Chicago Retailers Talk NATO Summit, Protests

The 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago, which has drawn big crowds and thousands of angry demonstrators, is also hurting footwear sales at some stores.

Eric Hsueh, co-owner of Akira boutique, which has 17 locations throughout Chicago, said his sales decreased significantly, especially at the two locations near McCormick Place convention center, where the two-day summit of world leaders was being hosted.

“It’s terrible. It’s a vacant downtown,” he said. “Saturday and Sunday, at our two stores on State Street, closest to the eye of the storm, there were no customers and revenue was depleted. There were also protesters right outside.”

Joseph Hall, owner of Styl Shoe Store on North Broadway Street, said that although his boutique is located outside the summit zone, sales were down about 30 percent over the weekend.

“I’ve heard from people closer to the summit that their business has been off 60 percent,” he said. “I hope they’ll have this somewhere else next time, or not have it at all.”

Sandro Ciurcina, owner of the two-door independent retailer Alternatives Shoes, which has locations in Bloomingdale’s Mall on Michigan Avenue and Block 37 mall on North State Street, said that his stores’ sales were severely impacted. “It’s very slow,” he said. “We had the worst weekend since we opened [24 years ago].”

City Soles is further away from the action, in the Wicker Park neighborhood, and owner Scott Starbuck said that his business was virtually unaffected.

“We are uptown in a trendy, funky area that’s removed from downtown Chicago,” the owner added. “We had a really good weekend, business-wise. I think [the summit] might have even helped business because a lot of locals just stayed in the neighborhood [to shop], plus there were a ton of tourists. It definitely brought hundreds of thousands of people to the city.”

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