Leah Marlene rocks local economy

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 10:12 PM CDT
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TWIN CITIES (Heart of Illinois ABC) - It was one of the largest events in Uptown Normal with more than 10,000 people in attendance, according to Normal Police. That’s what a homecoming parade and concert looked like for an American Idol finalist. Leah Marlene took over the town, which supported and surprised the local economy with a two-day notice.

The streets of Uptown Normal looked casual on Wednesday, but Tuesday afternoon was quite the opposite.

“We’ve never seen anything like that before,” said Charbel Saliba, co-owner of The Rock Restaurant.

More than 10,000 people came out to support Leah Marlene as she heads into the finals for American Idol on Sunday.

The Rock Restaurant doubled their business, even feeding the ‘Idol’ crew.

“During the day we were over 400 orders easily,” said Saliba.

Campustown sold every yellow t-shirt they had.

“Right after the students, the Illinois State University students have graduated this is one of our slowest times of the year by far,” said Daniel Maloney, owner of Campustown.

Garlic Press down the block had been popping ‘Leah’s Music Mix’ all day, waiting for more product to come in.

“We’re just making it as quickly as we can,” said Sarah McManus, co-owner of Garlic Press.

She said the support for local businesses and Marlene made her proud of Normal.

“It’s been tremendous,” said McManus.

Not only was Uptown Normal packed with business, Bloomington also felt the affect.

“Just being able to support the community and someone in our community is a plus,” said Amy Stetzler, head of marketing and sales at Select Screen Prints Inc.

Stetzler said their company printed almost 2,000 shirts.

“Luckily we’re able to get everything in for them in time, no stock supply issues and all that,” said Stetzler.

Up the road, 200 yard signs were also made in support. Bother makers said they were sending some of the proceeds to the Marlene family.

“If anything it’s been a boost for us in exposure to the community because we’re used to doing business to business,” said Aaron Hambleton, owner and operator of The Great Display Company.

Above all, each shopkeeper is ready to rock in support of Marlene, come Sunday.

“Hopefully she’ll make it all the way through and become a star and we’ll be proud of her and proud to say we’re from the same town,” said Saliba.

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