The same month Payless Shoe Source leaves Chicago Heights, another business has opened its doors.
The national used car sales and finance chain CarHop sold its first vehicle in Chicago Heights Jan. 9 at the newly opened Halsted Street location, which used to be a Popeye's Chicken restaurant.
Store Manager Jim Arvia recently transferred from the company's Burbank location and said he hopes to do more than sell a few cars in the Heights.
"We’re not a traditional used car dealership," Arvia said. "You get folks saying, ‘I just want to go buy a cash car.' There’s a market for that, but if you want to get a good reliable car and get yourself in a better position in life, those are the customers that come here."
CarHop touts itself as being a good place for people to build or rebuild their credit. Many of the customers are hoping to raise there credit score, according to Arvia.
An example the store manager gave was if someone has a relatively low credit score of 400, he or she could get a car and take out a short term loan of about two-and-a-half years. Every car sold has an 18-month warranty, covering the engine, transmission and drivetrain.
"After a couple years' time our customers have options of newer, nicer cars from us or a new-car dealership," Arvia said. "They'll be buying their first homes and all those things that might be out of reach right now."
A key reason CarHop opened a branch in Chicago Heights, Arvia said, is because a large percentage of customers at the Burbank location were coming from this area.
"Being the manager at Burbank, if you were to draw a circle on the South Side, Chicago Heights was dead center in that circle where these customers were coming from," Arvia said. "Being local right here, makes it a lot easier for the customers."
Beyond doing his job of promoting CarHop, Arvia said he believes the new business can only be good for Chicago Heights.
"This building has been vacant for a couple of years, from what I’ve been told," Arvia said. "One more shuttered building becomes a viable business, and hopefully it’ll lead to more of that."
The big promotion at CarHop right now is called "We Wait, You Drive," in which customers still waiting for their tax refund check or even their W-2s can get a car now and make the down payment when the check comes.
"But they’ll want (your taxes) done fairly quickly," Arvia cautioned. "You can’t wait until April 15, but it gives the customer a chance do something right away without having to wait."