By August 2020, more than 97,000 businesses across the U.S had permanently closed, largely due to the economic repercussions of COVID-19. Whether it’s the cafe where you spent every Sunday drinking oat milk with two drops of espresso or the clothing store you’ve walked past countless times, businesses in our college town were not immune to this period of unprecedented financial hardships. Since the beginning of this year, 70 businesses in Evanston have shut their doors, 40 of which are permanently closed. Amongst the storefronts of the downtown area, numerous “for sale”, “for lease” and “we’ve closed” signs have now been posted on the darkened store windows covered with ripped paper.

Two students hang out on the roof of the old Clarke's location. (Lami Zhang/North by Northwestern)
A pedestrian walks by the old Barnes and Noble, which closed in May. (Victoria Benefield/North by Northwestern)
A Northwestern Medicine facility will replace the Barnes and Nobles bookstore at the corner of Sherman Ave and Church St. (Lami Zhang/North by Northwestern)
After 29 years in Evanston, Unicorn Cafe closed its doors on Sept. 14. (Victoria Benefield/North by Northwestern)
The only Panera Bread in Evanston is now permanently closed. (Victoria Benefield/North by Northwestern)
A climate activist message was scribbled on the walls outside Panera. (Victoria Benefield/North by Northwestern)
A student go-to for comfort food, Panera bread has been in Evanston for 19 years. (Lami Zhang/North by Northwestern)
A red "For Sale or Lease" stands out on an otherwise muted brick building. (Lami Zhang/North by Northwestern)
Sherman Avenue is dotted with paper-covered doorways and windows. (Victoria Benefield/North by Northwestern)
Another “For Lease Sign” is displayed clearly on a storefront. (Lami Zhang/North by Northwestern)
An uncovered window shows the emptied interior of a former business. (Lami Zhang/North by Northwestern)
The Freshii store on Sherman Ave. is temporarily closed with no clear date of reopening. (Lami Zhang/North by Northwestern)
Lumen Optical closed its doors next to Big City Optical. (Lami Zhang/North by Northwestern)
Rips in the cardboard paper allow for a brief peak into the dark interior of a store. (Victoria Benefield/North by Northwestern)