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Black Friday for Fox's Flowers and Gifts Savat is handed an eviction letter on the biggest shopping day of the year

Posted on 11/27/2018, 2:37 PM

MARION -- The date Nov. 23 was indeed a "Black Friday" last week for Teresa Savat, owner of Fox's Flowers and Gifts, one of the few remaining businesses in Marion's Illinois Star Centre Mall.

Savat was one of at least two businesses that did not receive an eviction notice early last week, but that changed on Friday, when she got a hand-delivered letter dated Nov. 20.

"I figured I would get retaliation from them (mall owners) for standing up for the businesses in the mall," she said.

A mall security guard visited the few remaining stores in the once-thriving building last week, allegedly ordering them to refrain from speaking about the eviction letters, and especially from making statements to the media.

Savat said some area media were ordered to leave the mall.

Savat told this newspaper last Monday that the mall manager had come into her business on the previous Friday and said he had letters and a paper to be signed.

"Then he looked and said, 'Oh, you guys don't have a letter' and just walked out."

This newspaper reached out to the mall management multiple times, including Monday afternoon, leaving a message on the answering machine.

Those calls were not returned by press time.

In subsequent discussions with other business owners, Savat assumed that she had not received a letter because her business had a possible entrance from the outside.

However, that entrance would entail customers walking behind a wall and through a storage area and a work area, something she considered a safety hazard.

Savat's letter was dated Nov., 20, just one day after mall owners filed a "debtor's motion to reject unexpired leases" in federal court.

For Savat, the letter was bittersweet.

"I have decided that I cannot physically, mentally, and financially move my shop," she said.

Although she said her employees have become her "family" here, she just can't physically handle the move and trying to fix up another place.

"It would be like starting over," she said.

Fox's Flowers and Gifts has been a Marion icon for 87 years. It's been located in the mall for about the past 10 years. Savat has owned it for the past five years.

"I've met some great, great people here," she said. "I was able to put my heart into the business. I felt like I was able to comfort people, making sure everything was perfect at the funeral home, being able to put smiles on people's faces, helping people share love with flowers."

However, Savat said she realizes life is full of change.

"Life is full of beginnings and endings," she said. "I know this is an ending, but it's also going to be a good start for a beginning."

Savat plans to move near family in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, but she's hoping to sell the business so that her Illinois work family benefits.

"I have a guy interested and he said he wanted to keep the employees," she said.

Savat was scheduled to meet with that prospective buyer on Monday.

"If it gets sold, it will make me feel so much better," she said. "I hope they have that passion to keep it here in Marion and going for another 87 years."