A "Storefront Makeover Contest" for Devon Avenue shops between California and Kedzie is offering cash prizes to encourage merchants to beautify their premises and add eye appeal to the neighborhood's signature commercial strip.
Sponsored by Jewish Community Council of West Rogers Park (JCCWRP), the contest is intended to stimulate positive commercial development.
"Better-looking storefronts will increase business for the shopkeepers and upgrade the neighborhood for everyone," said Michael Schubert, a former Chicago commissioner of housing who serves as special consultant to the Jewish Community Council of West Rogers Park.
The winning storeowner will receive $2,500, with cash prizes of $1,500 and $1,000 to the second- and third-place winners.
"Revitalized storefronts create positive energy," said Rabbi Baruch Hertz of Cong. Bnei Ruven, at the corner of Devon and Whipple. Rabbi Hertz also teaches classes in Lakeview and Lincoln Square, where attractive shops and restaurants draw patrons from near and far. "Devon is a multi-cultural street with great potential, and we should strive to make it better."
Storeowners can participate in the contest in a variety of ways. Said JCCWRP Executive Director Shalom Klein, "they can replace and/or embellish windows, upgrade signs and doors, or do anything else that gives a fresh look to their stores and businesses."
Offering to assist merchants in their efforts, Klein said, "we can provide window and interior-design consultants and information about municipal incentive programs; we can help merchants fill out funding applications, and more."
JCCWRP President Howard Rieger emphasized the importance of store interiors, as well as exteriors, in "re-branding" neighborhood commercial streets, singling out Hamachi Sushi Bar on Howard and California as exemplary.
Underscoring the power of shoppers to influence shopkeepers, Rieger said, "it's important that community members let merchants know they care about the appearance of the stores in the neighborhood."
Having spearheaded many local, national and international campaigns to meet Jewish-communal and humanitarian needs, Rieger, who served as immediate past President and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America, said, "we can all play a part in the effort."
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