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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Lauren Woods, DeKalb staple for 39 years

The outside of CrackerJax is decorated with Halloween decor. Lauren Woods, the owner of the store, has been in DeKalb for 39 years. (Nick Glover | Northern Star)

DeKALB – As you open the door, a gentle bell rings and a variety of scents fill the air. As your eyes adjust, you see trinkets and treasures filling the walls and halls as you struggle to take it all in, remnants of bygone eras. 

These are the thoughts and feelings one gets when a customer enters the vintage clothing store “CrackerJax.” The store is owned and operated by Lauren Woods, a DeKalb resident, and has been in business for 39 years.  

Woods said she was inspired to start a store after finding clothes in her ex-boyfriend’s closet.  

“I went to a concert, and I wore the vintage clothing, and people were really excited. I was like ‘this is cool, this is a trend,’” Woods said.  

Woods said she moved back to DeKalb from California due to her father’s illness.

When Woods first returned she worked at a local newspaper, but she loved clothing and vintage items so she decided to open up CrackerJax in 1984. 

Woods said her sister helped her come up with the name CrackerJax inspired by the classic snack food.  

“My sister came up with the idea because there’s a surprise in store,” Woods said. “It’s always different, you never know what you’re going to get. It’s so cute, and it just stuck.”

Woods mentioned that at first she put up classified ads in the newspaper she worked at; but as her business grew, she relied more on word of mouth. 

Woods said she added items such as crystals and incense, so she could stay trending and because she likes them and they add a spiritual element.  

“I’ve always loved rocks and crystals and the metaphysical nature those kinds of things represent,” Woods said.  

She said she loves giving new life to antique items and the resilience of vintage clothing that it can last throughout the ages. 

Woods said she likes adding new items to create an atmosphere. She gets the items from estate sales, donations and on consignment. 

Also important to Woods is being a member of downtown DeKalb.  

“I’m part of the Woman Merchant Group, and I love it. I’ve been a proud chamber member for 30 years,” Woods said. 

Woods went on to say how important it is to buy locally and that she does it every chance she gets. 

Woods also said she will have window displays for Day of the Dead and that dancers will come out from the Dimensions Dance Academy down the block from her store.  

CrackerJax is located at 118 N. Third St. The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 pm.

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