Member Spotlight: Old Zines

Jack Wangelin - Thursday, July 25, 2013

An Interview with Member Bob Katzman of

Where did you get the inspiration to open your business? 
I was 14 and left home in the middle of the night and needed to find a way to support myself. I opened one business after another and all the while was collecting paper, periodicals and posters that dated back to 1576.  

Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit? 
Beginning at 5, I collected empty Coke bottles from prairies near high schools where the kids would throw them. I’d put them in a little red wagon and then turn them in for 2-3cents each and buy candy and water balloons. 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?
A good relationship is more important than any single sale.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago? 
Have a year’s worth of money saved to pay your basic cost of living. Don’t hire anyone until you’re overwhelmed with business. Make sure you’re filling a need. When you’re successful don’t change your old clothes; don’t advertise your success! And last, find a way to give yourself time off. 

What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering? 
I sell magazines for birthdays and anniversaries, but really I sell emotion. I sell the way a person will feel when they open up whatever gift it is a person has selected for them. There are only four places like mine left in America. That means a person who buys a gift from me has to go out of their way to find me in Skokie – and that’s the gift, that they’re bothering at all. 

I also sell books here that I wrote myself – non-fiction about Chicago. 

And I currently have 50,000 posters from all over the world being liquidated for $10 each.

What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown? 
I may not be in Wicker Park or Bucktown but I joined the Chamber because I love the people in the neighborhood and they are the right demographic for what I do – smart, curious and artistic. Now if only I could teach them how to use the train to get here! 

What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without? 
Where my daughter Rachel lives and I won’t tell you where that is, but it’s with my grandson Jericho and her husband Jerry. She is an artist, singer/songwriter, and makes jewelry. Is she not the perfect Wicker Park person? 

What kind of people are your customers? 
Worldly - they appreciate history. They understand the value and fragility of what I sell. They’re also imaginative because they could just go to Target to buy the latest CD. 

What can people expect when they walk in your front door?
A genuine eccentric. 

Do you have a great story about your business that you’d like to share? 
Last week a woman came here to sell me a box of sports magazines. We had never met before. I couldn’t use them and she was disappointed but then she noticed a 1931 Geographic on “Modern Ethiopia,” and explained to me “I just came back from Ethiopia.” We started talking. I know all about Ethiopia – used to have a foreign language bookstore in Lakeview where I sold Amharic language tapes. (That is a Semitic language by the way.) We got to talking and she was interested in Coptic art which is early Christian Art in Ethiopia. I found an example of it in a 1920 Geographic about Abyssinia (the old name for Ethiopia). She bought that and an Ethiopian flag too.  She was thrilled! She never expected to come in here, try to sell me sports magazines, and instead, leave with a magazine about Coptic art in Abyssinia! That’s a good story, isn’t it? 

For directions to Bob’s store in Skokie from the Damen Blue Line el stop, please click here
Bob Katzman
Old Zines
4906 W. Oakton, Skokie, Ill 60077
(847) 677-9444 M-F: 10-5/weekends: 10-2

KickStart the WPB People Spot

Jack Wangelin - Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Wicker Park Bucktown SSA#33 is helping to sponsor, in conjunction with Dimo's Pizza, a People Spot at the WPB Hub: Milwaukee/Damen/North avenues' intersection. They need your help in creating this green oasis in the asphalt desert.


The project has so far won the approval of the Mayor, & World Business Chicago, through Seed Chicago, and has just launched their KickStarter Project.

If you have not heard of a People Spot, they are: 

"temporary platforms adjacent to sidewalks, typically within existing parking lanes. As a placemaking tool, they also contribute to an increase of pedestrian volumes and help promote economic development in retail corridors."

For those of us that don't speak in City-code , People Spots bring a bit of greenery to an otherwise concrete jungle. They want for people to relax and gather; fostering a sense of community, relaxation, and relief from the hustle and bustle of everyday city life. People Spots may take up some parking, but in turn bring a greater amout of foot traffic to the area, which is often a great boon for business.,

People Spot Blue Prints

The design of the proposed People Spot

If you would like to support the People Spot in WPB, head over to the KickStarter Page, and Donate to make it happen. This is your chance to have a direct impact on the space in which you live, work, and share with others, so share this project to get the ball rolling.

Watch the video to learn more about the creation of this fantastic project!

Small Business Finance: Accounts Receivable Factoring

Jack Wangelin - Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Have you as a small business owner applied for a loan and the bank tells you you’re not bankable?

Are you currently looking for Angel Investors or Private Equity money?  Why give up you’re a portion of your business while losing autonomy at the same time?  Let me give you something to consider before you give away your business, Accounts Receivable Factoring.  What is Factoring?  It is a way for businesses to obtain quick working capital by selling their accounts receivable invoice at a slight discount (usually anywhere from 1 to 3% from face amount) so that the business owner can make payroll, purchase advertising, hire more employees etc.  A lot of times business owners, especially startups, don’t have enough capital to wait 30, 60 or even 90 to 120 days to get paid on their receivable, this is where factoring can make sense.  

Here is the way a typical Factoring case works:

ABC Company needs to make payroll twice a month; however, their clients takes 30 to 60 days to pay on the receivable.  By selling each invoice within 24 hours of its creation, ABC Co. has achieved the following:

  • Payroll is always met on time

  • Sales volume increase

  • Staff has been added to generate more revenue

Here is another example:

XYZ Company has Purchase Orders in the amount of $150,000 and a supplier that requires cash on delivery.  In addition, there is an IRS tax lien of $60,000.  XYZ currently has $95,000 in outstanding receivables and their client takes 45 to 60 days to pay.  After a payment plan has been approved by the IRS, XYZ can sell its invoices for cash within 24 hours of their creation and achieve the following:

  • A 2% discount has been received for supplies purchased with cash.

  • Purchase order backlog is being satisfied

  • Sales volumes increase

Other benefits of Factoring:

  • Business owner does not incur any debt as they  are “selling” the receivable

  • Business owner does not have to give up any equity and lose autonomy and have to share in the profits they generate

  • Take advantage of early payment discounts from suppliers

  • Improve the credit of the small business owner by building credit

  • No longer need to offer early payment discounts

  • Professional credit monitoring of your clients

  • Business owner can concentrate on building their business and not have to worry about collections

*As banking standards get more and more rigid, Factoring is an excellent alternative for business owners to obtain the working capital they need, and the flexibility they crave without having to give up equity or ownership in their business.  Factoring is also perfect for the business owners whose business is very seasonal or has “peaks and valleys”, where their need for capital fluctuates.  Lastly, it is a great way for the business owner to monitor the credits of their clients; a factoring company can be your in house credit department by monitoring the credit worthiness of your clients.  Something business owners rarely consider. 

The Small Business Finance blog is graciously written by Francis Kestler of BlueJacket Financial.

Member Spotlight: Francis Kestler, BlueJacket Financial

Jack Wangelin - Monday, June 03, 2013

Francis Kestler is the President and CEO of BlueJacket Financial 

BlueJacket Financial provides financing and capital to small, medium and large business. 

Francis will also be writing a monthly, small business finance blog for the WPB Chamber. His first post, " Accounts Receivable Factoring: The working capital a business needs," will be posted next Monday, the 10th of June. Be sure to keep following for more invaulable tips, resources, and insight into the murky waters of small business finance.

Where did you get the inspiration to open your business? 

Seeing how hard it was for business owners to get the funding they need from traditional banking sources.  There are many businesses that lack the necessary capital to sustain or grow their business.  BlueJacket Financial was created to give business owners funding options for their business whether they’re a startup, an existing business looking to expand, or a turnaround story.  

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?

Never waste time.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago?

Consider all your funding options, I see a lot of business owners willing to give away pieces of their business in the form of equity ownership without going through all their financing options.

What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering?

The ability to loom at a business and assess their financing needs and either provide them with the financing they need or offer advice as to how they can obtain it.  Business owners have more options for financing then they really know exist.  BlueJacket Financial is here to let them know their options.

What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown?

Sadly, I don’t work in Wicker Park/Bucktown yet, but I live there and I love the neighborhood.  Especially, the diversity of the restaurants and bars, and the people.

What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without?

Too many to name, start with the bars and restaurants on Division Avenue and work your way west of Damen.

What kind of people are your customers?

Business owners, from smaller restaurants to larger corporations, they really run the gamut.

What can people expect when they walk in your front door?

Most of my contact is by phone or email, but I try and make the financing process as easy as possible for them, I explain all their options and make sure there are no surprises.

Do you have a great story about your business that you’d like to share?

I have many, but the one I like the most was helping a hard working immigrant family from Mexico realize their dream of opening a restaurant and bar.  I have a few stories of helping business owners stave off bankruptcy or help them add on to their business, but nothing compares to helping someone achieve the American Dream. 

What ways has the Chamber been helpful to building your business?

The Chamber is outstanding for networking and getting to know your neighbors.  Also, giving feedback to the business owners as well, and in most cases, thanking them for what they have done for the neighborhood and community.  

Feast: For the Senses

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Friday, July 13, 2012

This blog post was contributed by: Malcolm Logan, a freelance writer and Wicker Park Bucktown resident. Visit his website at He can be reached at

Bucktown’s Feast is more than just a restaurant.  

Oh sure, the wonderful flavors served up by Chef Debbie Sharpe are a treat for the palate, but then there are the aromas, textures and presentation of such dishes as barbecue salmon with buttermilk hot cakes and slow cooked lamb shank with shaved romano, making for a total sensory experience - and that’s just what’s on the plate in front of you.

Check out the wine list.  

Noted sommelier, Bret Heiar, recent winner of the Australian Regional Wine Immersion Program, has carefully selected more than 50 delectable vintages.  It’s hard to go wrong.  But for a true Bucktown experience, few things match the sublime pleasure of sipping a cool, crisp chardonnay on Feast’s flower-filled patio in the summer.  Talk about immersion!

Even if you have a specialized diet, Feast can make your dining experience - well, a feast.  

There are more than two dozen gluten free choices and plenty of inspired vegetarian options like the black bean veggie burger with pepper jack, avocado and chipotle aioli, or the beloved butternut squash ravioli with spiced walnuts, crispy sage leaves, brown butter and goat cheese.And dessert?  How about a delicious tiramisu made up of layers of espresso soaked cake dripping in chocolate sauce?  Or white chocolate citrus bread pudding with lime creme anglaise and orange tuile garnish?  Are your senses exulting?

And Feast is a feast for the eyes.  

Working from a palate of violets and earth tones, the setting is vibrant and cheerful.  In the summer the spacious outdoor patio is a huge neighborhood favorite.  In the winter, a cozy fireplace provides a cushy refuge while you await your table.  

But for all Feast’s sensual charms nothing beats its famed brunch.  

Sweet and savory choices abound.  Standouts include oatmeal pancakes with cinnamon-apple compote, honey-vanilla butter and walnut brittle; and eggs royale with two poached eggs and smoked salmon over an english muffin with hollandaise sauce and caviar.  Yum.

Yes, Feast is more than just a restaurant.  

Breakfast, lunch or dinner, it’s a feast for the senses.  If you find yourself in Bucktown, take some time out to enjoy Feast.  Immerse yourself in it.  You’ll be glad you did.


1616 N Damen Ave
(between Wabansia & Milwaukee Ave) 
Chicago, IL 60647  
(773) 772-7100

Wicker Park Bucktown News - May 2 2012

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Thursday, May 03, 2012

Only a Few More Days Left to Enter to Win a Beautiful Bucktown Poster

Answer questions on what kinds of businesses you'd like to see in Wicker Park Bucktown and where you'd like to spend your dollars and you're entered to win this beautiful screen-printed Bucktown poster by StudioChris. Make sure to include your email address for a chance to win! Take our survey now

May Chamber Mixer at The Anthem

When: Wed, May 16th, 6-8pm
Where: The Anthem, 1725 W. Division
Cost: Free for Chamber Members, $5 for Non-Members
Grow your network or just casually meet your neighbors at the Chamber's May Networking Event at The Anthem! Click here for more information and to RSVP. 

Summer Sidewalk Sales

When: Jul 21st-22nd & Aug 25th-26th, 2012
Where: Wicker Park Bucktown
Our two signature summer sidewalk sales exclusively for Wicker Park Bucktown merchants are back again this summer! Participation in both weekends' sales are free to WPB Chamber Members and $100 for non-members. For more information and to sign your business up to participate, click here.

Wicker Park Fest 2012

When: Sat & Sun, July 28th-29th, 2012
Where: Milwaukee Avenue between North & Paulina
Cost: $5 donation
Described as Chicago's "best street festival of the summer" by the Chicago Tribune, Wicker Park Fest 2012 is sure to top what was an amazing slate of performances, food and vendors at Wicker Park Fest '11. Check our website to find out more about the upcoming line-up and apply as a vendor! Also, "LIKE" the official fan page on Facebook!

Wicker Park Bucktown News - April 25 2012

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Thursday, April 26, 2012

Every Day is Earth Day

Keep up your efforts to go green and save money with some earth-friendly ideas that you can act on any day of the year: 

Small Business Energy Savings Program 

Small businesses receive expert advice on energy-saving improvements for their business, and assistance with the application for rebates on energy improvement investment. There are program freebies too, such as compact fluorescent lamps, faucet aerators, and pre-rinse sprayers! For more information, please click here

10 Simple Things: WPB Green Designation 

The Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber's Green Committee has assembled a list of actions, ranging from simple, low-cost tasks to big ticket investments with long term pay-offs for member businesses that wish to go green and save money. Review the list, complete ten action items, and earn "WPB Green" designation. For more information, please click here

Featured Green & Eco-Friendly Chamber Members:

Greenheart Shop, 1911 W. Division, is Chicago's premier eco-fair trade non-profit shop, carrying eco fair trade products made by artisans from around the world.

The ReBuilding Exchange, 2160 N. Ashland, a project of the Delta Institute, offers reclaimed building materials at a fraction of the cost, keeping them out of our landfills, and available to residents at all income levels, particularly those who can't afford the rising costs of such materials. Classes and volunteer opportunities also available!

Reynolds Power/Zap My Bill, 1286 N. Milwaukee, is a commercial, medical, municipal and industrial full-service energy solutions company that offers a fresh and innovative process for helping you save money on electricity and natural gas. 

For a complete list of Green & Eco-Friendly Chamber Member Businesses, please click here.

Wicker Park Bucktown News-April 18 2012

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Thursday, April 19, 2012

Win a Bucktown Poster! 

Take our survey, do something great for our neighborhood and get a chance to win a beautiful screen printed poster by StudioChris! In this 10-minute survey, you can tell us what kind of businesses you want (or don't want) to see in Wicker Park Bucktown. Include your email address and you've got a chance to win. Fast & Easy! Take the survey now. Good Luck! 

Wicker Park Bucktown News-April 11 2012

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Thursday, April 12, 2012

Summer Event Vendor Applications

We are NOW accepting vendor applications for the following exciting upcoming Chamber events and festivals. 

For artists, retail, restaurants and non-profits:
Wicker Park Fest 
July 28-29

Polish Triangle Marketplace
June 7-Sept. 27 

For Wicker Park Bucktown Businesses:
Summer Sidewalk Sales
July 21-22 and/or Aug. 25-26 

Space is limited, so please send in your application today!


Your Input Needed!

The Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce and WPB SSA #33, 1414 N. Ashland, need your input! We have hired Business Districts, Inc, to conduct a market study to identify our neighborhood's unique strengths and opportunities. Please take the survey now and pass it on to your customers, partners, neighbors, and fellow business owners. Your help completing and circulating the survey will be invaluable to the market study results and help our local economy thrive. Thank you!


The 3/50 Project: Saving the Brick and Mortars Our Nation is Built On, One Local Store at a Time

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Thursday, March 22, 2012
This blog entry was contributed by: Julie Horowitz Jackson, happily calling Bucktown her home now for fifteen years. Her store, Virtu, celebrated 11 years in business last month. Her husband owns Color Wheel Studio, another Bucktown business, and their son attends Pulaski International Academy, one of Bucktown’s four neighborhood CPS schools. Go goat or go home!

Last we met on this here local blog, I mentioned a bit about The 3/50 Project. It's a simple concept based on the idea of "saving the brick and mortars our nation is built on" one local store at a time.

Easy, right?

Well, tickle me pink, but who should walk through my door on Friday, but the incredibly talented and focused Cinda Baxter, fearless leader of The 3/50 Project. Armed with a fancy new update to The 3/50 Project's Look Local app, we chatted at the store and then embarked upon a petite tour of the neighborhood while on our way to lunch at Hot Chocolate, 1747 N. Damen. 

Shop local, eat local, and where better to do it than a repeatedly nominated James Beard Award finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef? (Woo-hoo Mindy!) And, oh, by the way while Cinda and I dined on wedge salad with shrimp, there were five other local business women dining at the same time, two who happened to own boutiques right here in Bucktown. Shop and dine independently local in your neighborhood, and the neighborhood stays flavorfully alive.

After a requisite 64% cacao Chocolate #1 dessert, we headed back to Virtu and said our goodbyes. There was no time to waste as Ms. Cinda was on her way throughout the city on a virtual tour of local retailers as provided by said Look Local app. It's even in the App Store! (Don't worry, the Droid version is on the way...)

So, why the story? 

Just a reminder to consider your purchases when possible. I know it's tough. You're picking up the kid and you forgot something that goes in tonight's dinner. Head on over to Olivia's Market, I bet they have it. 

Sure, it's easier to do your major buys elsewhere sometimes, hey, even I head to Target now and again. All I'm asking is that before you get in your car to go into the dreaded Clybourn Corridor or, worse, sign online to (Eeek!) Amazon, pop your head into your locally owned kid's store, floral market, book store (holler to Myopic!) or boutique and you will surely find a real live, friendly person just waiting to show you what's in store on your very own Main Street.

If you take a moment to check out The 3/50 Project's website, you'll find the following local businesses:

Building Blocks Toy Store
Goddess and Grocer
Radiance Fine Jewelry
Store B Vintage
and, of course, my own store Virtu.

A note to my fellow business owners, sign on up through the project if you'd like. It costs you absolutely nothing to be part of an esteemed group of crazy entrepreneurs who decided to make their dreams happen close to home.  As an added bonus, you'll get a bunch of information you can share with your customers about why shopping with you matters. 

Shop small, shop ethically and save the community in which you live. Your neighbors will love you for it!

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