Over 50 Companies Attending Southwest Side’s Small Business Saturday Event


Small businesses on the Southwest Side are lighting candles after Black Friday this weekend to help people find ways to get back to their neighborhood businesses.

Over 50 small businesses in the Clearing, West Lawn, Chicago Lawn, and Gage Park neighborhoods are participating. Greater Southwest Development Corporation The Small Business Saturday event is an annual tradition for visiting local businesses.

“You don’t have to go to Michigan Avenue to shop. You can shop here on the Southwest Side,” said Rodney Watt, the group’s director of development.

Traditions include the gifts that business owners offer their customers on that day. This year’s holiday candles are provided by the development group to participating companies.

The group founded the event ten years ago to revitalize traffic on the 63rd Street between Cicero and Bell Avenues and the 59th Street commercial corridor between Homan and Oakley Avenues.

Decades ago, businesses along these strips were thriving, Watt said. However, they have been declining in recent decades and are still suffering from the pandemic’s downturn.

Today, there are significantly fewer business licenses in force in this area than elsewhere in the city. For example, according to city data, Gage Park has 411 valid licenses, 1,099 on the Lower West Side and 4,346 on the Near North Side.

Monique Michelle Harris owns a spa and beauty salon at 2438 W. 63rd St. in Chicago Lawn. She estimates that only about 20% of the businesses that were on the block ten years before she started are still open.

Business has been particularly slow since the pandemic, and she’s coming to the event for the first time.

“Pre-COVID, I had to get on rollerblades to reach every customer that came through the door,” she said.

The West Side native hopes the event will remind people of what’s already available.

“You don’t have to leave your neighborhood to get these services,” she said.

Nerissa Liggins, who owns a clothing store at 2733 W. 63rd St., can at least sell her products online.

The Southside native opened Queen’s Closet Plus Boutique, a shop that offers women’s clothing in sizes 1X to 3X, in February 2020, and was largely empty before the pandemic hit.

Online sales help, but she would like to see more people walk through the door.

“We’re hanging in there,” she said.

Full list of participating companies can be found on the group’s website.

Michael Loria is a staff reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. Reporting to Americaa non-profit journalism program aimed at enhancing the coverage of the paper in communities in the South and West.


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Written by Natalia Chi

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