Two of Homewood’s longest-operating businesses ended operations this summer and were recognized by the village board Tuesday.
Van Drunen Ford was in business for 91 years, first at locations on Dixie Highway and most recently on 183rd Street. It was purchased recently by Chevrolet of Homewood.
Suzie’s Hallmark closed after 49 years on June 30. Fred and Suzie Sierzega opened the store on Ridge Road in 1972 and built a 5,000-square-foot building on Harwood Avenue in 2002.
“For the last 49 years, we’ve had a pretty good business,” Fred Sierzega said. “The time had come. It was time to pull up stakes and sit back and relax and enjoy life while we still can.”
Suzie’s sold Hallmark cards, gift wrap, albums, stationery, candy, items from over 50 vendors, and was the only dealer in the area selling the complete line of Department 56 Villages and Snowbabies and accessories.
Mayor Richard Hofeld said Suzie’s was one of the first businesses to invest in the downtown area of the village.
“The village has been great to us. Customers have been great to us. We had a lot of sad customers come in our last month,” Fred Sierzega said. “I can’t say enough about the village of Homewood.”
The Van Drunen dealership got its start during tough times.
Morse J. Van Drunen founded the Ford dealership in 1930 at the start of the Great Depression. Van Drunen Ford sold only 12 cars in 1932.
During World War II, rationing meant there were no new vehicles built outside the military. The business displayed rebuilt engines in the showroom during that time and returned to selling cars after the war.
Marvin Van Drunen and his sisters Faye Van Drunen, Ruth Kuipers and Joan De Bok were the third generation of the family to own and operate the dealership.
“Since 1974, our business was 75 percent female-owned and we’re pretty proud of that. I couldn’t get anything past my sisters for all these years,” Marvin Van Drunen said.
Van Drunen Ford was a supportive member of the community and sponsored several local programs, including youth sports and Homewood Flossmoor High School’s Viking Media.
“All these decades, we’ve had tremendous support from the village. Hopefully, we were a good member of the community, as well,” Marvin Van Drunen said. “I’m really honored by this proclamation.”