Akira's Empire Expands to Indiana, Hyde Park

Not all companies are taking it on the chin in this rough economy. Akira, the Chicago-based clothing boutique, has lots of plans to expand in an impressive way in the coming year. More specifically, Crain's is reporting that Akira intends to open an 18th store -- its first outside of Illinois -- in the Merrillville Westfield Southlake Mall and its 19th location in Hyde Park by this fall.

“Any time I open a new store, I tend to be 20 percent excited and 80 percent scared as hell,” Akira co-owner Eric Hsueh told Crain's, “but I'd say I'm 60 percent excited and 40 percent scared about the Hyde Park location.”

The Hyde Park location is decidedly outside of the boutique's comfort zone: It's in a vacant Border's that's 8,000-square feet, and at that size will be designated as the new flagship store.

However, not all of that massive space will be used by Akira. The University of Chicago now owns that property and is leasing the front two-thirds of the first floor to Akira. The rest will become "a daycare center or restaurant that doesn't need the visibility."

Maybe the economy is actually starting to turn around? Or maybe it's only starting to turn around for the most fabulous dressers?

Read more about the announcement over at Crain's.

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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