Roscoe Village businesses close out dismal 2020 with window decorating contest: ‘Stores really need you’
Storefronts featured a tree made of wine bottles, winter scenes and magenta Christmas trees in a contest aiming to drum up business after COVID-19 slashed sales throughout the year.
Wine bottle trees and winter scenes are making their way into Roscoe Village storefront windows as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps driving small business owners to find new ways to draw in customers.
Business owners put their creative mettle on display Saturday to kick off a window decorating contest organized by the Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce, in the latest effort to drive up sales that have been slashed by the coronavirus.
“Right now it’s very hard for businesses in the neighborhood and we’re trying to just give more exposure to them to make people shop local,” said Chad Jensen, chamber president and owner of D Spa & Pet Boutique. “If somebody wants to stroll down the street and shop at these cute shops in 2021, then they better stop ordering off of Amazon for everything in 2020 because a lot of them aren’t going to make it.”
November and early December were “brutal” for Trudy Robinson-Foley, a Roscoe Village business owner for 14 years and owner of clothing store Kickin’ and A Pied Shoe Boutique. Because of the pandemic, sales have dropped since people simply don’t need as many clothes. She also had to get her online store up and running, she said.
“It’s twice as much [work] for half as much in sales,” Robinson-Foley said. She’s seen a slight uptick in sales in late December, but “it does not compensate in any way for the challenges that existed in November and early December,” she said.
She hoped that her decorations would bring some neighborhood cheer and encourage people to shop local instead of buying online, which offers a false sense of security, she said. “The amount of steps to get a package at your door is probably a lot more contact for other people than just shopping small where you can walk in, doors are open, there’s not that many people,” she said.
Ellie Thompson, owner of jewelry store Ellie Thompson + Co., who decorated her window with magenta Christmas trees, also saw an uptick in sales during the holidays after a “severe” drop from March to late June.
Thompson will keep her decorations until February while Robinson-Foley doesn’t plan on removing hers after the holidays. They hope it will continue to bring customers in.
“Retail stores really still need you out there shopping in January and February,” Robinson-Foley said.
“When they support small businesses right in their community, they’re supporting their community, the way it looks, the way it feels and the people that make up their neighborhood,” Thompson said.
More than 10 around the neighborhood are participating in the contest, which runs until Dec. 31. Local artist Heather Gentile-Collins helped business owners decorate their windows. People can vote for their favorite window display on the Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce website.