Shop Calumet City: The Article that Didn’t Make Quite It

I submitted the following article to our local newspaper, the Shopper.

More than news, I guess it sounded like a letter to the editor, so it was printed in the “Speak Out” section of the paper, without a byline. (Maybe that’s not such a big deal. I’ll have to be more specific next time.)

I wasn’t going to publish it here, since news articles are printed on the Shopper’s website. But because this wasn’t considered news, it’s not. So here it is.


‘Shop Cal City’ is a Two-Way Street

Residents of Calumet City have probably received a post card introducing the new “Shop Calumet City” program.  This project, the brainchild of Alderman Thaddeus Jones is designed to boost the local economy, support our local business community and generate revenue for schools and other municipal projects.

It’s a great idea. Probably long overdue.

It also seems to be somewhat incomplete in its scope.

In recent months, we’ve seen several major businesses pack up and leave town (Sears, Old Navy, etc.). Numerous small businesses have had to shut their doors, as well. River Oaks mall looks like a ghost town sometimes; Wentworth Woods looks even worse.

Shopping local is the responsibility of citizens in communities everywhere, isn’t it?

I often hear people grumble, “THEY need to put more stores here.” Well, the fact of the matter is, WE need to make setting up shop here in Calumet City a profitable endeavor.

But shopping local is a two-way street.

Businesses need to understand how to promote themselves and provide top-notch customer experiences for their local clientele. Owners can’t complain about a lack of customers if they’re just sitting and waiting for us to come.

It’s the responsibility of those people running the businesses to give customers a good reason to spend money with them.

We want to support you! But you have to let us know you’re there. You have to show us how we will benefit from shopping with you.

You have to be a real part of the community and create real value for the people in our neighborhoods.  Then we’ll happily patronize your store.

That’s the give and take of a shop local program. I think both  lanes on this two-way street could use some repairs. Hopefully Alderman Jones program will be a major step in the right direction.


My buddy John Breese also posted an interesting perspective (his point of view is always interesting) over on the One Hour Startup blog. Check out The Dark Knight of Marketing Takes Over the City.

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Shop Calumet City: My Introduction

I noticed the banners around town a few weeks ago.

To be perfectly honest, I thought they were not-so-subtle propaganda. Calumet City isn’t the greatest place to shop. Anyone familiar with the area knows that; outsiders would find out quickly.

About two weeks ago, a postcard mailer came out introducing the “Shop Calumet City” program. 3rd Ward Alderman Thaddeus Jones is spearheading an attempt to stimulate the local economy and support the business community here in town.

Now the banners make a little more sense.

As a Cal City citizen and businessperson, I feel compelled to comment on this program and it’s resulting effects. I plan to do so here on my blog over the coming days. I believe my gifts, expertise and experience could make valuable contributions to this effort.

As much as it will probably seem like it, I’m not attacking Jones or his ideas. But sometimes the best way to improve something is to point out weaknesses or inconsistencies, and that’s one of the things I do to help people and businesses get better at what they do. I come off harsh sometimes, the same way a trainer may seem rough on his boxing students.

I’ll be sharing my thoughts and I hope to hear from my fellow citizens in Chicago’s south suburbs and northwest Indiana. A lot of our neighborhoods are going through similar struggles. Many businesses will find insights that can help them reach higher levels of success.

If you’re interested in going even deeper, you can sign up for my email list specifically for Chicago’s South Siders. Here you go:

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