The Greater Chatham Initiative sponsored its first Shop Local “Small Business Saturday,” on Thanksgiving weekend. Thirty-nine Chatham businesses participated. The day long special event, championed by American Express, called attention to the hundreds of small and medium sized businesses that drive commerce in the community, and that represent the key to Chatham’s long history of entrepreneurship, particularly by African-Americans.
The event was a Greater Chatham Initiative collaboration with the Business and Economic Revitalization Association, 79th Street Business Association, and Chatham Business Association. GCI’s goal was to have area residents conduct their holiday shopping at local (non big-box) stores, and to create more foot traffic along the 75th Street, 79th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue corridors.
Nedra Fears, Executive Director of the Greater Chatham Initiative says, “We had wonderful shopkeepers for residents to patronize. Shoppers were able to pick up toys from Games Plus, select fresh wreaths from William Hydro Plants, enjoy vinyl records from Fletchers, and artwork from The Woodshop, or test scented lotions from Life Organic. There was something for everyone. Our hand-picked 39 vendors are the area’s best.”
“Chatham Village Square located at 87th and Cottage Grove is the sixth most popular location for the city’s middle class African American shoppers,” Fears said. “We want those shoppers to shop there AND at the smaller stores. If those consumers didn’t know which stores to support now they know from this preselected and vetted group.”
The mission of the Greater Chatham Initiative is to create wealth and jobs for local residents and businesses in Chatham, Auburn Gresham, Avalon Park and Greater Grand Crossing. “Neighbors want thriving retail strips. We know if we get the word out they will continue to support the 39 businesses because of their quality goods and services.” Fears added that for metropolitan Chicago to prosper it needs Greater Chatham – and all of the region’s other communities and neighborhoods – to be healthy, vital and engaged in vigorous regional economic activity. At the same time, “for Greater Chatham to thrive” she said, “it must be closely, deliberately and sustainably participating in regional economic growth opportunities.”
The Greater Chatham Initiative group has authored a 90-page plan spelling out ways to revitalize the Greater Chatham south side communities. Its first Shop Local “Small Business Saturday” was another step forward to encourage and strengthen the relationships between businesses and local community customers.
For more information about the Greater Chatham Initiative visit www.greaterchathaminitiative.org.