LOGAN SQUARE — Shoe Source, a large family-owned store that sold everything from shoes to children’s uniforms, is leaving Logan Square’s Milwaukee Avenue after 12 years.
The store at 2774 N. Milwaukee Ave. is currently closed and has been for two months, according to the owner who identified himself only as Sammy, citing a desire to “move on.”
Sammy said about two months ago a homeless man started a fire in the alley behind the store and smoke traveled inside, causing extensive damage. His family is out $250,000 as a result, he said.
Sammy called the fire “traumatizing.”
“When you take a big hit like that, it’s hard to walk into the place everyday again,” he said. “It’s like looking at your ex-wife everyday and she broke your heart — having to see her everyday.”
The store owner said with their lease expiring in a few months and the neighborhood’s changing demographics, his family felt it was time to close up shop and move on. On Monday, the family was packing up inventory.
“It just all came at one time,” Sammy said.
Over the last dozen years the store has called Milwaukee Avenue home, the commercial strip has changed dramatically. New businesses catering to young millennials now dominate the strip.
Sammy said his family was initially drawn to Logan Square because that’s where their customer base was. In addition to shoes, the store sold jewelry, accessories, clothing and household items all at low prices.
“Our customers were predominantly Spanish-speaking, so we just went where the customers were,” Sammy said. “If the customers were in Iowa, we’d be there.”
Logan Square is no longer predominantly Latino. A WBEZ analysis in December of 2018 found that Logan Square’s white population has surpassed its Latino population.
Asked how the demographic shift has impacted business, Sammy said, “It affected it, but we changed our business tactics,” adding that they started offering different products to appeal to a broader customer base.
“We’d have two good years, one bad year, two good years. It’s business; it’s up and down,” he said.
Sammy called the neighborhood changes “great.”
“I love it. Crime is less. Property values are back up. A lot of homeowners benefit from that. We benefitted from that [in our neighborhood],” he said.
Sammy said he feels no ill will toward his landlord, who he said raised his rent every year, but never to an extent that was unreasonable.
“Every year the rent raises. That’s normal. Nobody did anything wrong,” he said.
R.P. Fox and Associates Inc. owns the building, according to Cook County property records.
Mike Fox of R.P. Fox and Associates Inc. said he plans to list the storefront on the market in the coming days and he doesn’t have any tenants lined up.
Fox confirmed what Sammy told Block Club — that the confluence of the fire, the expiring lease and the changing neighborhood all brought on the closure.
The retail industry has changed “with the advent of Amazon,” Fox added.
“They had a lot of stuff. They had sales. They just didn’t have enough sales,” he said.
Sammy said his family might reopen in another neighborhood, but not for a while. He said they’re still recuperating from the fire and focused on finding a buyer for all of the smoke-damaged products.
“For a little while, I’m just going to be bike riding,” he said with a laugh. “Not doing anything for a couple of months.”
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