Troubled Northwest Side business owners are hoping Chicagoans will shop locally this holiday season

PORTAGE PARK — Business owner Kelsey Haywood opened her homeware and gift shop in Six Corners last year, offering quality merchandise to help people make their homes cozier.

But business has been so slow that Haywood hasn’t made a personal sale in about eight weeks, she said.

The haywoodmade store, 4942 W. Irving Park Road, is one of several Northwest Side stores that have seen little or no sales in about two months, worrying owners.

As Chicagoans do their Christmas shopping, Haywood is trying to stay hopeful that the next few weeks will bring in the revenue the store needs to thrive, she said.

Recognition: Margaret Rajic
Kelsey Haywood, owner and designer of haywoodmade interiors, opened the retail portion of her studio at 4942 W. Irving Park Road in November 2021.

“When people do Christmas shopping, think of us,” Haywood said. “I want to make people aware that we are here.”

Faced with inflation and other economic woes this year, people have less discretionary income to spend beyond the bare minimum, business owners said.

Marian Sherrell Haas, co-owner of gift shop REP CHI at Chicago’s 4425 N. Milwaukee Ave., has seen fewer sales because people are more conscious about their spending, she said.

The shop thrived in 2020 and 2021 with online orders and in-person shoppers. But since late August, Sherrell Haas has gone days with no sales, she said.

“We had days I couldn’t remember a time when people weren’t coming in. … Now we have days when people don’t come in,” Sherrell Haas said.

It didn’t help that utility costs have also risen, local contractors said. The cost of T-shirts is up 40 percent this year, Sherrell Haas said.

Even with slow sales, she’s thankful orders for custom screenprints are still steady, she said.

The shop has new items at different price points to ensure customers have options when looking for gifts, Sherrell Haas. New koozies and wine coolers line the shelves, along with updated t-shirt designs and neighborhood signs made by local artists.

“We are preparing for a successful holiday season,” said Sherrell Haas.

Recognition: Ariel Parrella-Aureli
REP CHI has everything you need to celebrate your love for Chicago while supporting local artists. New arrivals this year include beer and wine coolers and koozies, as seen on November 10, 2022.

Up the street at The Made Shop, 4440 N. Milwaukee Ave., the store is looking a little busier now, though October has been a slow month for the art business, owner Christina Parker said.

“It’s always a roller coaster ride … but we’ve been very busy this month,” Parker said.

The store, which sells handmade goods by 45 Chicago-area artists, opened last year and has had its ups and downs — but sales have been mostly steady as more people discover the store, Parker said.

As with other gift-focused businesses, The Made Shop saw a surge in holiday sales in 2021, and Parker is hoping for the same result, especially as the store stocks more items, she said.

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Shopkeepers have been asking Chicagoans to shop locally — whether in person or online — for the holidays and beyond, as businesses continue to chug up despite economic struggles from inflation, utility costs and the pandemic.

To attract more people to the store and spread some Christmas cheer, the store at haywoodmade is planning a family jewelry making event on December 10th. Check out the store’s social media for more information.

Haywood, who moved her design firm haywoodmade interiors to her first store early last year, said it was still sometimes a struggle to get people into the store itself, despite a bright display and outside sign. While the business with her interior design division has helped the company remain stable, the retail division needs more love, she said.

“I want the store to stand on its own two feet,” Haywood said.

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