What started out as an array of handmade soaps and body products sold at local farmer’s markets, is now ending as a full-scale retail shop in downtown Westmont, selling products which feed the heart and soul. The body products were merely the foundation for a business which has items ranging from alive to dead, from straight-and-narrow to whimsy, and from “grab and go” to “some assembly required.” After seven years in business both in north-central Illinois and in Westmont, owner Jenny Maison has made the decision to close her store, Blue Beaker, for good. The store, located on the west side of Cass Avenue just two blocks north of the Westmont Metra station, is bound to see a steady stream of tears from customers who wish this was not the end.
“I carry things I would want to to buy,” said Maison of her eclectic choice of wares back in February of this year. The store has a yarn room, a spinner with colorful coin purses and socks, shelves full of artisan jewelry and handmade accessories, and even a table full of adult coloring books. Knitters and crocheters meet at her store every Wednesday night for a social, non-teaching knitting hour. Maison hopes to continue hosting a group of knitters on Wednesday nights, regardless of the store closing.
While the decision to close was not made on a whim, customers were still surprised by the announcement on Friday. A simple email went out to the customers on Blue Beaker’s mailing list, and it was re-posted on both the store’s website and its facebook page. The end-of-business clearance sale began the following day, with comments from customers flooding the Blue Beaker social media pages almost instantly. “It is not uncommon for small businesses to close down – or to hear that the business “failed”. I don’t consider this another failed business,” said Maison in her announcment. “The opportunities, friends and adventures that Blue Beaker has brought to us have been more than we expected and better than we could have ever imagined.”
Currently, items in the store are 20% to 50% off, excluding the handmade soaps and lip balms. Knitters and crocheters can get great deals on yarns from Cascade, Kraemer, and Plymouth, among other brands. There are also many sweater and afghan quantities available for larger projects, and one-skein project balls in every weight from lace to bulky.
With Maison having some flexibility on when her store needs to close, store hours are currently sporadic. For updates, customers can follow the Blue Beaker facebook page, or they can call the store phone number at 630-963-1330. There are still plenty of yarns, small items, body products, and jewelry items available for purchase at a discount. However, Maison contends that a thank-you to her customers cannot be enough of an exchange for supporting and patronizing her business for the past seven years. Customers are actually doing their part in reminding us that large corporations are only a portion of the retail sector: they are thanking her.