WICKER PARK — A cavernous athletic shoe store named Stash opened Saturday in a space that was once home to a banquet hall and upscale Polish restaurant that closed 15 years ago.
The Wicker Park store features popular brands of men's and women's athletic shoes, as well as a glass-walled room just for Air Jordans, which range in price from $235 to $295.
Manager Moy Arroyo said people can bring in their Air Jordans and Stash will sell them on consignment, with the store keeping a 20 percent cut of the sale.
While Urban Dictionary has other definitions of the store's name, Arroyo said the inspiration for Stash evolved from the phrase "start to finish" and combines the first three letters of the word "start" with the "sh" at the end of "finish."
Arroyo added: "Stash can also mean a stash of money."
The wide-open space contains exposed concrete pillars and tall, freshly painted bright blue ceilings. It was formerly home to the bank-owned Palm Terrace Banquets at 1250 N. Milwaukee Ave., which was bought last spring by Tony Kim, a local businessman.
After an eight-month renovation, few nods to the space's past history remain, save for a chandelier in the foyer and frosted glass windows carved with names of cities in Poland.
Arroyo, who divides his time between managing Stash and nearby Diana's Shoes (also owned by Kim), said Saturday's soft opening test run for Stash did "really well."
Passers-by familiar with the banquet hall were "shocked" that it's finally open again, Arroyo said.
Stash occupies only the first-level storefront of the four-story building, and Arroyo said he's keeping the upper levels off limits to the public for now, since he's working on obtaining permits to eventually offer loft office space for rent.
In the near future, Arroyo plans to get a Facebook page going for Stash along with a sign on the building.
To live up to its plans to be a sporting boutique, the store will soon offer sportswear and a wider selection of shoes for babies, kids and families. Brands currently on display include Nike, Vans, Converse, Asics, Reebok and New Balance.
A grand opening for Stash in planned for "sometime in April," Arroyo said.
Stash, 1250 N. Milwaukee Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 773-227-7743.