Lessons Small Businesses Have Learned A Year Into The Pandemic

We asked small businesses in Chicago how they’ve been doing — and what they’ve been doing — over the past year. Here’s what they had to say.

Open for Business
Tim Mossholder
Open for Business
Tim Mossholder

Lessons Small Businesses Have Learned A Year Into The Pandemic

We asked small businesses in Chicago how they’ve been doing — and what they’ve been doing — over the past year. Here’s what they had to say.

This week on the Curious City podcast, we dig back into the archives to share one of our favorite stories about the song made famous by Frank Sinatra, “Chicago (That Toddling Town).”

The song pays homage to the partying and excess of the roaring ’20s during Prohibition. It also contains the curious line “The town Billy Sunday couldn’t shut down.” These lyrics piqued the interest of questioner Aaron Vigil, who grew up fundamentalist Christian. He’d heard a bit about Sunday at revival meetings but he wanted to know more about who this preacher was and why he was mentioned in the song. Reporter Quinn Myers unpacks that mystery.

Plus, a few weeks ago we answered a question from Michael Kuharich, who wanted to know what he could do to support small businesses during the pandemic. After this episode aired, we heard from 45 small businesses who wrote in to us to tell us how they’ve been doing — and what they’ve been doing — over the past year to keep their businesses open.

606 Movers
606 Movers owner Ana Hernandez says she’s sometimes had to insist her customers wear masks around her staff. She wants the public to recognize the value of employees like hers. Photos courtesy Ana Hernandez

In this episode we share some of their stories, including how the Laugh Factory Chicago shifted gears to take its comedy online and turn its warehouse into a clothing donation space. Ana Hernandez, owner of 606 Movers, tells us about the lessons she hopes people have learned about essential workers, and Rebecca Hamlin Green of Loom explains how a social enterprise store has used technology to turn window shopping into an actual shopping experience.

Quinn Myers is a producer and reporter for WTTW. Follow him @rquinnmyers

Natalie Dalea is Curious City’s multimedia intern. Follow her @nmdalea

Maggie Sivit is a digital and engagement producer for Curious City. Follow her @magisiv