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OTR boutique owner: We are hopeful for the future of OTR

Idlewild Woman supports protesters
Posted at 4:47 PM, Jun 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-07 22:58:51-04

Over the past 15 years, Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood has become the envy of cities all over the country, for its unique boutiques, restaurants and coffee houses.

But after a two month shutdown, COVID-19 fears, and now unrest on the streets, can it ever recover?

Days of protests and unrest have taken a toll on popular Vine Street restaurants and boutiques, such as Senate, A Tavola, Off the Vine, Sloan boutique, Homage, and Idlewild Woman.

Tessa Clark is the manager of Idlewild Woman, an architectural gem that looks like a clothing boutique in Soho or Paris.

But like many other OTR stores, it is now empty of clothing, with boards over the front windows (though unlike other stores nearby, hers was not vandalized and looted).

"It has set us back a little bit, but we understand there are bigger problems here," Clark said.

Owner supports movement, protesters

Despite the lost business, Clark supports the Black Lives Matter protests. The boards covering her windows read "Racism is real, silence is compliance."

"We feel the peaceful protesters are not the ones who did the damage to the storefronts and the looting. And as a white business owner, I cannot stay silent about injustice," she said.

This year has been costly to Idlewild, however. Business is down dramatically, even with Instagram sales all Spring.

"We are just taking it one day at a time right now," Clark said. "We are not too worried. We are hopeful for the future of OTR and our business right now."

She says no one near her on Vine Street is giving up yet.

"I haven't heard personally of any business closing, which is a great sign right now," Clark said.

Many people who live around OTR say they are happy to hear that stores like Idlewild support their cause, and they say they plan to support these stores in return when they reopen.

"Stores moving from here is not going to solve the issue," Morgan Gaines said. "So being part of it and supporting us is the best thing."

Gaines appreciates Idlewild's involvement, down to the fliers posted on the door now with resources for protesters.

Tessa Clark hopes she can take the boards down and welcome in the community again in another week or two.

"We are definitely not going to flee to the suburbs," she said.

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