No Fat Chicks' Store


Reader Eric Reeb hips us to the latest attack on the chubs of the U.S.: Oak Park, Illinois, "long celebrated for its diversity," may be trying squeeze plus-size retailer Lane Bryant out of a public-private shopping center. The Chicago Tribune lets it all hang out like Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure:

The developer said it had a signed lease to move retailer Lane Bryant into the building at 1116 Lake St., but Oak Park officials would not allow the retailer to move in, telling [developer] RSC that the store is not of the "kind and quality" the town seeks.

Oak Park officials dispute RSC's version of events, though the town manager calling RSC's spokesman "a fucking fat-ass fuckwad" really bolsters the developer's case, I think. But that's just me.

In any case, it strikes me that this fat suit is in many ways a distraction from the larger, more pernicious issue of public sector development:

Because the village bought and assembled the properties in the development site, the village and the developer signed a redevelopment agreement in March 2004 giving Oak Park final say over tenants in the Lake Street development.

I'm guessing there's a whole lot of eminent domain, favoritism, zoning shenanigans, and much more at work here.

Lane Bryant claims that 62 percent of U.S. women wear a plus size. Trib story here. Chicago Sun-Times' take, including a note that Oak Park was named one of America's "sexiest" suburbs last year, here.

A meditation on American fatness and manifest destiny here.

Is the size of your butt the government's business? Jacob Sullum says no here.

A.S. Hamrah chewed on the semiotics of celebrity fat suits for Reason here.

Reason on eminent domain issues here.


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  1. I was going to send this story in, but after reading it it looked like the town wanted an upscale plus-size shop. It’s OK to be fat as long as you’ve got lots of money.

  2. “…giving Oak Park final say…”

    No — giving politicians, bureaucrats and would-be central planners final say. There’s a difference.

    Towns don’t make decisions, people make decisions.

  3. Why is there an apostrophe after “Winters”?

  4. Did the village manager really call the RSC spokesman “a fucking fat-ass fuckwad”?

  5. Poetic justice, I’d say, for the developer who was fine with the government screwing others to assemble the development site but angry when the government turned and screwed him.

  6. The offending apostrophe is gone.

  7. Lane Bryant is one of the few stores my daughter can buy stylish clothes in her size. Its the first place we go at the mall.

  8. In any case, it strikes me that this fat suit is in many ways a distraction from the larger, more pernicious issue of public sector development:

    Querry: Is Oak Park incorporated?

    If so, please define legal preference of one corporation over another. Unless you are anti-corporate?

    Are you arguing against corporations rights to develop property?

    Which corporation should triumph, and is either type restricted from any action under a libertarian code other than the market (in this case would “the market” be defined by who lives there, if one does not like the corporation, one can remove oneself from the vicinity)?

    Why is one corporation “government” and the other not? Both depend on the force of government to assert their existence, rather than a market, unless this is the market, competing governmental and semi-governmental entities.

    Simply put, why should I favor one style of incorporation over another? Because one is tied to a particular geographic area while the other is tied to a style of merhant behaviour?

    One is backed by the capital inherent in property, one is backed by currency and market valuation.

    Why should one be favored over the other in a contractual dispute? Is not a property deed a share of the corporation and its assets? Would this be differnt than a gated community? Would it be ok then? Or would partial control of the mall by Oak Park only be acceptable if: 1. They gated the community and 2. Retained ownership of the property and rented to the developer?

    Is a gated community based on private charter obliged to act any differently than Oak Park? Or visa versa?

  9. Pretty clear to me that this is just a case of public planners accidentally letting their elitist slips show…

  10. As both a planner, and as someone who ain’t got nothing against the big beautiful girls, this is outrageous.

  11. I don’t see what the big deal is. Lane Bryant isn’t particularly lowbrow; it’s merely affordable to middle-class “riff-raff”. Granted, it’s not an upscale store, but it’s not “Dress Barn”, either. If I were big enough, I would probably shop there (Lane Bryant, not Dress Barn).

  12. I used to live in Oak Park.

    They had a specially instituted city plan to have not enough parking spaces for all the autos and cars were not allowed on the street between 3AM and 5AM (I think). So to avoid a ticket you got up at 2:30AM ahd watched where the cops checked and parked in that area after they left. We called it the Oak Park shuffle.

    There are some things the Oak Park planners will not tolerate. Enough parking spaces was one of them.

    BTW a 50 sqft. patch of driveway rented for $50 a month. This was all back in ’88 things may have changed.

  13. Oak Park is AFAICT a municipality that’s tried to act as if it were a private community. My familiarity with it was from the 1970s, when housing in Oak Park was controlled by an authority that was a central clearing house for rentals and sales. They followed a policy of racial awareness, designed & administered by “liberals” to keep it from becoming segregated. That is, they practiced discrimination to preserve what would now be called “diversity”. That meant they tried to preserve a certain ratio of the races, which included not allowing too many blacks in for fear the town would “tip” and become too unattractive for whites, for then it would no longer be integrated, you see.

  14. I live in Oak Park right now and I have to say this confuses me considerably because we haven’t seen anything here about it.

    Oak Park is rather weird, anyway. We have a few upscale blocks surrounded by a plethora of strip-mall/ethnic food stores/check cashing places. Mixture of ritzy upscale and cheap, cheap, cheap.

    Dunno why they’d be making a fuss about Lane Bryant unless a) they think the place is too small for a clothing store b) the powers-that-be have in their minds “reserved” it for “something more upscale.” I think I know the location they’re talking about; my guess is (a).

  15. Robert,

    I live in Oak Park presently. The Oak Park Housing Authority does practice discrimination in that they steer black people to areas with more white people and vice versa, but they don’t stop people from living where they choose. There is no quota on how many black people can move into town.

    This program may or may not have outlived its usefulness, but it can be stated that the communities surrounding us were plagued by white flight and the accompanying drop in property values. Austin is the neighborhood of Chicago that we touch on the west. Austin has very similar housing stock and was home to an Irish community until the late 60s when they fled the great influx of people with more melanin. Property values plummeted then and have still not recovered. Oak Park, on the other hand, has seen over the years some of the greatest appreciation in the area, let alone the country. People move here because of the racial and economic mix. (I did.) I would say that this is one gov’t program of planning and discrimination that has worked well.
    Mind you, I am a bad libertarian because, in truth, I like the idea of city-state republics where citizens can opt for some planning as long as it’s all under very local control.

    M. Simon,

    The first thing our landlord told us when we moved to our first apartment in Oak Park was to look out for the parking police gestapo [Godwin!] A few weeks and $150 later, we finally got it. They are still a royal pain, but not too bad once you get the swing of parking. They have added a ton of parking downtown.

    and finally,

    Ironically, I think a Dress Barn just closed up shop in downtown O.P.

  16. Oak Park is damn gay. Last year, the board voted down (on a tie vote I think) allowing a for-profit college (like DeVry or something like that) from renting out space in a building. The reason for those who voted against was that it wasn’t the kind of business Oak Park wanted.

    Oak Park hates America. I hope they get an AIDS breakout soon.

  17. Village President David Pope is a Bonehead!

  18. Lane Bryant starts at a size 14. I am 5’10” and by no means overweight..but even I shop at Lane Bryant.

    For Fat Chicks Only…hardly.

  19. I don’t much care about shopping for flatland chicks. What is being neglected is the demand for classic reason black T-shirts. How are those coming along?


  20. Size 14 is fat.

    – Josh

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