year, she said the event will be self-sustaining, with retailers throwing the sale themselves again during President’s Day Weekend. 

“It’s a great time to own a store right now, we all own stores and are helping each other,” she said.

Nona Tepper

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