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Owner of Clothes Minded on Damen Avenue to Retire After 42 Years

By Alisa Hauser | January 20, 2014 9:26am
 Sandy Horwitz, owner of Clothes Minded, openend her shop in in 1972 and moved it from Lakeview East to its current location 30 years later.
Sandy Horwitz, owner of Clothes Minded, openend her shop in in 1972 and moved it from Lakeview East to its current location 30 years later.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

BUCKTOWN — The founder of a boutique in business for 42 years is calling it quits.

Clothes Minded, a women's clothing store at 1735 N. Damen Ave. — located just north of the Milwaukee, North and Damen Avenue intersection in an area that is technically Wicker Park but many refer to as Bucktown — is scheduled to close Feb. 26.

The closing was announced last week by its owner Sandy Horwitz, 70, in an email advertising "Good Byes and Good Buys."

"I feel good that so many of you have written words of sadness with regard to [Clothes Minded] closing. Here's the story. My lease was up, and the rents are too high to stay," Horwitz posted on Clothes Minded's Facebook page.

 Clothes Minded, 1735 N. Damen Ave.
Clothes Minded, 1735 N. Damen Ave.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

Horwitz told her customers, "I wasn't quite ready to give up, but I've decided to turn the whole thing into something adventurous. I'm taking a leap and hoping that some new work experience will do the trick. I can't imagine that anything will ever replace being Sandy from Clothes Minded. I will miss you. It's been a long run, and I'm glad we met."

Next to a Chipotle restaurant, Close Minded is surrounded by chain retailers like the Nike Running Store, Lululemon and Marc by Marc Jacobs, among others.

Horwitz opened Clothes Minded in 1972, when she was 29 years old, after shifting gears from being an English and drama teacher for Chicago Public Schools.

Initially in Lakeview East, on a stretch of Broadway between Belmont and Diversey avenues, then called "New Town," Clothes Minded relocated to Bucktown in 2002.

Horwitz, a Lakeview resident, said she was among the first boutiques to open in the 1600 and 1700 blocks of North Damen Avenue, which grew to a tight-knit community of 11 female business owners.

Today, there are three female entrepreneurs remaining, including Horwitz. Several other small retailers recently have left Damen Avenue as well.

After a decade at 1630 N. Damen Ave., children's boutique Psychobaby closed in July and relocated to Division Street, while Riley Boutique at 1659 N. Damen Ave. shuttered in May. Riley has been replaced by New York City-based clothing designer Steve Alan, who selected Damen Avenue for his first Midwest store.

Another independently owned shop, Stitch at 1723 N. Damen, is preparing to leave Damen Avenue, too, but planning to relocate elsewhere in the neighborhood, according to its Facebook page. Stitch will be replaced by Peek Kid, a children's clothing chain based in San Francisco.

All weekend long, Horwitz greeted customers at her store, where several shelves have been picked clean as shoppers snapped up jeans, sweaters and dresses with such designer labels as Language and Sanctuary at steep discounts.

Ultimately, Horwitz said it's the people she will miss most, and while not sure what's next, she knows one thing for certain.

"It will be very strange not to be Sandy from Clothes Minded," she said.

Clothes Minded, 1735 N. Damen Ave.  Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Phone: 773-227-3402.