Covering the Land of Lincoln

Businesses struggled to survive in downtown Rockford ‘ghost town’

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Business owners say foot traffic in downtown Rockford is nearly non-existent and making their survival impossible.

“It’s at the point where a lot of us are considering closing,” said Evangelina Jimenez, owner of Indigo, at an eyelash and nail salon, at 333 E State Street. “Or, switching the circumstances of our business, because of the fact that there is no foot traffic.”

Jimenez says her business was booming after the COVID-19 lockdowns were lifted. But, since then, it has slowed to unsustainable levels.

She said Indigo is considering shutting down its retail business and going into a full boutique business, saying the store will have to evolve in order to stay open.

One local business owner, who declined to be interviewed, called the downtown area a “ghost town.”

Andrea Kemp, at Arch Apothecary, 214 E State Street, said they have had to add new services to stay afloat and built a strong social media presence.

“As far as foot traffic goes, it hasn’t really affected us at all,” Kemp said. “I think it, obviously, helps that we have that [social media]. We have a strong following and we stay up to date with events, just to keep things exciting.”

Jimenez said if people don’t start investing in and shopping downtown, she says, there won’t be anything left but empty storefronts.

“It’s either stay on the same hours or help each other do events, whatever. We definitely need to come together and work it all out, so we can progress because it’s at a stopping point right now,” Jimenez said.

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