1. Bergner’s Sheridan Village
This actually happened a while ago, but I never got around to writing about it until tonight. Bergner’s in Sheridan Village has closed its basement level to shoppers. A wall has been erected around the old down-escalator. The housewares and luggage that used to be in the basement has moved to the second floor. The children’s clothes on the second floor have moved to the main level. They no longer have a real suit department. The customer service area no longer offers customer service, gift wrapping or Ticketmaster service. And some brands, like Ralph Lauren, are no longer carried at the Sheridan Village store (although they are carried at the store in the Shoppes at Grand Prairie).
Bergner’s in Sheridan Village isn’t going away anytime soon (one of the associates there informed me that they just signed a new five-year lease), but in my opinion they’re on a slow, inexorable march to extinction. It reminds me of how the old Bergner’s downtown started closing floors until finally the store closed altogether. As they cut back on brands, overall stock, and customer service, it will naturally lead to more customers migrating to the store at the Shoppes, if not their competition. It’s too bad, because I and many people I know prefer the Sheridan Village location to Grand Prairie, as it’s more centrally-located and has a better layout.
2. Heart of Illinois Fair
My family went to the Heart of Illinois Fair today. We were there from about 1 until 4:30. Admission was $8 for adults, $4 for children 6-12, so for my family of five it cost $28 just to walk through the gate. The rides were provided by Miller Spectacular Shows, and included the old standbys — the Ferris wheel, the Scrambler, Tilt-a-Whirl — and many others (but not as many as there used to be). You could either buy $1 tickets for the rides (each ride required 2-3 tickets), or you could get a $15 wristband that gave you unlimited rides from noon until 6:00. (After 6, the wristbands went up to $20.) We got the wristbands, which set us back $75.
We didn’t have any trouble getting on the rides. There were no lines. Many of the rides included us and one other family; and on some, we were the only riders. When we pulled in the parking lot, we were one of no more than 50 cars. By the time we left, things had picked up a little — there were maybe 100 cars. There weren’t as many vendors as in the past. The place felt nearly deserted.
I remember when I was younger, the place would be packed — I mean PACKED — on a beautiful Saturday afternoon like we had today. You’d have trouble finding a place to park. I remember once having to park across Northmoor because the Expo Gardens lot was full. Of course, back then, they had real concerts in the evening (at no extra charge). And they had the Mighty Blue Grass Shows providing the rides, which included a roller coaster, Himalaya (“Do you want to go faster?”), Sky Wheel (what we used to call a double Ferris wheel), and Dream Machine (swings).
The kids had fun (and fell asleep before their heads hit their pillows tonight), but I left wondering if the fair would be back next year. They seem to be following the Journal Star management method: offer less and less each year for more and more money.