Category Archives: Business

New in Chicago: May 2015

My New in Chicago columns from May 2015 for Crain’s Chicago Business:

May 7 — Mexican wedding cookies, instant massage bookings and more. Featured businesses include Felix’s Famous Cookies, Excel Mobile Massage, Functional MobileWear, City Soles and Goose Island Beer Co.’s tasting room.

May 14 — The doctor will see you now — at home. Featured businesses include Orunje, Right Bee Cider, Pagoda Red and the William Collins Collection.

May 21 — A stylish take on “I give up” pants. Featured businesses include Public Rec’s All Day Every Day Pant, the BYO Wine Rack and Les Nereides.

May 28 — 2015: The year of the premixed cocktail business? Featured businesses include Sharaabi Spirits, Vitani, Wixter Market, Literacenter and Open Books.

Industrial revolution: See how small-biz owners are giving factories new life

Crain’s Chicago Business, July 12, 2014 — They’re tucked away in desolate corners all over the city: looming brick and concrete buildings that once held factories that supported entire neighborhoods. These behemoths helped earn Chicago its brawny reputation and, once they were vacated, became hulking icons of its blight. But now a crop of savvy small-business owners and creative rehabbers are dusting some of these buildings off and finding new uses for them.

“Repurposing old structures is fun,” says Craig Golden, principal of Chicago-based Blue Star Properties, which buys and rehabs industrial buildings. “Reusing old infrastructure-so that we’re not running highways out in the middle of nowhere and electrical lines-makes me feel better.”

“You can do good business in buildings like this,” says Steve DeBretto, executive director of the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago, which operates a business incubator inside a former West Side plumbing factory that was built in 1887. Not only are the rates cheap for tons of square footage, but there’s a certain je ne sais quoi that appeals to some business owners. “It’s got a charm that a new building doesn’t necessarily have.”

Turn the page to take a walking tour of four industrial sites that are getting a new lease on life, then read how-and why-startups from furniture makers to distillers to small manufacturers have settled there.

20140714-linkstrip3Read my stories in Crain’s Chicago Business:

— Manifold furniture designers on the challenges of retrofitting a concrete box
— A safe space for businesses that make noise at 3 a.m.
— How a machine-friendly group engages hardware entrepreneurs in co-working
— Nick Greens’ farm springs up in Back of the Yards

Photos by Stephen J. Serio

How Bloodshot Records has lasted so long

Crain’s Chicago Business, April 12, 2014 — Here’s how the music business works in 2014: On April 3, BuzzFeed proclaimed, “This Country Cover of Kesha is Totally Beautiful,” drawing listeners to a free audio stream of Bloodshot Records artist Lydia Loveless’ twangy version of pop star Kesha’s “Blind.” Over the next four days, the post received more than 77,000 views and probably stoked sales for the single, to be released on April 19. The shoutout didn’t happen by chance… Read my story in Crain’s Chicago Business.

Illustration by Kevin Marks

Can the Empty Bottle/Longman & Eagle team tap into another success?

Crain’s Chicago Business, October 5, 2013 — Nearly a year ago, Craig Golden stood in the balcony of the musty, long-vacant Thalia Hall, an ornate Pilsen theater that was in foreclosure, and knew he had to call Bruce Finkelman right away. “I don’t know where you are, Bruce, but you should get in your car and come over here right now,” … Read my story in Crain’s Chicago Business.

Photo by Kendall Karmanian