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Arlington Heights Independent Retailer Month Tour

July is Independent Retailer Month! This Month, Commissioner Britton is encouraging consumers to shop local and celebrate independent retailers. Independently owned small businesses create more sustainable cities, towns, and communities. Their inherent community involvement fosters resilient local economies in the midst of changing retail landscapes.

To highlight the importance of local independent retailers to communities after what has been an unprecedented year and a half, Commissioner Britton embarked on an Independent Retailer Tour in Arlington Heights.

The first stop on the Independent Retailer Month tour was Vintages Fine Wine Shop located at 32 S. Evergreen Avenue, where Commissioner Britton was joined by State Senator Ann Gillespie and State Representative Mark Walker. Owned by Robert Owings, Vintages sells over 600 wines from around the world and has been in business for 20 years. Despite being declared essential during the pandemic, Robert still saw a 50% drop in his business. He applied for and received EIDL funds from the Small Business Administration as well as PPP loans. Robert was grateful for the funding, which helped to keep the business afloat and employees on staff, and is very much looking forward to the future!

Next, Commissioner Britton and Representative Walker stopped at Northwest Metalcraft Fireplace & Patio. This family-owned business has been open for 75 years and is now being lead by the third and fourth generations of the family. Seventy percent of the products that Northwest Metalcraft sells - from indoor fireplaces to outdoor dining sets - are made in the United States. They reported being extraordinarily busy during the pandemic, as many households looked to home improvement projects.

Commissioner Britton and Representative Walker stopped for lunch at Dunton House. This Arlington Heights staple was purchased by longtime staff from the previous owners including Edmundo Zamarripa, who was a chef at Dunton House for 40 years. Edmundo is joined in ownership by his brother, Anastacio Zamarripa, and friends Isidro Gamboa and Francisco Castro. Edmundo's daughter, Carolina, is Dunton House's manager. Serving comfort classics in great portion sizes, this restaurant is a must-try.

After lunch, Commissioner Britton and Representative Walker visited The Think Tank. Founded by Dr. Matt Miklius, this local tutor group provides students with assistance with ACT/SAT preparation, standardized test preparation, college essays, and subject-specific tutoring. With students continuing to need assistance during hybrid learning, The Think Tank has continued to safely see students as they navigated virtual and distanced learning through the pandemic.

Following this, Commissioner Britton and Representative Walker visited Parrot Stars. Managed by mother-daughter duo Alexis Highland and Joyce Ernest, their exotic birds shop has been a labor of love. It began as a passion for the family's bird when Alexis was a child, and quickly evolved into a large storefront, a Florida breeding program, and a robust educational initiative for kids and adults. Parrot Stars is home to birds that are available for purchase and birds under Alexis and Joyce's constant care.

The last stop on Commissioner Britton's Independent Retailer Tour was the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. Executive Director Joe Keefe and Executive Operations Director Brookes Ebetsch gave a tour of Metropolis' intimate theater space and second-story classrooms for voice, acting, and music lessons. Metropolis has been active in the community, working frequently with Clearbrook, the Arlington Heights Senior Center, and the Northwest Special Recreation Association. While Metropolis was unable to have in-person performances during the pandemic, they were able to pivot to the streaming of prerecorded plays. They are currently hosting a tribute to Frank Sinatra in an outdoor venue in Arlington Heights, as well as small in-person camps for children


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