For the first time in recent years, every retail space on Williams Street and in the Brink Street Market is leased out, according to Diana Kenney, executive director for Downtown Crystal Lake.
"We have zero vacancies on Williams Street," Kenney told members of the Crystal Lake City Council last week.
There are about 50 retail sites on Williams Street, including the stores and restaurants in the Brink Street Market, which all have Williams Street addresses, she said.
"I have been here 13-and-a-half years, and I don't remember ever being leased out," Kenney said. "I don't know if this has even happened in the last couple decades."
New Stores Opening
The last remaining vacant retail spaces have now been leased out. Blue Ridge Mountain Outfitters will move into 35 N. Williams St., formerly occupied by Exclusively Napa, Kenney said. The store will feature brands such as North Face and Patagonia.
The Vapor Hut, a store selling electronic cigarettes, and a natural health doctor have each contracted to locate within the Brink Street Market. More recently, Kitchen Outfitters moved into 64 N. Williams St., next door to Marvin Toy Store and Wear Did You Get That, 66 N. Williams St., two recent additions.
Further down the street, Riverside Chocolates helped rejuvenate the former Flagg building, which is partially occupied by Flagg Antique Mall, 2 S. Williams St.
Main Street Illinois Program
Kenney credits the Main Street Illinois program for pointing Downtown Crystal Lake/ Main Street in the right direction. The program, combined with meetings and seminars attended by business people from throughout the country, inspires new ideas and direction.
"It's about creating a whole big package," Kenney said. "It's not just about shopping, but about creating a community for businesses and a place that becomes the heart of the community."
Kenney also credited a great working relationship with the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce and City of Crystal Lake Asst. Economic Director James Richter II with luring new business owners to the historic downtown area.
Diverse Mix of Stores and Special Events
The result is Downtown Crystal Lake offers a diverse mix of business uses - including boutique shops, antique shops, restaurants, hair salons, exercise salons, a music shop, dance studio, office spaces, bakery, fabric store, and the Raue Center for the Arts.
In addition to the stores and services, Downtown Crystal Lake is the backdrop for the annual Memorial Day Parade, Festival of Lights Parade, weekly Farmers Market, and the Johnny Appleseed Festival, which last month drew the largest crowd of attendees in all of its 21 years, Kenney said.
Earlier this month, at the Illinois Main Street State Conference in Pontiac, Ill., Downtown Crystal Lake received a Lt. Governor’s Award of Excellence for the Johnny Appleseed Festival.
Local Business Owner
Lynne Wickham, owner of Wickham Interiors at 67 N. Williams St. since 1989, said the news of full occupancy in the downtown area is "terrific, positive and exciting."
Wickham said partial credit to the downtown's growth goes to the city for investing in renovations and improvements. She said the downtown's close-knit business community is a draw for new entrepreneurs, as well.
"It's a whole community spirit down here," Wickham said. "It's a reflection of the whole town. It's a collaborative effort - mostly of volunteers and people who don't even have a business down here."
Wickham said Crystal Lake's success is drawing shoppers from other communities where downtown districts are struggling.
"Some people (customers) have been telling me that it's difficult to find an area where they can find a group of shops close together where they can walk store to store," she said. "So they've come to Crystal Lake to do their shopping."
Mayor Aaron Shepley said the revitalization of downtown Crystal Lake has been remarkable.
"I think the downtown area has far surpassed what any of us (here on the city council) have experienced in our lifetime," Shepley said.