Independent Retail is Exhausting – Even for Superstars

takaraSaturday’s annual street festival through the Oak Park Arts District was absolutely delightful.  A picturesque day, interesting vendors and a nice-sized crowd combined for a successful What’s Blooming on Harrison.  Congratulations to the many volunteers who worked so hard to create a terrific community experience.

We enjoyed browsing the many artwork, jewelry and textile booths.  One in particular drew us in, with magnetic colors, fabrics you just had to touch and an eye-catching style of women’s clothing.  My friend and I exchanged knowing shrugs when we saw the label.  Of course.   Takara.

Takara is back. Back in the original location at 140 Harrison where she first opened her retail store years ago.  The “PopShop” name implies a temporary lease but from the looks of it, she may be there a little longer.

Takara’s many fans and customers swarmed her to welcome back an old friend.  Those of us who left with logoed shopping bags in hand nodded gleefully as people stopped us in the street. “Takara’s back?! Where?”

Takara is one of our own.  An engaging and talented fashion designer who chose Oak Park to establish herself.  She started in the tiny store on Harrison and eventually moved to larger digs on Marion Street in Downtown Oak Park.  Though one can never know the true dynamics of another’s retail operation, it was a surprise when she closed over a year ago.  Word was, she would focus on designing, trunk shows and online sales.

And now she is back.  Back in the small storefront.  Someone remarked how gratifying it must be for her to be welcomed so heartily. And I am sure that is true.  But when Takara and I talked a bit, this amazing strong woman said in a quiet voice only another retailer would understand, “I was just tired.”

Retail is hard.  It is relentless. It is day to day.  It may generate profits but not necessarily riches.  An inexhaustible artist over time can become an exhausted shopkeeper.  Even when everything is going well.

Welcome back, Takara.  You earned your sabbatical and we’re thrilled you decided to jump back in.

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