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The Blade – Learn from a Model for Success

Recently, some of the members of the Specialty Shop Group traveled to Libertyville, Illinois. Their host and tour guide was Donna Roman who is now a Fairbury resident and realtor who moved here from Libertyville a couple years ago.

Donna had lived in Libertyville a northern Chicago suburb for approximately 30 years. Since her husband was retired, they were looking to move closer to their children who live in Paxton.   As they were searching for a home, they fell in love with the “Castle” on Ash Street and moved to Fairbury.

Thirty years ago, Libertyville was going through a rough time. The main street had approximately a 30% vacancy with buildings for sale or rent, and the businesses that were open had stiff competition from a nice shopping district complete with malls and parks just down the road a couple miles. Fast forward 30 years, today Libertyville is a bustling, affluent suburb, “A City in the Country,” as Donna says, “that attracts many people each year to its quaint, clean and beautiful business district. “

During the 30 years Donna lived in Libertyville, she was an active player in building and growing the area. As a realtor, Donna was in the midst of the drive to enhance and shape the town to what it is today – a miraculous transformation to say the least.

Donna has shared her dream of transforming Fairbury with the Specialty Shops Group, and with the trip to Libertyville, it helped bring reality to the picture.

“Fairbury has so many attributes to make it a success story,” says Sally Goembel owner of Lost in Time, Lost Arts, and Timeless Treats. “We have uniqueness, great history, and connections. We have great people who work hard and are passionate about living here. We are working on pulling together the volunteers, ideas, and ingenuity to create our own dream of Fairbury becoming an attraction throughout the State (and the country). ”

“Right now, it feels overwhelming,” says Roberta Meyer, owner of Meyers Gifts and Services. “However, in meeting Donna and some of the folks that put Libertyville on the map, it helps to see that this is all very possible!”

In speaking with Pam Hume, the Executive Director of Libertyville’s Main Street program, the group learned a lot about holding events, fundraising, and some of the keys to successfully building up a business district.

“It starts with people who have a passion,” says Donna. “like Libertyville, Fairbury has what it takes. There is a place for anyone and everyone who has an interest in helping out.”

In future columns, we plan to share more about specific things Libertyville did that aided its success. All ideas, inquiries, and input are welcomed by calling Bobbi McKeon at 815-692-4500.