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South Michigan Avenue Storeowners Keep The Faith, Despite Obstacles Including Diminished Foot Traffic, Pandemic

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A stretch of South Michigan Avenue, from 111th to 115th in Roseland, is struggling.

CBS 2's Jim Williams tells us, some merchants are not giving up, despite the overwhelming odds against them.

"When you can remember the glory days and you look at how things have deteriorated, it saddens you."

Sad, yes, to see Roseland today: Long abandoned storefronts boarded up and gated. To recall how this stretch of South Michigan Avenue once looked, teaming with shoppers, when sidewalk sales and Santa's visits were commonplace.

"Back in the day, people would rather come to South Michigan Avenue here in Roseland than to go downtown. Because we had all of the same amenities here as they had downtown."

And yet, Eddie Davis, owner of Bass Furniture and Ledall Edwards, owner of Edwards Fashions remain on South Michigan Avenue. This despite little foot traffic, a pandemic and now supply shortages right before Christmas.

"We've got dress shirts and my inventory is low," Edwards said.

The simple white shirt is harder to come by. Orders made long ago is now slow to arrive.

"I ordered merchandise in January 2021. I expected it to be here by now. It hasn't come," Davis said.

"It's disappointing when you can't meet that demand from your customers," Edwards added.

As if they needed any more obstacles. In 1979, Ledall's father started a business group in Roseland. They had about 70 members then, up and down the street. Today, that number is around 10.

Among them: Edwards and Davis. Two longtime allies, together, determined to keep South Michigan alive. For themselves and for their community.

"The majority are good people. They want the same thing everybody else wants," Edwards said. "And that's what really gets me up and motivated and come to work because I know I can provide service for people in the community."

Eddie Davis, now 79 years old, vows to keep working right here.

"I'll be here for at least another 20, 25 years."

Both merchants said they're expect last minute Christmas shoppers to visit South Michigan Avenue.


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