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Lamps and Shades in Glen Ellyn to close its doors after 43 years

GLEN ELLYN – A sign prominently displayed in Lamps and Shades Ltd. states, "Buying a lamp shade without your lamp is like buying a hat without your head."

For the past 43 years, Lamps and Shades has been working to match the right shade to whatever lamp the customer brought in. The store, located at 20 N. Park Blvd., also sells a variety of lamps.

At the end of May, the store will close its doors as owner Jeanette Hancock, 75, of Wheaton gets ready to retire.

"It's time," she said.

Hancock started the business with a friend she had met while attending Bradley University. He had started a business in St. Joseph, Mich. – Lake Shore Studios – manufacturing lamps and lamp shades and was looking for a retail store to carry his products.

"Since his hometown was Glen Ellyn and I lived in Wheaton, we felt it was a natural [fit] for us to open the store here," she said. "There wasn't anything, especially in the western suburbs, that was a specialized store selling lamps and lamp shades. Department stores did carry shades, but not that many. We wanted to sort of be a boutique store that gave really good service and had a really high-quality product."

Her friend has since died, and Lake Shore Studios closed. Lamps and Shades had been selling his products until eight or nine years ago, Hancock said.

The store opened in April 1974 in a small narrow building along Main Street in downtown Glen Ellyn. Lamps and Shades quickly outgrew the space and moved to its current location in 1977.

"We were bursting at the seams," Hancock said. "We expanded the lines and had a lot more room to have a lot of different kinds of shades."

About 15 years ago, Lamps and Shades decided to branch out into antique lamp restoration.

"I would pick up lamps in travels around the country," she said. "We would restore them or refinish them, rewire them and then sell them with our shades. We were always looking for a unique lamp, something that you wouldn't be able to buy anywhere else. So with either the antique lamps or the lamps that we made from vases, you could do that. It would be one of a kind."

Lamps and Shades sells an array of lamp shades.

"I think when people come in here they are really surprised at how many different styles there are," Hancock said. "They'll bring their old lamp shade in and expect to find something to match it. It's not going to happen because there is nothing standard in lamp shades. They are all over the board. So that's why we always used to recommend that if you were coming in for a lamp shade, to make sure you bring your lamp base with because in order to fit a lamp, we needed the lamp base."

Before the store closes May 31, all merchandise is 30- to 70-percent off.

Hancock and her staff spend a lot of time with customers to make sure they leave happy.

"Our goal is to make sure the customer likes the shade, and it fits perfectly," she said.

The store has many longtime staff members, such as Priscilla Eick, who has been working at Lamps and Shades for 19 years.

"We show customers the possibilities, and they get excited," she said. "I like that aspect of the job. Working with the customers is always a hoot."

After the store closes its doors for good in May, Hancock expects to be spending more time outdoors – on a golf course.

"I will just be playing a lot of golf," she said. "I'm a very competitive person."


If you go

What: Lamps and Shades Ltd.

Where: 20 N. Park Blvd., Glen Ellyn


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