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Chicago Athletic Association is Getting a Boutique Next Month

The owners of Space519 will launch a retail concept in July at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.

The exterior of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel   Photo: Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune

It already has a Shake Shack, a rooftop bar, and alarmingly elegant stalacites—what more could the Chicago Athletic Association need? Starting next month, shoppers will see what the new hotel has been missing with the opening of a boutique called Madison Hall (71 E. Madison St.).

From retailers Lance Lawson and Jim Wetzel, the 1930s-inspired shop will open in two street-level storefronts on July 1; it will sell globally sourced apothecary items, accessories for both sexes, rare travel books, tech accessories, flowers, and fragrances. For those accustomed to shopping in Lawson and Wetzel’s sleek Michigan Avenue boutique Space519, “I think the interiors here will be a surprise,” says Lawson. “We’re for sure going old-school.”

The store’s look fits with the Gothic architecture of the hotel itself, and is also inspired by the duo’s frequent travels. “We love the old-school European hotels and their shopping arcades, especially the ones in London,” says Lawson. “From a design and concept perspective, this was very much an inspiration for us.”

The retailers were further inspired by the history of the Chicago Athletic Association, which opened as a men’s club in 1890 and became a hotel last month. Since Madison Hall’s East space will take over the area where club members used to get haircuts, the storefront will house a barber chair tended to by a rotating crew of local stylists. Across the hall, in what was formerly the Ladies’ Lounge, the store’s West space will recall a prewar women’s boutique with fresh-cut flowers and a miniature fragrance counter.

Wetzel predicts that shoppers will represent a mix of locals and travelers. “Our goal was to build a store which locals will frequent—just like the property’s bars and restaurants—but also cater to overnight guests,” he says. “We designed the space and concept so people walking home from work in the Loop, or living in nearby high-rises, will use us a regular resource for provisions and gifts.”

Madison Hall opens July 1 at 71 East Madison Street. 

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