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In Focus: Independent businesses in Evanston deal with declining support

Thanks to Ryan Wangman, editor of The Daily Northwestern's "In Focus," and to reporter Sophia Scanlan for this disturbing look at the struggles of Evanston's small, local businesses to stay afloat.

Shop local, friends. And make sure to register for Le Tour de Noir--a bus tour of Evanston's Black businesses--on April 4. Register here.

Find the Black Business Consortium's directory of Black businesses here.


"If you walk through the streets of Evanston, you’ll notice struggling small businesses, empty storefronts and a plethora of big-box chains.

"Small businesses in the city have faced challenges in the past decade. In the last year alone, several longstanding independent stores have closed, including Market Fresh Books, Williams Shoes the Walking Spirit and Coucou & Olive — all of which had been in Evanston for at least 10 years, if not longer.

"This trend is not specific to Evanston. Other college towns like Cambridge, Mass. and Berkeley, Calif. have seen spikes in closures of independent shops and restaurants. Though this is a decades-old, nationwide problem, it’s been exacerbated in recent years.

“'Generally, the 5th Ward businesses are stable, and some are scaling, but there is certainly room for more economic activity throughout the 5th Ward,'” Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (5th) said. “We have segregated business corridors and … if you have a business model that depends on pedestrian traffic or other traffic, it’s not as competitive as other merchant districts in the area.”

Click here to read the full Daily Northwestern story.

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