Linda Ekendahl

Linda Ekendahl

“It’s pretty crazy. I went to my parents at 27 years old and said, ‘Hey Mom, I need our home equity for this loan to take out $120,000 for a business you’ve never heard of – selling fruit that looks like flower arrangements.’ I never thought about what could go wrong. That never crossed my mind. And 18 years later my Edible Arrangements stores are still in business, but Illinois property taxes are making it difficult to stay here.”

“And now they want another property tax hike with this constitutional amendment? It’s just too much.”

“I moved here from Connecticut because my former business partner was from Indiana and we both liked the idea of living in Chicago. We started out renting, and as our business grew I felt confident about buying a location. I found one in Oak Park for $320,000 and thought, ‘I can totally do this.’”

“The previous owners received a property tax bill for about $9,000 – the vacant rate – so I knew I was going to end up having to pay around $18,000 or $19,000, the occupied rate. Then that first year our property taxes were $29,000. It went up by $10,000. I’ll never forget how my bank just called me up and said: ‘We have a deficit for the escrow and it’s due tomorrow. I’m going to need $10,000.’ Who makes a phone call like that? I was so pissed.”

“$10,000 in unexpected costs really affects your bottom line.”

“When I first got that bill for $10,000, I went to the township office. The staff was really kind and helped with the appeal, but I was denied twice filing on my own. Finally, after hiring a tax lawyer, I was able to get some relief.”

“When I started speaking to other people who owned commercial properties in Oak Park, I found out very quickly that these people don’t suffer as much as I do because they have mixed units. And there wasn’t even a comparable in Oak Park to show another commercial retail-storefront property like mine. Other properties tend to be mixed-use, so their property taxes don’t rise as fast as mine.”

“I hope the property taxes don’t push me out into that level where I’m going to have to move because moving a business is also expensive. I’m hopeful it will work out, but I might have to be creative.”

“I was hoping that having a mortgage payment would be my security and that paying it off would help me in a sense of having something for my future. I want to leave a legacy for my son. I’ve been doing Edible Arrangements for over 18 years, but the thought of paying around $3,000 a month in taxes, every single month, is a lot of money that I could have used to pay for a property or several properties. I thought buying was a pretty smart move, but I didn’t realize how costly the property taxes would be.”

“It’s a constant conversation. Even in our Facebook groups, people are always talking about their property taxes rising a ridiculous amount. It’s never like $1,000 or $500. It’s always like something obscene and astronomical.”

“And now that we’re voting on another hike with Amendment 1, our struggle to keep the status quo will continue. I’m thankful I have the money to even pay thousands of dollars for a tax lawyer, but if I didn’t, I just don’t know what I’d do.”

“I’m not confident I could sell. I mean, who would ever purchase a 1,700-square-foot retail shop with a $30,000 annual tax bill? And under Amendment 1 they would rise even faster? I can’t even imagine that.”

“If I could do it all over again, I think I would have just stayed in my first location and paid rent. Not just for the money and cost, but the time, energy and frustration of navigating the property tax system just wasn’t worth it.”

Linda Ekendahl
Owner, Edible Arrangements
Oak Park, Illinois

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