News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

Sir & Madame

Chicago’s Dearborn Denim & Apparel to open first-ever retail store in Hyde Park on May 20

Rob McMillan, a resident of the South Loop and founder of Dearborn Denim & Apparel, will open the online retailer’s first-ever brick-and-mortar store in Hyde Park at 1504 E. 53rd Street on May 20, in between Modern Cooperative and The Silver Room.

The opening of the store is part of the University of Chicago’s effort to bring new retailers to 53rd Street – particularly soft goods and apparel – creating a diverse mix of local and national retailers, as mentioned by participants in recent community focus groups.

At a time when “shop local” and “made in America” are becoming increasingly important to conscientious shoppers, Dearborn Denim & Apparel is a rarity – offering denim jeans for men and women designed and manufactured at the company’s factory in the Garfield Park neighborhood.

The jeans are made from premium stretch denim loomed in Georgia from West Texas long staple cotton, and sewn by Dearborn’s local Chicago staff of 15 employees. McMillan sells directly to customers.

In announcing the new Hyde Park store, McMillan said, “This is a major development for Dearborn Denim & Apparel – until this point we’ve primarily been selling our jeans online, but our new store will allow customers to try on all the different fits and washes – experiencing the quality first-hand before making a purchase. Hyde Park is a great community, and we’re excited to become a part of it."

In speaking with McMillan, we learned that the concept for Dearborn Denim & Apparel, officially started in 2016, came when McMillan, formerly a Chicago Board of Trade bond trader, heard his wife Katy’s complaints that the expensive jeans she was buying would start sagging midday, and become unwearable after several washes. McMillan was intrigued, and recounted, “OK, what if we started making jeans in Chicago, what would that look like? So I started researching denim online, visiting apparel manufacturers, and developing a plan. When we realized we could get a great pair of jeans out the door at a reasonable price, made in Chicago, I said, I want those and I bet other people would too."

 “Dearborn Denim & Apparel offers a unique concept that can become a destination for shoppers from Hyde Park as well as throughout the city,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University. “This is truly a ‘shop small/shop local’ business, and we’re honored to have their flagship location in Hyde Park."

The store is an important new addition to 53rd Street, establishing a strong apparel presence with existing businesses such as Sir & Madame, The Silver Room, Akira, and  Jojayden.

Dearborn Denim & Apparel offers five different fits for men and women (tailored, skinny high-rise, slim, straight leg, and relaxed) in dark wash, medium wash, black at prices ranging from $59 to $65.  Khakis, shorts, and tops for women will be coming soon.

To learn more about Dearborn Denim & Apparel, visit their website.

53rd Street Hosts First-Ever CONNECT Hyde Park Art Festival November 18-20

For the weekend of November 18-20, 2016, Hyde Park’s 53rd Street area will host the CONNECT Hyde Park Art Festival, as mentioned on the event website, “…a three-day, multi-sited arts festival that combines visual + performing art, designed objects, film, music, fashion and literary culture.”

Developed by Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room located at 1506 E. 53rd Street, in partnership with the University of Chicago Commercial Real Estate Operations (CREO) group, the free festival “…provides the opportunity to explore and engage with cutting-edge contemporary art and design by some of Chicago’s leading artists, designers, curators and art institutions.”

“Based on the success of Eric Williams’ Downtown Hyde Park/Silver Room Block Party on 53rd Street this July, we are excited to collaborate on this special cultural event for the community, highlighting the strength of the Hyde Park arts community as well as the vibrancy of the neighborhood,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University.

“We have nearly 100 of the city’s finest artists confirmed to participate in CONNECT, including graphic designers, painters, photographers, installation artists, furniture designers, musicians, and more,” said Eric Williams, creator of the event. “This is a great opportunity to showcase Hyde Park and celebrate all forms of art.”

Exhibition sites include the Collaboration Gallery at 1538 E. 53rd Street (near Starbucks), featuring artists and South Side institutions; the Community Gallery at 1520 S. Harper Court (near Native Foods), with “Permanent Record: Chicago Hip Hop Kulture;” the Collective Gallery at 1504 E. 53rd Street (between Modern Cooperative and The Silver Room), highlighting local and emerging artists; and the Creation Gallery at 1465 E. 53rd Street (near Rajun Cajun), with designed objects from fashion to furniture. Additional exhibition venues include the Harper Theater at 5238 S. Harper Avenue, showing the film “Shake the Dust,” produced by Nasir “Nas” Jones, documenting the transformative power of hip hop in Colombia, Cambodia, Uganda, and Yemen; Sir & Madame at 5225 S. Harper Court; The Silver Room at 1506 E. 53rd Street; Modern Cooperative at 1500 E. 53rd Street; A10 Hyde Park at 1462 E. 53rd Street; and Jojayden at 1457 E. 53rd Street.

Local artists are invited to submit their works for possible exhibition by Sunday, November 13. Artists may submit up to five pieces of art from two series of artworks; one published and one unpublished in categories including watercolor, charcoal, photography, graffiti, illustration, graphic design, collage, sculpture, or multimedia. Submissions will be evaluated by a panel of CONNECT Hyde Park curators, and selected artists will be notified via email by Tuesday, November 15, with artwork needed by Thursday, November 17 at the designated gallery space.

The event is garnering local press in the Hyde Park Herald, DNA Chicago, and was named by Time Out Chicago as one of the “9 Art Gallery Exhibitions to See in November.”

Festival hours are Friday, November 18, from 5-10 pm; Saturday, November 19, from 12-10 pm; and Sunday, November 20, from 12-5 pm. There will be an after party on opening night at The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue, from 10 pm -2 am, featuring jazz great, Kahil El-Zabar, with additional performers to be announced.

Parking is free in the Harper Court garage (entry on South Lake Park Avenue just south of McDonald's) from 5 pm on Friday, November 18 through 11:59 pm on Sunday, November 20 for the duration of the CONNECT event.  Parkers are instructed to pull into the garage as normal, pull a ticket, and as long as they enter and exit between those time periods, it will register as $0 being owed when they show the ticket at exit.

For more information, visit the event website and Facebook and Instagram accounts.

“Happy Hyde Parking” promotion returns for a second year

Based on its success during the 2014 holiday shopping season, the “Happy Hyde Parking” promotion at the Harper Court parking garage has returned for a second year.

Beginning last week with Black Friday on November 28, through Thursday, December 31, shoppers receive two hours of free parking when they park at the 200-space garage, accessed on the west side of Lake Park Avenue, just north of 53rd Street. Regular parking rates will apply after the initial two free hours. No validation or coupon is needed.

The University of Chicago is providing the benefit in coordination with parking operator LAZ Parking as an added convenience for shoppers visiting Hyde Park businesses as well as attending neighborhood holiday events.

“With the opening of new Harper Court businesses including Sir & Madame, NoteworthyNotes, and Einstein Bros. Bagels; 53rd Street businesses such as Modern Cooperative; as well as the three-week Hyde Park Holiday Nights events on December 3, 10, and 17,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University, “two hours of free parking is a great incentive to take advantage of all the activity downtown Hyde Park has to offer this holiday season.”

To bring more visibility to the promotion, large-scale window signage was installed on the southeast and northwest corners of the Harper Court building as well as the entrance to the parking garage.

Sir & Madame boutique returns to Hyde Park with permanent location

It’s a happy homecoming for Hyde Park natives Brian and Autumn Merritt, opening a permanent location of their clothing and accessories boutique Sir & Madame, at 5225 S. Harper Court on August 17, 2015 – it’s also great news for area shoppers who gravitate to their “classic with a twist” design aesthetic.

Hyde Parkers may remember Sir & Madame’s temporary pop-up location at 1504 E. 53rd Street – the store opened in September 2013 in the space now occupied by Belle Up Boutique. Sir & Madame’s “urban sophisticate” offerings were enthusiastically received by the Hyde Park community, and the Merritts said they hoped to open a permanent location once their Ukrainian Village lease ended.

The couple first met as students at Ray Elementary, attended Kenwood Academy together, and now they’re back in the neighborhood with the opening of Sir & Madame in the Harper Court development, next door to Nancy Krause Floral Design & Garden Antiques. When their pop-up store opened, Ms. Merritt explained, “We're all about Hyde Park. We're back on the block…We grew up walking 53rd Street. When we were teenagers, it was the place to be—where all the cool people were. All of that was sort of lost until now, and we want to be a part of bringing that back…We definitely see Hyde Park as a viable market, and I think everyone here can appreciate well-made clothes and accessories “

“We always knew that Sir & Madame was a great fit for Hyde Park and with the 53rd Street area increasingly becoming known as a vibrant shopping and dining destination, we could not be happier to welcome them back,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University. “It’s a great benefit to the Hyde Park community when a pop-up shop owner experiences the vitality and charm of the neighborhood and decides to make the area a permanent home for his or her business."

New pop-up shops coming to 53rd Street

Three new pop-up shops are set to open on 53rd Street early next month, becoming the latest addition to Hyde Park’s burgeoning shopping, dining and entertainment district. Home goods purveyor Neighborly, handmade-fashions boutique Anastasia, and vintage retailer Meadowlark are all scheduled to open on November 7 and remain open through the upcoming holiday shopping season.

The temporary stores are part of an ongoing effort for apparel and home goods retailers to test their concepts in Hyde Park while giving local residents new choices and a variety of shopping options. Other recent pop-ups have included apparel boutiques Independence and Sir & Madame, children’s apparel retailer Red Balloon, and women’s apparel store Comfort Me Boutique. Comfort Me, which opened in August 2013, has proven popular among local shoppers and has signed a long-term lease to remain in the neighborhood.

“I love this neighborhood because it is very close-knit and has that feeling that everybody knows everybody,” said Bethany Thomas, who manages the Hyde Park Comfort Me. “I am getting really good feedback about my product and what the shopper here likes.”

If the latest pop-ups are successful, they might stay longer too. The stores are:

  • Anastasia, 1500 E. 53rd St., is a Ukranian Village-based fashion boutique headed by designer Anastasia Chatzka. It is known for offering avant-garde garments on the forefront of fashion. Its pop-up shop in Hyde Park will stock select handmade soft goods.
  • Meadowlark, 1457 E. 53rd Street, is a community-oriented shop with a main branch in Humboldt Park, featuring a carefully edited selection of vintage clothing for men and women, as well as works by local artists and designers. The pop-up store will feature modern-feeling vintage, including wool sweaters, silk shirts, fine wool coats, and scarves for cold days.
  • Neighborly, originally based in Lincoln Square, will go into the space at 1506 E. 53rd St., most recently occupied by Independence. It is a one-stop shop for locally sourced home goods, including furniture, vintage kitchenware, and modern artwork. The Hyde Park pop-up will carry a similar but carefully curated inventory, offering seasonally appropriate goods to South Siders seeking stylish, modern home accessories. The store is currently seeking a retail assistant.

“The pop-up shops are one strategy to bring in the kinds of retail options the local community has told us they want to see, in addition to the restaurants and other amenities we’ve had great success in attracting to the area,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University of Chicago, which has been partnering with the city and local community to revitalize the 53rd Street corridor. “So far, each of these temporary stores has stayed longer than they originally planned because they have been even more successful than they expected.”

The University is working with its leasing agent, McCaffery Interests, to identify both temporary, pop-up retailers for 53rd Street and long-term tenants.

Shop ‘Small Business Saturday’ on 53rd Street

Several 53rd Street businesses will host special events today in recognition of Small Business Saturday.

While Black Friday is the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season, Small Business Saturday reminds shoppers that there are great deals to be found at small businesses around the country. American Express started the Saturday observance in 2010, and the South East Chicago Commission is seizing the occasion to promote mid-South Side businesses.

Events in Hyde Park include:

Tea and Cookies at Akira

1539 East 53rd Street, Chicago IL. 

Come celebrate Akira’s 1-year anniversary in Hyde Park!  In the spirit of celebration, Akira will offer buy one, get one half off an entire purchase when customers present an ad or promotional flyer for Small Business Saturday in Hyde Park.  Sexy dresses, denim, jewelry, & handbags from over 200 designer brands and smaller fashion houses line the walls at AKIRA, ensuring that even the most discerning customer won't leave the store empty-handed. Patrons will also receive complimentary tea and cookies at the time of purchase. Shop Akira on Small Business Saturday and enjoy the celebration.

Sip and Shop at Sir and Madame – All Day

1504 East 53rd Street, Chicago IL. 

This will be a social event with sangria and music to enhance the shopping experience. Sir and Madame will feature their winter collection and special discounts to patrons. Sip and Shop will appeal to individuals that appreciate shopping at boutiques and in upscale environments. Individuals will also learn about the Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink, & Buy Local initiative and the take the 365 Pledge to spend $365 in 2014 at a small business.

Wine and Live DJ at Independence – All Day

1506 East 53rd Street, Chicago IL. 

 To celebrate Small Business Day and enhance the shopping experience Independence will have a live DJ and serve complimentary wine while customers shop. Patrons will also receive information about the Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink, & Buy Local 365 Pledge that encourages individuals to spend at least $365 in 2014 at a small business. 

Hyatt Place Small Business Day Happy Hour Jazz Event 5pm – 9pm

5225 South Harper Court Avenue, Chicago IL. 

The Hyatt Place will host a Small Business Day happy hour event with local jazz artist Darwin G. Jackson & Company. Special guest speaker Dwayne Hirsh, Small Business Advocacy Council Board Member and Founder of Business Spotlight Networking will speak about the benefits of shopping local and supporting small businesses. Individuals will also learn about the Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink, & Buy Local initiative and take the 365 Pledge to spend $365 in 2014 at a small business. The Hyatt Place will offer drink specials during happy hour to enrich the evening as we celebrate Small Business Saturday.

Late Night Dancing Chant Restaurant 10pm – 2am

1509 East 53rd Street, Chicago IL. 

Dance the night away at Chant in celebration of Small Business Saturday. Come enjoy “Late Night Dancing” hosted by Rhonda Flower & CoCo.  Party-goers will experience unground reggae, classic hip hop, soul and house music as they dance the night away. During this exciting event individuals will receive information about the Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink, & Buy Local 365 Pledge that encourages people to spend at least $365 in 2014 at a small business. Chant will offer Small Business Saturday drink specials. 

Visit the SECC website for information about Unwrap Chicago and Small Business Saturday events elsewhere on the mid-South Side.

New Fashion Shops in Hyde Park

Black Friday shoppers seeking apparel and fashion accessories need look no farther today than the Hyde Park neighborhood.

Three new fashion boutiques have opened on 53rd Street this fall, adding more shopping options to the growing number of new amenities in Hyde Park. Women’s clothing shop Comfort Me Boutique; urban apparel retailer Sir & Madame, and upscale men’s store Independence all operate temporary or pop-up locations and hope to make their presence in the neighborhood permanent.

“There’s something really cool happening on 53rd street, and we want to be a part of that,” said George Vlagos, owner of the street’s newest pop-up Independence. Vlagos’ other stores, Oak Street Bootmakers and the first Independence, are located on tony Oak Street in downtown Chicago.

Vlagos says his store at 1506 E. 53rd Street features an “Americana aesthetic” and an element of authenticity in everything from the clothing to the décor.

“Everything we have has been made in America and has a history and a story. The lights are 1920’s factory lights from a Chicago manufacturer that we managed to get at auction,” he said in a recent interview, adding that the stores’ clothing represents the same commitment to high quality production. Jeans he was wearing from his store  (his only pair), he says, are “basically indestructible.”

Comfort Me Boutique, at 5241 S. Harper Avenue, also features clothing and products made in America, along with vintage or repurposed furnishings. Bethany Thomas, the main manager of Hyde Park’s newest pop-up, describes the store’s aesthetic and mission as “comfort for the mind, body, and soul” for women in their mid-twenties and up.

Sir & Madame, at 1504 E. 53rd Street, is run by two native Hyde Parkers who brought the retail concept that they've made popular in Ukranian Village home to their original neighborhood.

For Black Friday, Comfort Me is offering the best deals for the earliest shoppers, Sir & Madame has sale prices up to 50% off, and Independence also has attractive sale prices. However, the three pop-ups are not the only places to shop for apparel on 53rd Street. Akira and Villa shoe store are other great new options.

Hyde Park Natives Set to Open Sir & Madame Pop-up Next Month

Hyde Park natives Autumn and Brian Merritt are coming home, and they’re bringing a new option for apparel shopping with them—at least temporarily. The husband and wife team are owners of Sir & Madame, the upscale Ukrainian Village boutique that offers clothing and accessories for the “urban sophisticate.”

The Merritts are set to open a second location of Sir & Madame in Hyde Park in mid-September. The six-month pop-up store will be located at 1504 East 53rd Street, in a space formerly occupied by Apartment Finders.

To help introduce Hyde Parkers to the store, Autumn recently answered a few questions about the couple's start in retail and their return to 53rd Street.

How did the first Sir & Madame come to be?

Autumn: Two months after Brian and I got married, we decided to go into business together. We opened Solemates, a consignment and sneaker store, and we found our niche with an established set of customers and relationships. That was our ‘in’. Two and a half years into that, we wanted to push forward with a long-lasting brand. That brought us into Ukrainian Village because of the feel of the neighborhood. The opportunity was right for us, and seven years later everything is working out.

Ukrainian Village was the right place then. What makes Hyde Park right for this move?

Autumn: We are Hyde Parkers. Brian and I were both raised in Hyde Park. We went to school at Ray Elementary, where we met. We both went to Kenwood Academy for high school. My parents still live in Hyde Park. My kids even went to daycare in Hyde Park. We live closer to our first Sir & Madame store now, but we consider Hyde Park to be our community.

Do you think this pop-up could turn into a permanent expansion?

Autumn: Yes, that's definitely an option. We're in a great position right now to come to Hyde Park when everything is booming. It's great to witness the growth knowing how it used to be years back. It's amazing and hopefully everything works out, so that we can stay in Hyde Park. We definitely see Hyde Park as a viable market, and I think everyone here can appreciate well-made clothes and accessories.

Do you think your store has the capacity to bring in UChicago students as well as lifelong Hyde Parkers like you and Brian?

Autumn: We certainly hope for both demographics. The store in the Ukrainian Village brings everyone together. We can't picture anything less than that for Hyde Park. We have strong ties with everyone from the University to the high schools in the area.

Do you envision then hiring Hyde Parkers for the store here?

Autumn: Yes. We're all about Hyde Park. We're back on the block.  I’m 30 and Brian is 32. We grew up walking 53rd Street. When we were teenagers, it was the place to be—where all the cool people were. All of that was sort of lost until now, and we want to be a part of bringing that back.