WICKER PARK — Three Division Street storefronts have shuttered in recent weeks and a fourth plans to exit by the end of the month — moves that will add more vacancies to one of the city's most popular shopping and dining destinations along the Wicker Park and West Town border.
Despite a significant revamping in January that added more seats to the whimsically decorated A Baker's Tale, the bakery at 2127 W. Division St. closed its storefront last month, according to owner Christine LaSorda.
"After a lot of thought, we just realized the space didn't work financially for us anymore. We loved our spot and the area, but in the end it just didn't make sense for what we do. We decided to spend our energy doing the custom creations we love and delivering to customers instead," LaSorda said.
LaSorda now bakes out of a shared kitchen in the Fulton Market area and said that catering orders can be made through the bakery's website or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just east of A Baker's Tale, burger bar 25 Degrees — known for massive burgers and boozy milkshakes — closed last week, according to neighbors and an Eater report.
Co-owners Joe and Mac Boumaroun could not immediately be reached for comment. Before opening 25 Degrees, the Boumaroun brothers operated Barley & Brass in the spot at 2015 W. Division St., which became the burger bar last November.
Felippa Janik, co-owner of Janik's Cafe, said that the closures will hurt existing shops on the street.
"It's very sad. More businesses help more people to come to the street. Rents are all going up because [landlords] think the street is on the up, but if they keep raising rents, no one can afford to stay here," Janik said.
Janik said that she and her husband, Wayne Janik, have operated their cafe at 2011 W. Division St. for 13 years.
"[The retail closings] are depressing, especially with winter coming," she said.
Flower shop Cattails at 1935 W. Division St. opened in 1998 and relocated to 1434 W. Fullerton Ave. in Lincoln Park earlier this month, according to a sign in its window and the shop's voicemail.
Cattails owner Lisa Atterberry did not respond to requests for comment.
The vintage 1920s building at the southwest corner of Division Street and Winchester Avenue that long was home to Cattails is owned by Mary Beth Weishaar.
On Monday, Weishaar said that Cattails was "a wonderful tenant," but rent was getting higher, and it made more sense for them to move to a less expensive spot.
"Our property taxes have gone up tremendously. Small family businesses are having a hard time making their rent. It's kind of a shame. I wish the city could be more helpful in that area. With Cattails, they came in [in 1998], the store was not in good shape, they put an investment in and got really low rent [in exchange]. As time goes on, it gets tough," Weishaar said.
Weishaar said that she has a family-owned business lined up to replace Cattails, and if everything goes as planned, Mr. Dave Music, a children's music store that also will host parties, will be up and running by the holidays.
"I did not want a corporate place [to replace Cattails]. Mr. Dave's is a vibrant and fun business. They seemed so upbeat and positive," Weishaar said.
Lastly, fashion boutique Kiz Chicago at 2035 W. Division St. is moving at the end of October to 1851 W. Chicago Ave. in Ukrainian Village.
"Someone bought our building, and they raised the rent. A lot of the stores are closing. People are moving or getting bumped out. It's not a good situation for Division Street. No small store can afford what they want around here in rent," said Kiz's owner Simal Turan.
During October, Kiz is hosting a moving sale with prices as low as $5, the shop posted on Instagram.