BRONZEVILLE — A city-funded initiative aims to give a bigger platform to local businesses that give back to their communities and make it easier for shoppers to support them.
ShoCo Chicago launched earlier this month with several Bronzeville businesses joining its roster, including Bronzeville Winery, The Work Spot and Southside Grinds.
People go to ShoCo’s site to see businesses and what charitable organizations those shops represent. Then, they set up an account to be a shopper and enter their ShoCo ID when shopping with a participating business. After their purchase, a shopper can log into their ShoCo account to see the positive impact that purchase made while receiving rewards for their contributions.
Co-founders Carina Daniels, Anna Benuzzi and Natalie Pawelski came up with the concept to encourage people to shop at businesses committed to philanthropy.
“I wanted to support local businesses that gave back, but I was having a hard time finding them,” Daniels said. “With the [COVID-19] pandemic, I felt that we needed to make it easy for people to find businesses that were doing good and businesses that reflect their values.”
The trio approached the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection with their idea, learning the city already had plans to launch a COVID-19 small business support program. ShoCo applied and received $60,000 — the maximum amount of funding — to make it happen.
More than 40 local businesses have signed on so far, Daniels said.
Ajai Fraizer, co-owner of The Work Spot, a custom apparel printing company that was one of Boxville’s first tenants, said joining ShoCo was another way to expand on the collaborative work their team was already doing in Washington Park.
“It’s cool that we get a diverse group of people who shop with us through ShoCo. It was an amazing opportunity to bring awareness to the initiatives we have, what we’re doing and our services,” said Fraizer, whose ultimate goal is to build a warehouse hub and satellite facilities that would allow The Work Spot to hire from within those communities.
“We pride ourselves on being passionate about our work, and we want to be able to teach the youth a trade, or show them what entrepreneurship looks like. … We’re looking to expand throughout the city and implement that kind of thinking.”
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: