Pop-up for entrepreneurs ‘with the potential to go brick and mortar’ opens on Southwest Side

Several up-and-coming businesses will take over a pair of vacant storefronts on a Southwest Side commercial strip for the next several months as the owners look for opportunities to grow.

SHARE Pop-up for entrepreneurs ‘with the potential to go brick and mortar’ opens on Southwest Side
Monique Michelle Harris, owner of The Beauty Experience in Chicago Lawn, is one of several small business owners taking part in a weekend pop-up from the Greater Southwest Development Corporation for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

Monique Michelle Harris, owner of The Beauty Experience in Chicago Lawn, is one of several small business owners taking part in a weekend pop-up from the Greater Southwest Development Corporation for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Several up-and-coming businesses will take over a pair of vacant storefronts on a Southwest Side commercial strip for the next several months as the owners look for opportunities to grow.

Eight minority-owned small businesses are involved so far in the venture, organized by the Greater Southwest Development Corporation.

“Our aim is to support the vendors in an incubation process to take them from idea or concept to a business with the potential to go brick and mortar,” said Adrian Soto, executive director of the Southwest Side economic development group.

Allowing them to use the storefronts gives them a chance to gain more experience and expand their clientele.

The venture was funded by a grant from the city’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which awarded funds to 17 neighborhood development organizations through its Small Business Storefront Activation Program, an initiative meant to grow commercial corridors hit hard by the pandemic through the Chicago Recovery Plan.

It is open on weekends, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 2555 and 2557 W. 63rd St. in Chicago Lawn until June.

Businesses thus far include Monique Michelle The Beauty Experience – a South Side beauty parlor looking to open another location – as well as cottage businesses Flow’s Place boutique popcorn, Shamyz Teez custom T-shirts and She Sale Sea Shells crystals and aromatherapy.

The development group hopes the pop-up can become a permanent incubator for local businesses, and that anyone interested in starting a business will be inspired by seeing the long-vacant storefronts filled.

“It takes seeing the storefront activated to imagine opening a shoe store or restaurant there,” Soto told the Sun-Times in October when the city agency first announced the grants.

Michael Loria is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South Side and West Side.

The Latest
Thinking ahead to your next few meals? Here are some main dishes and sides to try.
Expanded weekend services, including road tests and written tests, will be offered June 1 through Aug. 31, historically the busiest season for teens looking to get behind the wheel.
The right-hander allowed four home runs against the Yankees on Saturday.