You’ll have to wait until after “z’man simchasenu”, Sukkos, before welcoming Rosenblum’s World of Judaica to its new home at 9153 Gross Point Road in Skokie, Illinois.
Soon to be located at the core of what Mr. Avi Fox, who has owned Rosenblum’s World of Judaica since 1990, called the “Gross Point Corridor”, he spoke with me enthusiastically of his choice of a new location.
“The hub of Jewish social life has shifted to Skokie,” Mr. Fox asserted with the acumen of a professor of sociology, adding the new address had been exhaustively researched.
“We are forced to move from our Devon Avenue address,” he went on to explain, “where Rosenblum’s has done business successfully for thirty-seven years because the neighborhood “is no longer economically viable.”
Rosenblum’s proximity to three kosher restaurants: Tabouns at the corner of Dempster and Gross Point and coming soon to Skokie as Rosenblum’s new next door neighbor, EJ’s Kosher Pizzeria, (across from the Skokie Park District’s Weber Center) and a block from Bagel Country at Gross Point and Skokie Boulevard “promises to be a great location.”
“Skokie Boulevard,” though currently undergoing repairs-will remain in all likelihood “a very congested street.,” he added.
“The Devon Avenue of today no longer offers the same customer friendly environment it once did. Walk-in trade, which used to bring in much more volume, has declined. Devon Avenue’s demographic dynamic,” Mr. Fox astutely explained, “has changed radically in recent years.”
As a consequence, “Rosenblum’s-as well as other Jewish retail establishments-have experienced loss of sales and customer base.”
Confined between California and Kedzie Avenues, a distance of no more than three blocks, Rosenblum’s move from the neighborhood is a sign of the times whose days are numbered and not helped, Mr. Fox seemed to suggest, by the new parking payment system which “many customers are still trying to figure out”.
“However,” he was quick to point out, “West Rogers Park remains a viable Jewish community, especially its northern portion, unlike Devon Avenue which lies on “its southern edge”.
“It’s become an international shopping district” which will soon lose the remainder of its Jewish component,” he further explained.
As the community moves northward, so must Jewish retail,” Mr. Fox stated unequivocally, continuing, as we will, to offer “the finest in Jewish books and Judaica”.
Toward the end of our fifteen minute telephone interview, Mr. Fox-who had spoken authoritatively of the dynamic sociology of Devon Avenue-was clear in his belief the remaining days of “Jewish Devon Avenue” were few in number and only a matter of time before becoming remembrances in the history of Jewish Chicago.
For its part, Rosenblum’s World of Judaica, can trace its history as far south as Roosevelt Road, making its way north, stopping off on Lawrence Avenue two blocks east of Central Park for many years (which the writer of this piece remembers) and then moving further north to Devon Avenue where it has been for the last thirty-seven years serving the entire Jewish community.
“We serve the Jewish community inclusively as well as the non-Jewish community,” Mr. Fox proudly declared.
A landmark institution in Chicago’s Jewish history and bellwether of what had once been a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, Rosenblum’s will hold “a huge Sifrei Kodesh Inventory Reduction Blow Out Sale” from August 8th through the 15th.
Call 773 262-1700 for more information and/or visit on-line at www.alljudaica.com.
A special thank you to Mr. Avi Fox for his kindness and generosity of time. May 5771 be a happy, healthy and blessed New Year for Rosenblum’s World of Judaica and all of Klal Yisroel.