Doors opened for the last time to Fashionette shoppers on Thursday, December 15
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (December 15, 2022) – Pat Kremer remembers buying much-loved Christmas gifts for her mother and mother-in-law at Fashionette. Grace Bazylewski remembers how owner Jackie Protsman befriended her when she took on the role of Lansing’s Economic Development Director in 1989. And other shoppers at the Fashionette estate sale shared memories of being treated elegantly even when they weren’t able to afford the high-quality merchandise in the iconic women’s clothing store.
“I just loved her,” said a tiny woman sorting through the fashion scarves near the counter.
Closing and selling
The estate sale was one of the final steps in a slow march toward closure that began in July when 94-year-old Jackie suffered a fall. A series of health events followed — another fall, a broken clavicle, COVID, an infection — and Jackie was never able to return to work. Eventually her son Bob decided it was time to permanently close the store.
Bob said he sold the building to Dave Davila, owner of QuikScripts Pharmacy. Jackie had also owned the QuikScripts building, and Bob confirmed that Davila bought both buildings in a package deal. At this time, Davila has no specific plans for the Fashionette building and is simply looking for a good tenant that will respect the community in the same way Jackie Protsman did.
Bob and his wife hired The Key to Estate Treasures to organize an estate sale for the purpose of clearing out the inventory, clothing racks, and showcases in anticipation of new ownership.
Mementos and merchandise
The sale was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Thursday morning, and a small crowd of shoppers began gathering by 8:30. Some, like Kremer and Bazylewski, were looking for individual purchases for themselves or to give as gifts — mementos of Jackie Protsman and her legacy. Other shoppers were professional vendors interested in high-quality merchandise and well-preserved store fixtures.
Buyer Cliff Reeves came prepared. He had signed up ahead of time, and he pulled up in front of the shop before 9 a.m. with a trailer in tow. Upon entering Fashionette, it didn’t take Reeves long to decide to buy “all the clothes.” He plans to resell them at his shop in Valparaiso, Indiana.
The Key to Estate Treasures is a northwest Indiana-based family-owned company that is well respected by vendors who follow estate sales. “They are very professional,” said Reeves. “And very honest.”
“I try to be nice to people,” agreed Jerry from The Key. “Everybody needs a hand. [With a well-run estate sale,] everybody makes money — the owner makes money, we make money, and the buyers make money.”
For the Protsman family, that means Jackie can continue to get the care she now needs. “Every penny [from the estate sale] is going to my mom’s healthcare,” said Bob.
The estate sale also provided an opportunity for members of the community to browse through the racks once more, looking for one last “classy classic” at an affordable price. Fashionette hasn’t changed much since 1974, so the mannequins, decor, and pink walls brought back fond memories of a woman who meant a lot to Lansing.
Jackie Protsman learned business from her mother, Florence Aumick, who somewhat spontaneously opened a small shop in the early 1950s in a part of the dime store known as Ben Franklin at the time. (It was later Active Edge and is now Shegog Enterprises.) In 1974, Protsman’s family constructed a new building at 3334 Ridge Road that became Fashionette. Jackie lived upstairs and worked in the store five days a week into her 90s.
She also served as President of the Lansing Chamber from 1976–1978 — the first female to do so — and she won the Athena Award in 1987. Son Bob remembers his parents being involved with the Lions Club, the Masons, and the Santa House. “They were involved in everything,” he said.
He continued, “My mom loved the community. She absolutely loved the community. And this store was almost like another child to her.”
“A lot of people are sad for it go away,” added Larry, the estate sale manager.
But as Jackie said in a 2018 interview, “Things change and you’ve got to change with the times.”
The Fashionette building is located at 3334 Ridge Road in downtown Lansing. People who would like to send cards or letters to Jackie Protsman can mail them to:
- Jackie Protsman
P.O. BOx 442
Lansing, Il 60438
Bob will gather them and deliver them personally to his mom.
- Always in fashion (2018 article)
- Lansing’s Fashionette to sell pajamas at ‘Pajama Jam’ (2019 article)