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Marketplace

First downtown DeKalb Back Alley Market set for May 4

30 regional vendors to set up one-day shop in Palmer Court on Saturday

Downtown merchants (from left) Vickie Obermiller, Leslie Conklin and Jana Nowak stand on a stairway Monday in the alley behind the businesses in the 100 block of East Lincoln Highway,  where the Back Alley Market will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Downtown merchants (from left) Vickie Obermiller, Leslie Conklin and Jana Nowak stand on a stairway Monday in the alley behind the businesses in the 100 block of East Lincoln Highway, where the Back Alley Market will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

DeKALB – Jana Nowak just wants to get as many people to realize the gem that is downtown DeKalb, and she’s got the perfect upcoming event: a day to showcase regional vendors at DeKalb’s Back Alley Market.

The market, set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, rain or shine, is the first of its kind. Hosted by a group of downtown DeKalb merchants, it will feature vintage, repurposed and homecrafted goodies for shoppers eager to try new vendors.

Nowak, 58, is the owner of Blu Door Decor, 137 E. Lincoln Highway, a refurbished furniture, clothing and home décor shop. However, she said the Back Alley Market, which will be in Palmer Court, the alley between First and Second streets, is about highlighting things people haven’t seen before.

“We’re really excited,” she said. “We’re going to do a boho-gypsy theme and decorate the alley. It’s something different. We’ve already gotten quite a huge response.”

Almost 30 vendors from the greater DeKalb area, Chicago suburbs and even Kentucky have lined up to have booths at the all-day market, which is free and open to the public. Free parking will be available in the lots adjacent to Second Street, Nowak said. Local restaurant also will offer unique Saturday lunch specials during the market, she said.

Nowak grew up in DeKalb and now is married to Dave Nowak, 55. They have a daughter, Caylyn, 27, who recently finished her nursing degree at Kishwaukee College. Jana Nowak said she’s always been a people person, and is doing her part to draw crowds to her hometown.

The downtown merchants group hosts different events each year, and this will be its new spring event. It is sponsored by Kenneth Pietsch of Sycamore-based Crum-Halsted Insurance.

Nowak is one of three downtown vendors co-chairing the Back Alley Market, including Vicki Obermiller, owner of Kids Stuff, and Leslie Conklin, owner of Found Home & Vintage Marketplace. In total, the members of the merchants group represent a combined 165 years of experience, Nowak said, which she added speaks to their support of the city.

“We came up with the Back Alley Market idea, it’s never been done before,” Nowak said. “It’ll be similar to the farmers market with vendors. There will be vendors that do woodworking, metalworking, vintage items, jewelry, soap. We have a couple of older ladies who make cozies for microwave dishes.”

Shoppers should come prepared to pay for items with cash or credit card, since Nowak said the payment option has been left up to the discretion of each vendor, like the farmers market.

“I think DeKalb needs to be up-and-coming again,” Nowak said. “I’ve watched the downtown go from ‘This is the place to be,’ when we didn’t have Sycamore Road. Now the focus has been out there and the downtown has kind of lost its spark.

“This is the first thing people see when they come to DeKalb, and if it doesn’t look nice then who would want to come down here,” she said.

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