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Perhaps a bit unorthodox on our end, we’ve done a little news reporting. Enjoy.

Co-founders of Jake, Lance Lawson and Jim Wetzel, at one point made millions off their boutique

When business was booming, Jake, a Chicago-based retail chain consisting of three boutiques and a website, garnered a robust reputation for scouting out emerging labels like Burkman Bros. and Engineered Garments and propelling them into the mainstream. But barraged with dwindling sales figures for the past several seasons, Jake has had to cease risk-taking on the young guys, and start to sell the better-known labels at cheaper prices.

“We’re certainly not trying to go as mainstream as some stores, but we really have to look at what our customers are buying and what they’re telling us,” Lance Lawson, the co-director of Jake, said.

Lawson says that his job is now more a post concerned with selling what customers like than the once esteemed position of selling what Lawson thought customers ought to buy.

Part of the reason boutiques like Jake are less willing to take risks with labels stems from the way the payment process has changed since the recession.

In past years, stores had contracts with the labels to pay them back in time-spans like 30 days, but with the onslaught of economic strife, “every designer,” as Lawson puts it, “is so burned by people not paying them or bounced checks that they are pretty much operating on prepayment.”

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