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Another One Bites the Dust: The Alley Moving to Avondale

Chicago Retail

The hosannas are flowing for The Alley, the iconic Lakeview retail outlet that has called Clark and Belmont home for nearly four decades. Owner Mark Thomas announced the store's closing late yesterday, most likely by the end of the year.

Thomas cited a number of factors for his decision to close: the rise of online shopping, a spike in neighborhood crime and the city's focus on increasing downtown tourism among them. Ultimately, however, it was nearby construction that forced Thomas' hand, according to DNA Info. The former Dunkin' Donuts at the corner of Clark and Belmont (aka the "Punkin' Donuts") was demolished in February to make way for an eight-story, mixed-use retail and residential TOD. Thomas, a former candidate for alderman who supported the project, said the loss of foot traffic stemming from the construction forced his hand, and he accepted an offer from a developer.

The Alley grew from a true head shop, where the only entrance to the store was in the alley, into a retail pillar in Lakeview selling everything from clothing to marital aids. Thomas managed to adapt to the changing demographics in the neighborhood for decades. He hopes to reopen The Alley in his home neighborhood of Avondale next year. [DNA]