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posted: 6/4/2012 5:41 PM

Island Lake chamber seeks to reduce crime, boost sales for local businesses through plants

Island Lake project aims to lift sales rate

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  • Flower pots sit outside Any Kuts barber shop and Lakeland Dental in Island Lake, part of the village's "Put Some Spring in Your Business" campaign.

      Flower pots sit outside Any Kuts barber shop and Lakeland Dental in Island Lake, part of the village's "Put Some Spring in Your Business" campaign.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

By Jennifer Earl

Geraniums may be the answer for Island Lake business owners, who hope to see sales grow alongside blooming red flowers this summer.

The new "Put Some Spring in Your Business" campaign is led by the Island Lake Area Chamber of Commerce after it planted and pruned flowers outside of local shops.

Chamber President Linda Thomsen said the initiative stems from a study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that showed landscaping lowers crime rates and increases foot traffic, which she hopes will add to the local sales rate.

"We're all for that; those two things are good things," Thomsen said. "I don't know if there's that much crime to reduce, but we did inform businesses of the benefits."

The 2001 study showed buildings with high levels of vegetation had 48 percent fewer property crimes and 56 percent fewer violent crimes.

Researchers said good landscaping is a cue that owners care about their property and watch over it. They also said it relaxes people, reduces aggression and brings people together, which increases surveillance.

However, the study also shows too much vegetation can increase crime, providing cover for criminal activities.

Thomsen said some landscaping has been removed to make businesses more visible.

Currently, 23 Island Lake businesses are participating in the initiative by planting the flowers outside of their shops. Owners could purchase a ready-made terra cotta pot for $35 to $45, while anyone who already had planters was able to buy only flowers.

Debi Calvin, chamber member and owner of Andre Salon & Spa, 113 E. Route 176, who helped spearhead the project, contacted a local Indian Princesses tribe to help plant the flowers to earn a badge.

On May 19, the girls and their fathers helped put together flower pots and distributed them to local businesses.

"It was nice to have a communitywide effort," Calvin said.

Chamber members said the current flower pots are just a steppingstone for years to come.

The chamber plans to build this initiative in coming years by adding more flowers and increasing the number of participants. The next major project will be decorating for the winter months, which may include evergreen branches.

Trustee Chuck Cermak, chairman of the village's economic development committee and owner of a local barber shop, Any Kuts, 119 E. Route 176, said he's already noticed a difference by putting flowers outside of his shop.

"People are noticing them; they think it's a great idea to spruce up the town," Cermak said. "It's nice to have. Every business on my section has one."

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