It's Your Business: C-U saying goodbye to some longtime retailers

It's Your Business: C-U saying goodbye to some longtime retailers

Abercrombie & Fitch, the fashion retailer known for provocative advertising, has closed its store at Market Place Shopping Center in Champaign after 13 years there. The store's last day of business was Jan. 19.

The Ohio-based retailer indicated last year it planned to close about 180 stores in the U.S. over three years.

The 8,500-square-foot store at Market Place is being divided into two spaces, with the northern space to be occupied by White House | Black Market, a women's retailer.

A tenant for the southern space is expected to be announced soon, according to Dennis Robertson, general manager of the shopping center.

White House | Black Market got its start in Baltimore in 1985 as a boutique called The White House that specialized in white and ivory clothing and accessories.

A decade later, the company opened Black Market, and in 1997 the company combined the two boutiques.

Today, there are 365 White House | Black Market stores that, according to the company, feature "the honest simplicity of black and white." Three of those stores are in Normal, Peoria and Springfield.

WildCountry to take breather

Across the hall from Abercrombie & Fitch, the Inside Scoop candy store has closed.

WildCountry, which is next door to Inside Scoop, will continue to operate through the end of this month.

But in February, the WildCountry and Inside Scoop spaces will be combined to make way for a relocating Market Place tenant, Robertson said.

Steve Smith, whose family owns WildCountry, said the store lost its lease, but hopes to return in a different location at Market Place.

"It's a matter of finding space at the mall. It depends on what's available," he said.

WildCountry has had a store in Champaign for 25 years, he noted.

In the meantime, customers can visit WildCountry stores at 203 S. Linden St. in Normal and at Eastland Mall in Bloomington. The phone number for the Normal store is 309-452-0222.

Bugging out

Fashion Bug, a fixture at Champaign's Market Place Plaza for more than a quarter of a century, has been — pardon the parlance — exterminated.

The store at 1901 N. Market St. opened in 1986, adjacent to an already-open Fashion Bug Plus store, according to The News-Gazette's archives.

Fashion Bug was operated by Charming Shoppes, but that company was acquired last year by Ascena Retail Group, which operates the Dressbarn and Maurices chains.

Ascena is in the midst of closing down the Fashion Bug chain. The Danville store — at Danville Crossings store on Newell Road — has already closed.

Ascena has indicated it will keep open Charming's Lane Bryant and Catherine's Plus Sizes stores.

Dennis Robertson, general manager of Market Place Shopping Center, said the availability of Fashion Bug's 11,000-square-foot space has been shared with other retailers, but so far there's no new tenant to be announced.

Bobo's plans debut

George Dries, who plans to open Bobo's Barbecue on West Springfield Avenue in Champaign, said the restaurant will likely begin business sometime late this week.

Bobo's is taking over the space formerly occupied by Cozy's Custard and then Juniors Burgers and Custard at 1511 W. Springfield Ave., C.

Dries, who has been in the restaurant business for 20 years, said Bobo's will offer sandwiches and dinners, including beef brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis-style ribs, rib tips, Polish sausage, smoked turkey and half-chicken dinners.

Dinners will come with two sides and corn bread, and the sides will include collard greens, grits, homemade french fries, broccoli-and-cheese casserole, macaroni and cheese, baked beans and green beans.

The restaurant's slogan: "Put some South in yo' mouth."

Dries said he'll emphasize delivery, catering and family packs. Customers can pick up food at the drive-thru if they choose.

Hours will be 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Lunches are expected to be in the $6.50 to $9 range, while dinners will range from $9.95 to $18.95, Dries said. There will also be a daily lunch special.

The phone number will be 355-2271.

Peppering the landscape

Dollar General is interested in building a store on Prairie View Road in Mahomet, but hasn't given the green light for it yet, a spokeswoman for the company says.

"Since we are in the due-diligence phase, we have not committed to opening that location," said Crystal Ghassemi, public relations manager for the Tennessee-based chain.

Dollar General has 37 stores in East Central Illinois, including two each in Champaign and Urbana, four in Danville, three in Mattoon and one each in Arcola, Arthur, Catlin, Cerro Gordo, Charleston, Chrisman, Clinton, Farmer City, Gibson City, Gilman, Hoopeston, LeRoy, Milford, Monticello, Oakwood, Paris, Paxton, Rantoul, Rossville, Sullivan, Tilton, Tolono, Tuscola, Villa Grove, Watseka and Westville,

Making new of old

Phoenix Consulting Engineers plans to move to a newly renovated building in downtown Mahomet this spring.

Tom Overmyer, the company's president, said the civil engineering firm expects to transfer to the building at 421 E. Main St. in April.

The building, which most recently housed Christopher Rory Photography, dates from about 1875, Overmyer said.

"It's in Mahomet's historic old part, it had a lot of charm — brick walls and high ceilings," Overmyer said. "It made a good fit. It will provide a warm feeling when people visit."

Overmyer said the interior is being gutted, with new walls, framing and electrical systems being installed.

Founded in 2010, Phoenix is operating from temporary space at 1204 Oak St., Mahomet. The firm provides civil engineering services primarily to municipal clients and land surveying services. It has five full-time professionals — engineers, technicians and surveyors — on staff, as well as four part-time employees.

Overmyer said the company expects to keep its phone number, 586-1803, once it moves to the new location.

Opening date set

The long-awaited CVS pharmacy in Savoy has announced its opening date: Sunday, Feb. 3.

The new store, at the southwest corner of U.S. 45 and Curtis Road, will join two CVS locations in Champaign and one in Urbana. Other CVS stores in East Central Illinois are in Mahomet, Rantoul, Danville, Westville, Hoopeston, Clinton, Sullivan, Charleston, Mattoon, Paris and Watseka.

We have a winner ...

Last summer, Cafe Zojo at The Pines in Urbana announced plans for a drawing, the winner of which would get free tuition for a semester.

Customers were given tickets, a drawing was held and the winner was Sergio Diego Juan, an art student at Parkland College.

"He is a very talented, hard-working artist who is more than deserving of this prize," said Teresa Baldwin, the cafe's managing partner.

The contest offered tuition reimbursement of up to $5,318 for a semester of study.

Medical examination

Bella Medical Center will host an open house at 4 p.m. Thursday at its new facility, 1809 S. Neil St., C.

Tours of the center will be given, and Bella will offer specials and giveaways that day, according to Valerie Van Buren, Bella's wellness and anti-aging patient coordinator.

Jason times two

Jason Shanks and Jason Pratt are the artists at Iron Tide Gallery, a tattoo shop that opened Jan. 1 at 419 N. Gilbert St., Danville.

Shanks said the gallery is located in a Victorian house built in 1901 that once housed an antiques business.

Iron Tide Gallery is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. The phone number is 431-9232, and the website is

Coaching and counseling

The Urbana Business Association scheduled a ribbon-cutting last week for Blueprint, a business that offers a variety of services including business coaching, life coaching and mental health counseling.

Gina Johnson, a licensed clinical social worker at Blueprint, said she offered counseling services in St. Joseph before relocating to 2704 Boulder Drive in Urbana's Stone Creek Commons last year.

Johnson said she also sells T-shirts, sweat shirts, bracelets and buttons bearing her own Goodthingz brand at that location. The products promote a positive outlook and are intended to help people "recognize the good things in our community," she said.

Hours for Blueprint are by appointment. The phone numbers are 607-1678 and 469-9300.

Contact Don Dodson at 351-5227 or 800-252-3346; by email at; or by regular mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.