Our Future

Hello Everyone!  We hope you are all staying healthy and enjoying the change of seasons.

We wanted to let you know about our dreams for the future of Vogue Fabrics.  About ten years ago, we started analyzing the best parts of our business and the parts that needed to improve.  So many things have changed since we, the third generation owners, took over the business.  An idea formulated:  what if we combined our retail store on Main Street and our Wholesale Warehouse on Hartrey into one location?  This would improve so many things for us.  Here are some of our guiding thoughts:

1]  Open floor plan.
     The Department Store layout of the Main Street store is out of date with the way people like to shop today.  All the alcoves and blind spots make it hard for our staff to see everything and everyone. With an open floor plan we could put products in groupings that make more sense (knits all together, clearance all together, silks all together, all threads in one location, zippers with the other notions, etc). 

2]  Central checkout
     With a single place for cutting, we could streamline the process of in-store order fulfillment.  We would also be maximizing the efficiency of our staff, having some cutting while the others are on the sales floor assisting customers.  More customer friendly.

3]  Wholesale and Retail together
     Over the last several years, we have seen an increase of cross-over sales between the retail store and the warehouse.  People want to buy a whole bolt of muslin or interfacing for their workroom or classroom, but need smaller cuts of fashion fabrics for their projects.  Also, if someone needed fabric and the retail store didn't have enough, that person would come to the warehouse to buy what they needed from us rather than wait for a special order to be transferred to the store (involving a second trip to come get the fabric).  It's the Amazon effect:  customers want it now.  By having everything together, we could improve the customer experience.

4]  Speed up online order fulfillment time
     Many of our online customers order products from both locations.  Each location needs to fill their part of the order, then the two parts need to be combined for shipping.  The warehouse is closed on the weekends, the retail store is closed Wednesday and Sunday, so there can be delays in order fulfillment.  We want to remain competitive, especially when the biggest online fabric retailer is owned by Amazon, so speeding up processing times would be great for everyone.

5]  Streamlining business operations
     By combining the two locations, we could eliminate duplications in office supplies and reduce things like utilities, and the biggie: property tax.  This would make us financially healthier to continue on into the future.

What does this mean for you?
     We are selling our building on Main Street.  It's obsolete.  The amount of money we have to continually pump into replacing and fixing just doesn't make sense.  The layout doesn't make sense. As a commercial property, as opposed to a mixed-use property, it is in the highest property tax bracket which is a killer for us.  The best thing for us and for the neighborhood at this point is to knock the building down and put up a mixed use building with apartments and some retail space.  We have a prospective buyer - an Evanstonian who grew up on Main Street and went to District 65 schools and ETHS.  

What does this mean for us?
     We are in limbo right now.  We can't buy a new building until we know we can sell the Main Street location.  We need the money from the sale of the building to move forward.  We did start this process a couple years ago with a different buyer, and it fell through, so we are waiting to make sure this deal is solid. The buyers and builders have to present their plans to the City of Evanston and go through many hoops before they get approved or denied. We do want to stay in the area, to retain our staff and our customer base, and we have been actively looking at properties. 

The vision of the buyer for the Main Street property is:
     -  To create a building that is comparable in height to the other apartment buildings on Sherman and west on Main St.
     -  Offer only 2 small retail spaces, so they don't oversaturate the neighborhood with a half block of retail.  
     -  To NOT ask for TIF money.
     -  Provide 10% of the apartments as affordable housing instead of paying the city to opt out.
     -  Provide parking in the building. The 47 spaces in this proposal will balance the needs of the people who want to own cars with the trend of the young professionals who opt out of owning cars and live near public transit systems.

So, now you all know what we are up to.  We hope to garner your support and keep you as loyal Vogue fans.  

Thank you all for your love and support,

Rogie, Aaron and Sean Sussman
Third generation owners, Vogue Fabrics