In DeKalb, one of the most treasured places for NIU students used to be the Village Commons Bookstore. The store was the top destination for students to purchase textbooks, NIU merchandise, art supplies and cute Christmas ornaments for their parents. But last year, VCB was unceremoniously shut down after 50 years partly due to a lack of student traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the store may be gone, the entire strip mall, 901 Lucinda Ave., needs to come back.
Within the span of a couple of years, Village Commons Bookstore, The Hot Spot and Pita Pete’s have all closed with nothing coming to replace them. While some businesses, like Cast Iron Coffee, have come out of the pandemic, it’s sad to see a once vibrant strip half full with one of NIU’s most prominent businesses shuttered forever.
The loss of VCB was sad enough, but The Hot Spot was a great convenience store that also provided great sandwiches and ice cream. Pita Pete’s had a great selection of food for students, most notably vegan students, according to a 2020 Northern Star article.
There are currently eight suites available in the strip, according to Realty.com. With these eight locations available, there could be so many possibilities for small businesses available. One notable business that has arisen from the ashes of COVID-19 was Cast Iron Coffee, which has been a popular mainstay for NIU students to study and drink one hell of a cappuccino.
We at NIU don’t necessarily need another bookstore, although that certainly couldn’t hurt since VCB was better than the current Holmes Student Center Bookstore in every conceivable way. But this space can’t be shuttered forever, especially since this location is prime real estate.
The VCB strip is located incredibly close to two NIU dorms, Neptune Hall and New Hall, and across the street from several academic buildings. As a student who has been at NIU for four years, I’ve seen a lot of businesses come and go. But that’s the great thing about DeKalb, notably the downtown area. When one business closes up, another arrives to take its place.
If only something could come along to fill the empty fronts of VCB, The Hot Spot, Pita Pete’s and the other barren locations in this once-mighty space.