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Local businesses band together to draw customers

(Handout photo )
March 23, 2012|By Ruthie Kott, for RedEye

For fashion lovers on a budget, Division Street in Wicker Park is particularly risky to stroll. Starting at Paulina with Noir and heading west, there are dozens of small boutiques with colorful dresses and dangly earrings in the window to hit up.

Eight of those shops--le Dress, Bonnie & Clyde's, Trillium, Kiz, M.Go, Mulberry & Me, Penelope's and Frill--are participating in the third annual March Madness sale March 24-25, started by the owners of le Dress.

"We thought it would be a great idea to get other stores on Division involved to generate more foot traffic for the whole street," said le Dress co-owner Eva Anderson.

Anderson said the sale will feature items up to 80 percent off, and was also planned as a way for the stores to transition from fall/winter to spring, although Mother Nature seems to have beat them to it.

"It is great timing for us to have our final clearance sale of the fall/winter season," said Jena Frey of Penelope's, located at 1913 W. Division St. "It is one last chance to grab items left from previous seasons for 50 to 70 percent off before we go full-on spring."

Take the store's Sessun wool pants, for example: They will be sold for $59--down from $195. And even though Chicago appears to be past coat season, Penelope's will sell a Sessun toggle coat, originally $345, for $165.

Including Penelope's, most of the boutiques have participated in the past.

"It was a successful sale weekend for us last year," said Erica Cook, the owner of Trillium, located 1744 W. Division St.

Maureen Longua Bueltmann participated when she owned Pump Shoes and Accessories; now that the shop is closed, her new store, Frill Accessories steps in to fill its place, offering $10 to $20 clearance accessories and a Brynn Capella handbag trunk show.

Some shops have already pulled out next season's fashions, such as Trillium's neighbors M.Go, located at 1754 W. Division St., selling all of their spring designs for 15 to 50 percent off.

In addition to providing deals for shoppers, the sale is a boom for local businesses.

"This is the third year M.Go. [has] participated in March Madness," said owner Michelle Gomez, "and it's always a great turnout."

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