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Lakeview's Punk And Goth Shop The Alley Is Closing Over Property Tax Hike

By Kate Shepherd in News on Dec 2, 2015 5:00PM


One of Lakeview's most recognizable stores—The Alley—is closin. After 41 years, owner Mark Thomas will close his store in January because revenues have dropped by two-thirds since the early 2000s, according to Crain's.

Property taxes and other administrative costs have skyrocketed over the years and with the coming property tax hike, the business won't be sustainable any longer. He's going to start liquidating inventory immediately and has agreed to sell the building.

The store's current revenue is about $750,000 and $800,000 a year, down from more than $2 million a year in 1999.

Thomas currently pays $44,000 per year in taxes but he estimates that his payments will go up to $54,000 a year, he told Crain's.

"Tell me, how does a single store owner pay $55,000 a year in real estate taxes? That's bigger than my mortgage," he said.

The number of Lakeview's small businesses has declined dramatically since the late '90s when there were 75 locally owned small businesses near Clark and Belmont, now there are only eight or nine, according to Thomas.

Thomas, who's a former Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce board member, attributes the decline to changes in people's spending habits and in tourism foot traffic. People spend more money on electronics than they did in the '90s and tourists tend to stay downtown now.

He's definitely not leaving the retail business for good, he's going to evolve with it. He wants to open a 10,000-square-foot multi-use retail and community space in Logan Square in 2016.

"The old store is part of a dying breed," he told Crain's. "The new idea will literally be a small business community with seating for 100. We're looking to be a work space, a shopping space and a community space."