Hollywood Mirror closing reflects broader Lakeview changes

CHICAGO (WLS) -- For more than 26 years, the Hollywood Mirror has been a Lakeview destination for thrift, vintage, avant-garde and beyond. You can find wigs, masks, Halloween makeup.

"We sell furniture, we sell neon lights," manager Gabi Cracraft added.

All of that came to an end Tuesday with the store's closing.

"I feel like I'm kind of losing Chicago, for me, at least a little bit," remarked John Klingle, who said he'd been shopping at the Hollywood Mirror for years.

"That's messed up because something lame is probably going to go here," said Elly Jimenez, also getting in one last shopping spree at the neighborhood institution.

These reactions and the store's fate aren't unique to Lakeview; this closing is merely the latest in a series of changes to the community.

"This is a very sought after neighborhood for developers," said Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Maureen Martino. She added that means increasingly property owners are cashing out.

Combined with rising property taxes and aging business owners, "the small business owner just can't afford the leases anymore," Martino said.

Cracraft has watched that stark reality unfold before her eyes recently, finally reaching her storefront.

"It really just doesn't feel like it's our time anymore because everything's being pushed out," Cracraft said.

She said for the Hollywood Mirror, a migration to online shopping exacerbated the store's demise.

"People need to get off their computers and start walking around their neighborhoods," offered up Martino, adding, "You're not going unique stuff as much as you can in your local neighborhood."

As for the big box store influx, worrying some that retail giants will cause mom and pop businesses to shutter, Martino said there's actually upside.

"When we build big box within these corners... it brings people in to see the smaller businesses," she explained.

This theory is continually tested in this evolving Chicago neighborhood.
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