La Grange coffee shop closes
Owner Arlene Kallien talks with employee Brian Jones at the New Vintage Coffee and Gift Shop in La Grange. | Jane Michaels~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 17, 2012 11:39AM
LA GRANGE — The owner of the New Vintage Coffee and Gift Shop in La Grange said she could no longer ignore the financial writing on the wall and had to close her doors Aug. 3.
“It was very difficult, very emotional,” Arlene Kallien said. “It was just time to close up.”
Kallien launched the business Oct. 24 at 22 W. Calendar Ave. to showcase funny cards she created and other off-beat merchandise to give customers a chuckle.
Leaner than anticipated economic times and a lull in walk-in customers during the chilly winter forced a change in business strategy, and Kallien reinvented the store as a cozy coffeehouse with entertainment and games in July, she said.
“Really, we just ran out of time,” the owner said. “Things were getting better, just not fast enough.”
Kallien said she appreciated the sentiments of loyal customers upset over the closing, as well as the support of employees she was forced to dismiss. One worker offered to help out for free until she recovered financially, she said.
“People were streaming in all day Friday with tears in their eyes,” she said. “That made it difficult, but it was also easier in a way, seeing the incredible amount of people who loved this place.”
The owner said she expects to continue selling items online, though she may change the website’s name. She also is uncertain whether she will hold a liquidation sale. Customers should check the store’s Facebook page for the café’s last official day, she said.
Kallien said she’s learned much from her business venture and plans to try again at some point.
“This was only chapter one,” she said. “The second time around, it’ll actually be easier.”