WBEZ | market http://www.wbez.org/tags/market Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Cubs might lose Ramirez http://www.wbez.org/story/cubs-might-lose-ramirez-93620 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-31/AP Photo Al Behrman.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Cubs may be losing third baseman Aramis Ramirez. The team offered him a $16 million dollar mutual option, but Ramirez says he wants to become a free agent.</p><p>Ramirez is 33 years old and has been with the Cubs for eight years. He just completed a five-year, $75 million dollar contract. Although he's reportedly told the Cubs he wants to be a free agent, he has until tomorrow night to finalize his decision. The Cubs have until 11:01 Wednesday night to exclusively negotiate with their own free agents.</p><p>If an agreement isn't reached by that point, Ramirez can then sign with any team, and the Cubs won't have to pay him a $2 million dollar buyout. If he leave the Cubs, Ramirez would be the top-rated third baseman up for grabs.</p><p>The decision on Ramirez was one of the first handled by new Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.<br> <br> <br> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 31 Oct 2011 12:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cubs-might-lose-ramirez-93620 Venture: Can you make a living selling handmade crafts online? http://www.wbez.org/story/venture-can-you-make-living-selling-handmade-crafts-online-91158 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-28/IMG_4616.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483670-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-august/2011-08-29/ventrure-110829-ks.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>With about one in 10 workers unemployed, people are getting creative as they try to make ends meet. Some are turning to a website called <a href="http://www.etsy.com/">Etsy</a> -- kind of an Amazon.com for artists and crafters to sell their handiwork. But a question lingers over this online craft fair: Can you turn Etsy into a viable career path?&nbsp;</p><p>Maybe you're into building children's furniture, sculpting coffee mugs, or crafting fine jewelry. As long as it's handmade, you can sell it on Etsy.</p><p>And a lot of people do: The online craft marketplace has more than 800,000 "shops" according to its website and sales have gone from $30 million in 2007 to $225 million in the first half of this year.</p><p>The site was started in 2005 by a Brooklyn carpenter and artist who tapped into a growing mood for simpler times and handmade products, and figured lots of Internet shoppers would attract craftspeople.</p><p>People like photographer Rebecca Plotnick. Plotnick is a regular at Chicago's Green City farmer's market.</p><p>On Saturday mornings she finds inspiration in piles of purple eggplants and bundles of sunflowers. Plotnick started her photography business on Etsy in 2007, a year after she lost her job at the high-end clothing retailer Chinese Laundry.</p><p>"I started out on this path, thinking I'm going to graduate from college, get a job, I've got health insurance and I'm just going to continue on that way," Plotnick said. "I never expected that I would have this change of lifestyle."</p><p>And her first year wasn't encouraging.&nbsp; Plotnick made $1,000 from her Etsy storefront. The way Etsy works is a crafter posts photos and descriptions of the product-each time you do, you pay Etsy 20 cents. Each time you make a sale, the company gets 3 and a half percent.</p><p>So at first, even with a nanny job and unemployment benefits, Plotnick had to cut costs.</p><p>"My friends made fun of me because I ate peanut butter and jelly like every day," she said. "It's not like I can go to Nordstrom and have a shopping spree."</p><p>Then last year, Plotnick took a leap: She took off for Europe to wander streets with her camera, snapping photos of antique bicycles and cobblestone alleyways. Turns out, Paris sells. This year, Plotnick counts her sales to be on track for $20,000.</p><p>"It's not any different than any other business," said Rosalind Paige, a marketing professor at the University of South Carolina Upstate.&nbsp; She's been studying craft markets for decades and said Plotnick's experience is pretty common.</p><p>"When you could be unemployed or at risk of losing your job, or losing your benefits, your retirement, you begin to think more creatively," Paige said. "The Internet isn't going to go anywhere and more and more people are looking at it for avenues of supplemental and even primary revenue right now."</p><p>Megan Lee left her nine-to-five graphic design job in 2007, and took her chances on Etsy, with Megan Lee Designs.</p><p>In her basement, Lee pulled a wood and rubber bar across a screen. She was printing a picture of three dachshunds riding bicycles onto a t-shirt.&nbsp; Lee spends seven days a week screen printing her designs on t-shirts, tote bags and even onesies for infants.</p><p>Her first year on Etsy, Lee said she made about $25,000 in sales. This year she said she's on track to bring in $100,000.</p><p>By the time she pours money back into apparel, paint and craft shows fees, though she ends up with about half of that in profits.</p><p>"So many people will say, 'Oh, you won't make a profit in the first two, three years,'" Lee said. "And I was like, 'I'm going to have to make a profit before that, because that's not going to work for me!'"</p><p>Sellers like Lee are good news for Etsy because the site makes most of its money from crafters' sales. Anupam Palit is a financial analyst at Green Crest Capital in New York who covers Etsy. He said the company has more handmade crafts listed online than eBay, Artfire, Amazon and buy.com combined.</p><p>"It's certainly a lot smaller than your Amazon and eBays of the world," said Palit. "But that's probably mostly a function of the fact that they've decided to focus on this one niche."</p><p>Still, the number of active shops has more than doubled annually,&nbsp; from 150,000 in 2009 to the 800,000 now. And Palit said such growth can have a downside for sellers.</p><p>"In order to attract buyers, you need to have a lot of stores. People want to go to a place with a lot of selections," Palit said. "Of course, that cuts two ways. The other side of things is that, you're competing with a lot of other stores."</p><p>Etsy spokesman Adam Brown said the company's goal is to increase the number of buyers per seller. Theoretically, that would mean each shop owner would make more money. The company won't say what a typical income is, but researcher Palit insists even Plotnick's $20,000 is way above an Etsy average.</p><p>"Etsy's intended to be a platform and we're certainly not saying you can come here and be a millionaire," Brown said. "Some people are running full-time businesses on Etsy and we're doing our best to support them."</p><p>In spite of all the competition, Plotnick and Lee both say even if corporate jobs were available, as long as they can make some kind of living, they'd like to avoid returning to a more traditional workplace.</p></p> Mon, 29 Aug 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/venture-can-you-make-living-selling-handmade-crafts-online-91158 Dear Mr. Mayor: a few suggestions from a humble food lover http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/2011-05-16/dear-mr-mayor-few-suggestions-humble-food-lover-86554 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-May/2011-05-15/dolinsky-sf.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-14/SF.jpg" title="The Ferry Building Market in San Francisco (photo: Steve Dolinsky)" width="400" height="299"></p><p>Dear Mr. Mayor,</p><p>I realize you're getting a lot of input from concerned citizens these days, regarding what they think your priorities should be upon taking office. I know there's a budget problem (and some issues with the schools, the CTA and the new Police Commissioner) but I also know you're as much a foodie as your predecessor was, so here are a few suggestions from one food-obsessed resident to another:</p><p>Food Trucks - I was pleased to see your quote in Time Out last week, in which you said, "I don't want to be the only city without food trucks. So I want the restaurants to work with these guys to come up with a compromise." Not only do New York City and L.A. have us beat on this issue, so does Evanston. For the past year, the <a href="http://hummingbirdkitchen.com/">Hummingbird Kitchen</a> has been cooking from its massive, state-of-the-art mobile kitchen, tweeting its location (always North of Howard St.) and hasn't encountered any resistance. Please go have a Naanwich Summit up in Edgewater with <a href="http://www.gaztro-wagon.com/Gaztro-Wagon/Home.html">gaztro-wagon's</a> Matt Maroni, 32nd Ward Alderman Waguespack and <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/keefers-restaurant-chicago">Keefer's</a> owner Glen Keefer and hammer out a compromise that will work for everyone, so your humble, hungry subjects can start quality noshing downtown on weekdays. Frankly, we Loop workers are getting a little tired of Potbelly and Hannah's Bretzel every other day.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-14/Ferry Bldg.jpg" title="The Ferry Building in San Francisco (photo: Steve Dolinsky)" width="400" height="299"></p><p>A Full-Time, Year-Round Indoor/Outdoor Market - Your predecessor and I talked about this one over some guac and chips in the bar at Frontera a couple of years ago. As you're probably aware, Chicago ranks far below Cleveland, Portland, Minneapolis, Toronto, San Francisco, Vancouver, Paris and of course, New York City, when it comes to the all-in-one, year-round market. Have you ever been to the <a href="http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/farmers_market.php">Ferry Building</a> along the Embarcadero in San Francisco? Maybe the <a href="http://www.chelseamarket.com/">Chelsea Market</a> in New York or the <a href="http://www.midtownglobalmarket.org/">Midtown Global Market</a> in Minneapolis? How is it that these cities have managed to bring together farmers, artisans, developers and politicians, and offer their residents and visitors something truly spectacular? Just think of the tax revenue, the tourist attraction and the prestige. When Daley Jr. and I talked about this, he had mentioned something in the works along upper Wacker, near the Swiss Hotel, as well as the Garfield Park area. Please scrap those ideas if they're even still being talked about.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-14/Paris.jpg" title="A Bensidoun Market in Paris (photo: Steve Dolinsky)" width="400" height="533">&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>For the love of God (and Child, Pepin, Waters and Bourdain), please convene a task force (on which I'm happy to serve) to work with the <a href="http://www.greencitymarket.org/index.asp">Green City Market</a> in Lincoln Park (which already has the street cred&nbsp;and the farmers and artisans on board, not to mention a $1 million gift bequethed by the market's founder Abby Mandel) and then find them a magnificent space in West Town, preferably along or near Randolph, which, as you know, was the birthplace of Chicago's produce market and the scene of the legendary Haymarket Riot. I hear the Peggy Notebaert would love to keep Green City around, since it boosts attendance in the winter, and might even consider expanding for it, but resist! Parking is already a nightmare over there, you've got issues with the Park and the alderman and altering the green space there and it's too far East for most of the city's residents. &nbsp;I've spent plenty of time driving around West Town, looking for a parking spot before heading to The Publican or Girl &amp; the Goat; I know there has to be an abandoned building or two over there we could convert into a market that could house individual businesses, but also serve as a central location for farmers, and still have enough room for a parking lot/ramp. The location would be key, since the CTA is building another Green Line stop along Lake Street at Morgan, and it's just a few blocks off of the Kennedy; it's also easily reachable by cab from the downtown hotels.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-14/Granville.JPG" title="Granville Public Market, Vancouver (photo: Steve Dolinsky)" width="400" height="300"></p><p>I know it's going to take a lot of money and a lot of cooperation, but I hear you're a really good listener, and if necessary, an arm-bender. Look forward to seeing you out at Avec one night, and by the way, any chance you could make the first night of Hanukkah a city holiday, so we could make latkes together on the Friday Night Special on ABC 7?</p><p>Respectfully,</p><p>Steve</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-14/Stockholm.jpg" title="Saluhall in Stockholm (photo: Steve Dolinsky)" width="400" height="533"></p></p> Mon, 16 May 2011 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/2011-05-16/dear-mr-mayor-few-suggestions-humble-food-lover-86554