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The Niche’s 2022 In Joliet Has Branden Robinson Excited

Branden Robinson expects retail sales at The Niche to surge in 2022 after launching his clothes store in downtown Joliet in June — eight months after a shooting on a nearby municipal sidewalk wrecked his grand opening party.

Robinson is having a yellow tag sale now through the month of January to get things started. 103 North Ottawa St., Suite C is his address.

“I’m ready to take on the new year,” Robinson told the editor of the Joliet Patch during an interview at his store on Wednesday. “I want people to come in and see it for themselves.” When people walk in, they notice something they like. It’s only a matter of getting them here.”

From now through Jan. 31, every clothes and items inside The Niche will be reduced by 15% to 60%.

The Niche is located across the street from Harrah’s Casino & Hotel in Joliet. It’s one of two new apparel businesses in Joliet industrialist Noe Patino’s Plaza 66, on the corner of North Ottawa and Van Buren Streets, that opened this summer.

The Artesano Store, managed by Leo Gonzalez, is the other.

The Niche is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, according to Robinson. On Mondays and Sundays, he is closed.

Robinson told Patch in an interview on Wednesday that his first-ever yellow tag sale is in response to feedback from many customers.

“There were a number of individuals here who believed the pricing was a touch too expensive,” Robinson admitted. “The yellow sticker pricing is actually based on consumer feedback.”

Women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing are available at The Niche. The Niche has a vast selection of coats, sweatshirts, T-shirts, and hoodies throughout the storefront, as well as rhinestone belts and paintings.

Robinson remarked, “I do sell art.”

The Niche was supposed to open in late October 2020, but the celebration was ruined by a horrible shooting right outside Robinson’s new retail store on Saturday night.

A gunman inside a car started a fire at 8:40 p.m. One of the employees and a customer were hit by gunfire while standing on the sidewalk behind The Niche, according to Robinson.

Before the Joliet police squad cars arrived, the getaway car drove into the alley behind the old St. Mary Carmelite Church.

One of the victims was treated in a Joliet hospital and released, while the other, a 20-year-old woman, was taken to Loyola. She was initially in serious condition, but Patch was informed by Joliet police that her condition had stabilized.

“It was aimed at a certain customer,” Robinson explained on Wednesday. “We aided the victims.” I dragged them in and pulled them in (The Niche). We continued to apply pressure to their legs. They made a full recovery.”

“At least 60 individuals were in the store that night,” she said. “It was jam-packed,” Robinson said.

A handful of shots even hit the windows of the new $215 million Will County Courthouse, which is just a few blocks away. According to Robinson, the shooter was not a 25-year-old Joliet man who was arrested by Joliet police for having a pistol in his possession.

City of Joliet officials placed a red label on the building, which was renamed Plaza 66 by Joliet commercial developer Noe Patino, just days after the shooting.

Plaza 66 was not red-tagged as a result of the shooting, according to Robinson. Rather, the property’s occupancy licenses had not been granted by city building inspectors.

Patino bought the old Montgomery Ward building in 2018 and has been restoring it since then. According to Will County court records, a mortgage foreclosure complaint brought against Patino’s Investments in August was settled.

The foreclosure complaint, according to Patino, was merely a misunderstanding.

According to Robinson, the 14-month-old sidewalk shooting was the last time Joliet cops were seen in the vicinity of The Niche.

With the shooting behind him, Robinson said he expects a solid year of retail sales in 2022, as well as a significant increase in his customer base.

He’s thinking about making something comparable to the well-known “Kohl’s Cash” coupons.

In addition, for a nominal cost of $1, Robinson is allowing visitors to the Will County Courthouse to leave their cell phones at The Niche. Several people have already taken use of the program, he said.

Cell phones are not permitted to be brought into the courthouse by visitors.

Overall, Robinson believes that selling items at pricing that people find appealing and bringing in new top-of-the-line merchandise will be the keys to his success in 2022.

According to Robinson, The Niche aims to be known for its wide range of clothes apparel.

For the sale, most of the clothes at The Niche are reduced by 30 to 40%, according to Robinson.

“It’ll be the entire month of January,” Robinson stated emphatically. “Even if you don’t have a ticket, everything is 15% discounted.” Some people have a 50 percent or 60 percent chance of winning.

“This is a brand-new business. I’m interested to see how this goes because if I can turn things around faster while making less money, that’s good with me. “I’d like for folks to come in.”

Most importantly, Robinson is enthusiastic about the continued growth of retail establishments and niche shops in downtown Joliet.

Robinson is excited about the potential of becoming a member of the Joliet Chamber of Commerce in 2022, he said. The owners of Willow Springs’ Dragon’s Den Shop have just launched their second retail location in Joliet, near The Niche, at the corner of Ottawa and Clinton Streets.

About 800 Funko pop vinyl figurines, as well as collectible toys from Power Rangers, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Star Wars, sports, horror movies, and more, can be found at Dragon’s Den.

Patch reported in early December that Ashley Duncan and Jasmine Foster had started a new photography studio. Studio 88 Selfie Suites, located in downtown Joliet’s historic Barber Building on North Chicago Street, is a first of its sort for the Joliet area.

The retail boom in downtown Joliet, according to Robinson, “feeds off each other.”

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