St. Charles religious store owner contemplates future

Updated 1/4/2014 6:13 PM
  • Seen through a host of angel figurines is Michael Kulpin, the operator of Angel Kisses in St. Charles.

      Seen through a host of angel figurines is Michael Kulpin, the operator of Angel Kisses in St. Charles. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Even in good times, it's not likely you could describe Angel Kisses in St. Charles as a robust business. But it served what one might describe as worldwide purpose in selling religious merchandise, books and gifts.

The small store at 504 E. Main St. also has fascinated the faithful since John and Patricia Kulpin opened it in 1992, as the store owners and visitors alike cite miraculous occurrences that give the store special meaning.

"Some amazing things have happened here," said Michael Kulpin, who operates the store now for his parents, both of whom have had serious health setbacks.

Deacon John Kulpin suffered a heart attack on Christmas Eve, adding more stress for the family that's already worried about what will become of the religious store.

"The construction on Main Street in St. Charles the past two years, plus the work on Route 25 before it, has knocked our business down at least 60 percent," Kulpin said.

Unfortunately, the end of the construction project didn't equate to customers coming back to the store, Kulpin said.

"For some reason, people have forgotten we are here," Kulpin said. "It certainly is not what it used to be."

Currently, the family has no timetable or plans for closing or selling the store, though Kulpin knows the reality of economics. Still, he understands the importance of Angel Kisses in the religious world.

"There is a statute here of the Mother Mary and the face turns a shade of red, and I have seen a tear coming from it as well," Kulpin says.

In addition, the shop sent Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa 13-inch statuettes of Mother Mary with a baby rosary around its neck.

"Mother Teresa wrote us a beautiful letter about that," Kulpin adds.

The D'Lite is gone: It seemed like Paul Chaudury had a good idea and a good thing going when he opened his Fresh D'Lite restaurant in the Geneva Commons three years ago.

A winning combination was in place with fresh, healthy food that also tasted quite good.

When he opened his place, Chaudury mentioned a few times that the consumer stigma for "healthy" food was that it simply did not carry the flavor of its high-calorie, high-fat and high-sodium counterparts.

He had that part licked. What apparently caught up to him was the math of retail economics -- you can't pay more for rent than what your profits will allow.

In a farewell email to his customers before the restaurant closed on Dec. 28, Chaudury and his family said the experience of operating Fresh D'Lite was "unparalleled." But it also came with a high price tag for rent in the Commons, he said.

"We now have to explore a better rent-to-sales ratio to keep our unique concept going," Chaudury said.

The family has been looking for a new location, some in the area, some farther away, he added.

Hopefully, we'll hear something soon about where Chaudury intends to set up shop again. He's got some followers in the Tri-Cities, but that doesn't guarantee the Fresh D'Lite sign will find a new home in our area.

Replaces 'Stars' event: As a member of the planning committee for the "Dancing With The Geneva Stars" fundraising event the past five years, I know that this week would annually mark one in which the final push to the February event would start.

While last year's dancing event was the finale for that fundraiser, the Geneva Cultural Arts Commission is combining the arts and food in a replacement event.

"Eat Your Art Out!" will take place Feb. 20 at the Herrington Inn. It will feature a four-course dinner and three wine pairings to go along with an art display of various mediums. The art will be for sale as part of a post-dinner live auction.

Check the Geneva Cultural Arts Commission website for more information.

A fitting drive: The way this winter has played out in its early stages, it would be hard to find a more appropriate charitable cause than conducting a coat drive to help families that need winter gear.

For the fourth time, Pro Energy Consultants of Geneva is organizing a coat drive for Wayside Cross Ministries in Aurora.

Owners Jerry and Billie Needham have coat drop-off boxes at Confident Aire and All Spooked Up in Batavia, as well as Gibby's Wine Den in Geneva and Fox Valley Physical Therapy and Wellness in St. Charles.

Area residents are encouraged to drop off coats and sweaters of all sizes and colors through Jan. 21 at these locations, or contact the Needhams at (630) 770-4994.

The Needhams chose the One Warm Coat national program concept and added their own concepts in collecting more than 200 coats last year.

"We are in the comfort business," Needham said in a news release. "Therefore, we wanted to highlight the concept of being warm and comfortable."

Some music today: Those who enjoy excellent music and would like to help raise money for the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra scholarship have a place to go Sunday.

The third annual EYSO Faculty Benefit Recital will take place from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Spartan Auditorium at the Elgin Community College Arts Center, 1700 Spartan Drive.

Geneva Middle School music instructor Jason Flaks, also an EYSO faculty member, will play trumpet in the free concert. Flaks is conductor of the sinfonia and brass choir.

Tickets should be reserved in advance by visiting, or calling (847) 622-0300.

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