Daily file photo by Zoe Malin
As winter approaches, Evanston residents have “adopted” local businesses to support them through the holiday season.
After seeing the community engagement in her Facebook group Support Evanston Shops, Salons, and Studios, Evanston resident Ande Breunig wanted to help local businesses stay afloat amid the pandemic. In early November, she created the Adopt-a-Shop Program, where members of her Facebook group choose a specific business they each want to support.
Members can comment underneath Breunig’s posts on what local business they would like to “adopt.” Then, the adoptee buys something from the shop once a week and posts about their experience in the Facebook group. Breunig also encourages members to connect with shop owners.
So far, over 90 businesses have been adopted with a goal of 100 businesses before December. The response, Breunig says, has been “so overwhelmingly positive.”
“I love the idea of having everyone come together for a common cause,” Breunig said. “Once you set your mind to something, there’s no limit to what you can achieve. That is even more truthful when you have a community rallying, not behind you, but beside you.”
Ten Thousand Villages, a not-for-profit Fair Trade retailer that has been in South Evanston for the past 23 years, is an “adopted” business. During the pandemic, the store saw a decrease in gift sales as people were staying home, store manager Joseph Meyer said.
Meyer says he is “thrilled” about the Adopt-a-Shop Program and emphasized that supporting local businesses is more than “just a feel good” action. Local businesses contribute sales tax revenue and payroll dollars into the economy, none of which happens on Amazon, said Meyer.
“We have watched families grow up. We now have shoppers in our store who used to come in as kids with their moms,” Meyer said. “We can see the direct impact in our community.”
Jaime Leonardi, who co-owns the mother-daughter gift shop Stumble & Relish, said she “couldn’t believe” how quickly shops were getting adopted. Leonardi added that she hopes people will turn to local businesses during the holiday season, the most important time of year for many of them.
“There’s (no small business) that’s doing amazing, but I think everyone is doing the best that they can and they’re trying to make the best out of it,” Leonardi said. “So, I’m just so thankful for the customers that we have and the community that we have.”
Teacher Maggie Coyne began participating in the Adopt-a-Shop Program when she saw Breunig’s initial Facebook post. Since then, she has adopted Stumble & Relish and Booked, a local children-focused bookstore. She has purchased items ranging from candles and earrings to posters and local art.
As a lifelong Evanston resident, Coyne has watched the city change over time and feels a “sense of loss” when she sees small businesses close.
“I have a responsibility as somebody who lives in this town to support the people who try to make the town better,” Coyne said. “Evanston is not perfect by a longshot, but I’m proud to live in a place where local businesses and the individuality of those businesses — that’s prized.”
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