Cash registers, fireworks ring in new Arboretum mall in South Barrington
Despite constant talk of economic woes and financial bailouts, shoppers at Friday's grand opening of the Arboretum of South Barrington have faith the new shopping center will survive.
"They plan for the long term," said Hoffman Estates resident Jay Dolezal. "(The new center) isn't going to die in one year because of the economy."
The location of the 600,000-square-feet, $200 million shopping center - at Routes 72 and 59 in South Barrington, and at the high end of the retail spectrum - had shoppers thinking the mall will avoid any fallout from the current economic climate.
With many high-end stores, Janice Wright of Barrington Hills thinks the new outdoor center will be successful.
"Especially in this area," Wright said, referring the nearby upscale communities.
Mall developer Michael Jaffe said the new center wasn't built with just one year in mind.
"This is a project that is going to endure," he said. "We built this for years and years of memory-making."
Schaumburg's Cynthia Thielen walked out of L.L. Bean with a new purchase, but admitted she was a bit worried about the center.
"The economy is getting real bad, she said. "I don't know if the stores will survive."
Thielen said she knows the current financial crisis will put a strain on her wallet by not allowing her to buy nonessentials.
"If you don't need a new pair of jeans, then you don't buy a new pair," she said.
As a retiree, Dolezal said he too will be limiting his purchases this year.
"Things are bad," he said. "You have to cut back."
Though many had economic woes on their mind, hundreds still turned out for the center's opening celebration.
The highly produced affair included a performance by the "lizard acrobats and butterfly aerialists" of Wonderworld Entertainment, Wrigley Field regular Wayne Messmer singing the "National Anthem" and a small fireworks show.
South Barrington Village President Frank Munao, who had a fountain dedicated in his honor, thanked everyone who helped bring the shopping center to town.
"All of us came together to do what we had to do to make this what it is," Munao said.
Friday's events were the start of three days of festivities to mark the opening of the Arboretum.
Live entertainment, including a Chris Isaak concert set for 7 p.m. tonight, Sept. 27, and children's activities run through Sunday, Sept. 28.