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Friday, October 31

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Turning the Page

Groupon launched the Yelp-like "Pages" nationwide, featuring more than 7 million listings of businesses, tips and reviews.

Meet the Millenials

Crain's profiles some of Chicago's twentysomethings to see how they're faring in today's economy.

The New Factory Farm

A greenhouse and rooftop farm planned for the Method factory on the South Side will be the largest in the world, reports Matt Hickman.

Stores Deliver Too

Google's shopping service that offers same-day delivery from local stores, Google Express, will soon be available in Chicago.

LiveNationPalooza

LiveNation is trying to buy a majority stake in C3 Presents, the company behind Lollapalooza and Do312. Incidentally, Ari Emanuel is on LiveNation's board. Oh, and there was that Daley deal...

In the Cards

Chicago magazine finds out what's up with the Cards Against Humanity guys.

Shopping for Data

Jewel-Osco announced that it may have had a customer data breach. Again.

The Green Rush

With the legal marijuana industry expected to reach over $2.6 billion by the end of the year, budding pot entrepreneurs are in town looking for investors.

Ghosts in the Computer

The Chicago's Extinct Businesses Facebook page keeps the memory of long-shuttered local businesses alive. [via]

Bazaar History

While the Megamall in Logan Square is mostly empty and in disrepair today, it once housed a vibrant indoor flea market that was a hub of food, shopping, and street art.

Social Drinkers

Two competing craft breweries, Ale Syndicate and Arcade Brewery, share the same brewing facility in Logan Square.

The Razr's Edge

Motorola was once one of the most powerful corporations in America. Chicago magazine takes a look at what happened to the once-mighty brand.

The Post-Dominick's World

WBEZ explores how Chicago's changing grocery store mix is affecting how we live and shop.

Looking for a Halloween Costume with Impeccable Provenance?

The Lyric Opera is hosting a sale of more than 3,000 of its costumes next week.

Textbook Tech Deal

Chicago-based Packback Books digital textbook rental company has raised $1 million in angel investments, including some seed money from Mark Cuban on "Shark Tank" this spring.

Bye Bye, Jelly Belly

After more than 100 years in North Chicago, Jelly Belly (née Herman Goelitz Candy Co.) is moving most of its candy production to California and laying off 66 people. (You'll still be able to go on warehouse tours in Wisconsin.)

Kickstart Your Week

A documentary on bucket boys, upgrading 826CHI's Boring Store, a "Cooking with Drag Queens" video series, and a comic about warring woodland creatures are some of the projects currently funding on Gapers Block's curated Kickstarter page.

Boosting Pullman

An effort to rehab and renovate homes in the Pullman neighborhood will be paid for with money received by the state as part of a settlement with banks accused of mortgage fraud.

Stamping Out Burgers

Hollymatic helped standardize hamburger portions, for better or worse. The Distance profiles the 77-year-old company.

Cupcakes for a Cause

Today through Sunday, grab a special Lollapalooza cupcake at the State Street Magnolia Bakery location and $1 of each goes to the non-profit Foundations of Music, which provides music education programs to Chicago Public School students.

Supersized Liability

The National Labor Relations Board ruled McDonald's is a "joint employer," making it liable for unfair labor charges brought against franchisees around the country.

Visiting the Wendy City

WendyCity is a new blog and tour company run by writer Wendy Bright.

Urban Cowboys

Alcala's Western Wear grew from a stall on Maxwell Street to a store in West Town with over 3,000 hats, 8,000 pairs of boots, and plenty of newly-popular Western plaid shirts.

Digital Currency for Carry-out

Lakeview restaurant Cassava doesn't just accept Bitcoin, it now houses a Bitcoin ATM.

That Independent Someone

New webzine Someone Else profiles the Oak Street boutique Independence.

Gem of Chicago or the Next Big Fiasco?

Mariano's is planning a new store for the former South Works place, and a developer is working on a gigabit fiberoptic network. But some worry that it's the 2016 Olympics all over again.

How to Spot a Diamond in the Rough

Antiques expert Toma Clark Haines shares some tips for finding good stuff at a flea market.

Inartful Dodgers

Walgreens is still considering moving its headquarters overseas to save money on taxes.

Knitters for the Win

An accountant who didn't file sales tax returns nearly put Edgewater's Sifu Design Studio out of business, but fans of the store saved it by donating on gofundme.

Not for Popcorn

A local trading firm purchased a microwave tower in Belgium, most likely so it can make faster trades on international markets.

Patio for Sale

The Patio Theater is now for sale for $3 million. Former GB contributor Gordon McAlpin reported on the classic film house's reopening in 2011.

The Benefits of Longevity

Eater talks with Tony Durpetti, owner of Gene & Georgetti, the oldest steakhouse in Chicago. Meanwhile, the Distance profiles Hala Kahiki, Chicagoland's oldest tiki lounge.

Suggested Minimum

A panel convened by Mayor Emanuel recommended raising the minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2018.

Cutting on the Flag

Olympic Store Fixtures sells restaurant-grade appliances, furniture, and Chicago flag cutting board. [via]

Building Businesses

Crain's highlights Chicago's best entrepreneurs of 2014, including the people behind Shred415, Joke's & Notes Comedy Club, and PoopBags.

Great City, Nice Hotels

Chicago is the fifth best city in North America in this year's Travel+Leisure World's Best list. The Langham Chicago was named sixth best hotel in the world, as well as first among US large city hotels.

Starting Up Chicago

Techweek Chicago is officially live and you can get the play-by-play of the latest apps and buzzwords to emerge from the conference through Tribune's Blue Sky.

Casualties of California & Augusta's Rise

Humboldt Park's Knockbox Cafe and Peanut Gallery will close at the end of September, as their leases were not renewed.

Working Underground

Unable to find work in traditional jobs, many Chicagoans are forced to find work off the books.

The Customer is Always a Problem

NBC 5 investigates a man's claims that a company retaliated against him for a negative review he posted to Angie's List.

United States of X: Money Makers Edition

Agriculture giant Archer Daniels Midland covers Illinois on a map showing the largest companies by revenue in each state; ADM brings in an estimated $89.80 billion.

Inventing Over Spilled Milk

11-year-old Lily Born created the Kangaroo Cup so her grandfather, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, wouldn't spill his drinks.

Green Makers

Cleaning and hygiene product company Method is planning to build its first manufacturing facility in Pullman, one of only two LEED platinum certified factories, including a wind turbine, solar panels, and rooftop greenhouses.

Sold on Chicago

After buying local startup Braintree, eBay plans to grow its presence in Chicago, hiring hundreds of employees and setting up shop in the Merchandise Mart.

Jewelers Row is Tarnishing

The stretch of Wabash Street in the Loop that is home to hundreds of jewelers is dealing with the economy, competition from big brands, and now CTA construction that will close the street to traffic for up to two years.

Floating an Idea

A proposal to build a floating entertainment complex a mile off shore in Lake Michigan is first being tested on Kickstarter to gauge the concept's popularity.

What Ticketing Tables Does

It's been three years since Next opened with a ticket-based reservation system, and the concept is beginning to catch on in the industry. Nick Kokonas explains how the system works and what difference it's made to the business.

Listing Success

Crain's highlights Chicago's 50 fastest growing companies while Techweek Chicago profiles leaders from 100 organizations making an impact on business & technology.

No Longer Homemade

Homemade Pizza abruptly closed all its stores this weekend, and deleted its website and social media presence.

A Meaty Offer

Tyson Foods offered $6.8 billion for Chicago-based Hillshire Brands, which makes Hillshire Farms meats, Ball Park hot dogs and Jimmy Dean sausages.

Goodbye, Gay Mart

Gay Mart has closed after more than two decades on Halsted Street. Chicago Phoenix's Gerald Farinas reflects on the store's role in the LGBT community and how Boystown has evolved.

Working for the Long Term

The Distance, a new business magazine from Basecamp (previously), launched today with a profile of Horween Leather Company, the city's last tannery.

Pick Up Some Portillo's

As in, all the Portillo's. The privately owned, Oak Brook-based Portillo's Restaurant Group is exploring the sale of its namesake restaurant chain.

A New Thread

Threadless is changing the way it pays artists who contribute designs to the site, cutting them in on the sales of their shirt instead of paying them a flat fee.

"The PWNMEAL is NOT a Lie."

Max Temkin explains how Cards Against Humanity punked PAX East with "extreme gaming oatmeal" PWNMEAL packets -- with cards hidden inside.

Not Our Bags, Baby

City Council passed a citywide ban on the use of plastic bags by chain and franchise stores.

The Price of Writing

In the Billfold, Chicago writer Andrew Reilly measures the cost of changing careers to become a journalist.

That Startup Lifestyle

Interested in working at a tech startup? Uncubed this Thursday is sort of a speed-dating session with local tech companies, as well as a day of workshops for job-hunters.

Moving Mobile

The Verge takes a look at Motorola's move into the Merchandise Mart and towards new strategies for competing with smartphone makers like Apple and Samsung.

Renters Should Buy, Says Real Estate Firm

The Trib shared survey results claiming that almost half of Chicago renters could buy a home, but the stats sounded fishy to Chicagoist's Lisa White.

Stay with Cool Friends

A newish hostel has opened up in Wicker Park. Holiday Jones offers hipster-friendly group accommodations in a former SRO at rates that beat most AirBnBs.

Green Thumbs

A new wave of startups are bringing digital know-how to the agricultural sector, building apps for farmers to better monitor rainfall and manage their crops.

Shrinking Sears

Salon traces Sears' decline from building the world's tallest building to closing its store in the Loop.

The Job Situation

The unemployment rate in Illinois isn't going down as quickly as in other Midwest states. The WSJ points to Springfield's economic policies as the reason.

Not So Happy Franchise

Owning a franchise isn't what it's cracked up to be, WBEZ discovers.

Not Permitted

A City employee stole over $741,000 by diverting funds from checks written by companies applying for city permits.

Kickstarting Capital

Local startup founders are calling for the FCC to loosen restrictions and make it possible for small companies to raise funding through crowdsourcing.

Table to Farm

At The Plant, Chicago's food waste will provide energy for electricity, heat, and beer brewing.

"Nature's Job Creators"

The Second City Network reminds everyone that all these potholes create jobs at auto supply shops and mechanics. Not to mention lawyers.

Shell Games

Marketplace reports major companies with offices in Chicago and the suburbs are avoiding local taxes by funneling part of their business through small, empty offices in distant Illinois towns with more favorable tax codes.

Sayonara Sears

The shelves at Sears' store in the loop were picked clean for the last time this weekend.

Where to Work

Crain's released its annual Best Places to Work list, and added in top 10s for Millennials and Gen-Xers.

Packing'em In

Seems a little late to be worried about the loss of the Meatpacking District, what with Randolph Street and half of Fulton Market taken over by high-end restaurants, but two new hotel projects really have residents and businesses concerned about the area's namesake being pushed out.

The City that Works and Works

There's no telling who you might meet when the International Carwash Association comes to town to celebrate the profession's 100th anniversary.

Flyover No More

As further evidence of Chicago's growing popularity as a place to start or locate a business, the city was home to more corporate facility investment projects than any other U.S. city in 2013.

Bad Business, Man

Suburban-based Sears Holdings and McDonald's are on Consumerist's 2014 Worst Company in America bracket.

Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Business

For better or worse, Chicago is tops at convincing businesses to move here, according to Site Selection magazine. (Thanks, Dee!)

The Start Up Kids

A nationwide contest will try to bring the "next big thing" to Chicago by providing young entrepreneurs with free office space and connecting them with potential investors and mentors for a year.

Shutter Closes on Calumet

Calumet Photo abruptly closed all its US stores today and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A post of Facebook says they're "exploring opportunities to reopen select locations to keep serving our customers." Update: their U.S. Facebook account is now closed.

Gender, Stereotyping & Occupational Hiring

Two Chicago area business school professors helped coordinate a new study that demonstrates some of the ways women are discriminated against in scientific careers.

Chicago Motors On

Chicago is not going to be the next Detroit, despite budget and pension issues that still need to be addressed, according to an analysis by Standard & Poor's.

Mark's Chop Suey Final Day After 38 Years

The Chinese food restaurant Mark's Chop Suey in Boystown will permanently close its doors today after 38 years of service. The restaurant's owner, Amy Mark, 64, is ready to slow down. Marks' is right next to Sidetrack, one of the best-known gay bars in Chicago, which is one of the reasons why Mark chose the location in the first place.

Business as Usual

A key economic indicator seems to show the impact of this winter's terrible cold on most businesses was minimal.

The Island of Technology

Goose Island will be the site of a digital manufacturing institute, funded in part by a $70 million federal grant.

Whole Foods Delay

Whole Foods won't open its new locations in former Dominick's stores until 2015, Crain's reports.

BYO Deal

Groupon is rolling out a new tool giving businesses the ability to pick from deal templates and create their own offer for the site.

Mapping a Takeover

A handy map charts the fate of former Dominick's stores as they are bought out by grocery chains and other businesses.

DePaul Campus: No Longer a Food Desert

Whole Foods Market Inc. confirmed purchasing four former Dominick's stores in Chicago, including the Lincoln Park location at 959 W. Fullerton Ave., the center of DePaul University's campus. Other locations purchased includes the West Loop, Edgewater and Streeterville.

Fun Elsewhere

If you miss Uncle Fun already, Time Out suggests a few places you can go to get your fix.

Tweet Local

Twitter is hiring in Chicago, primarily to support its nascent advertising platform.

Math Men

Crain's profiles how smaller ad agencies are taking on the giants in the digital age, where data and analytics are valued higher than pitches and expensive suits.

Moto's New Masters

Google is selling Motorola Mobility to Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo for $2.91 billion. (Schaumburg-based Motorola Solutions, which split from Mobility three years ago, isn't part of the deal.)

Looking Young for a Centenarian

Morton Salt's Umbrella Girl turns 100 this year, so the company gave her (and the rest of its logo) an update.

Start Making Stuff

Chicago 1872, the hardware-oriented tech startup community, has changed its name to Catalyze Chicago and will open Feb. 17.

Starting Up Something Good

Companies forming with the help of the Impact Engine accelerator are focused on solving societal problems instead of profits.

California: Gun Experts

In crafting the city's new policy allowing for gun sales, Mayor Emanuel is turning to California for inspiration. Set to be active within six months, gun rights activists think that the Los Angeles influence will create strong restrictions on firearm retailers.

Does Cash Exchange Take Bitcoins?

While San Francisco is Bitcoin crazy, the digital cryptocurrency is only beginning to take off in Chicago. (No word one places taking Dogecoin yet.)

Beer Money

Lagunitas is nearly done with its new brewery and taproom, and is hiring for practically everything right now.

Masters of New Industry

Chicago will host 300 industrial executives, entrepreneurs, and public officials for an invite-only summit plotting the Midwest's role in the "next industrial revolution."

Reduce, Reuse, Rehab It

A couple wants to turn an empty storefront beneath the Bryn Mawr El stop into a community center where people can fix broken household appliances, do DIY projects, or learn a new skill; they're funding their effort through an Indiegogo campaign.

Toy Stories

1,001 Chicago Afternoons has a two-part farewell to the closing Uncle Fun.

Coworking for Makers

The guys behind MakeItFor.Us are launching the Makery, a shared retail space on the near West Side backed up with technical and logistical support.

The Biz of the Box

Inc. peeks behind the curtains at the business side of Cards Against Humanity.

Get Off Your Couch Office

Grind, a newish coworking space on LaSalle Street, is offering a free day pass [PDF] to check out the space.

Patent Holders Beware

Attorney Anthony Brown, one of the guys for whom the term "patent troll" was coined, is back in business -- now running Northbrook-based Cascades Ventures, suing Motorola Mobility and other smartphone companies for patent infringement.

Heroin is the Business

The Reader and WBEZ begin an investigative series today on the effects of the heroin trade in Chicagoland, with a look at the business structure of dealers on the West Side and the how heroin has evolved in this market. Catch Mick Dumke and Natalie Moore on WBEZ's "Afternoon Shift" discussing the article later today.

Sales Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity cost $5 on Black Friday. Interestingly, they sold slightly more copies of the game on Amazon than last year -- and even more the day after.

11 Dominick's Stores Sold, More Deals Coming

Eleven of the Chicagoland Dominick's stores slated to close by the end of the year, including three in the city, will become Mariano's after a brief closure for rehab and rebranding. Meanwhile, Whole Foods is eying seven stores, including four in Chicago and one in Evanston.

Where are the Black Businesses?

Crain's reports that future black business leaders are harder to find. But Aaron Freeman says that might be a good thing.

More Trib Layoffs

The Tribune Company announced a "restructuring" of its publishing operations which includes eliminating 700 jobs at the Chicago Tribune and other papers it operates.

Economic Powerhouse

Chicagoland's economy is bigger than all but 20 countries in the world, as well as 44 states, according to a report by the US Conference of Mayors.

Life on a Big Boat

Ted McClelland takes a ride on a freighter carrying taconite pellets away from Mittal Steel in East Chicago, learning a little about the crew who keeps the ship running.

Fall Flash Mobs

"Flash mobs" of shoplifters targeted a few Chicago-area Sports Authority stores, rolling entire racks of new clothes out the doors.

Dominick's Won't See 2014

Safeway will close any unsold Dominick's stores on Dec. 28, Crain's reports.

Create Together

There are now enough coworking spaces for them to specialize. Design Cloud has turned its gallery space into a coworking office for freelance creatives.

Tubes, Barns & Bridges

Crain's visits five of the city's coolest offices.

Beef with Bill Kurtis

Broadcaster Bill Kurtis and his Tallgrass Beef Company are being sued by the former CEO, who says he's owed back pay.

Dominicks' on the Block

Safeway Foods announced during its quarterly earnings report yesterday that it will pull out of the Chicago market by early next year, selling or closing its 72 Chicagoland Dominick's stores, which face increased competition on both the low and high end. Four stores, including two in Chicago, have already been sold to Jewel's corporate parent.

The Hard Numbers

A trader pleaded guilty to helping defraud investors of more than $500 million dollars in one of the largest fraud cases ever prosecuted in Chicago.

Yoga on the West Side

Mershawn Feltus was in prison for nearly 20 years for a murder he committed when he was 17. Now he's running a yoga studio in Austin, teaching people to balance mind, body and spirit.

Women & Children First For Sale

Women and Children First, one of the few feminist bookstores in the country (and the only one in the city) is available for purchase. It'll be sad to see things change, but the current owners are willing to help with the transition, which hopefully means it will remain a feminist bookstore.

Improving Cycle Security

Tired of their own bikes being stolen, the founders of BikeSpike (previously) and the Bike Index are making it harder to steal bikes and easier to recover them.

Dept. of Logical Conclusions

Ald. Deborah Graham has proposed banning BYOB at restaurants within dry precincts, in reaction to a new banquet hall within a dry district in the 29th ward. Graham is the same alderman who helped make it possible for a convicted felon to open a liquor store with TIF money in an area with a moratorium on new liquor license. Ward Room has a good perspective on it.

Obsessing Over Film

Majestic Disorder profiles Brian Chankin, owner of video store and more Odd Obsession (previously all the way back in 2004).

The Other Green Jobs

A budding industry of schools that teach how to cultivate and sell marijuana- legally- is taking root in Illinois following the legalization of pot for medicinal purposes.

Faster Than the Speed of Light

Someone made a huge trade in Chicago's markets based on new information from the Federal Reserve two to three milliseconds after the agency made it public last week- and experts don't know how that's possible.

More Chicago Tech Charts

Built In Chicago has released its annual list of the city's top 100 digital companies. Compare with Crain's list of the top 50 people in tech.

Goose to Stay Put, Bayless to Expand

Goose Island is in talks with its landlord to keep the Clybourn brewpub open. Meanwhile, chef Rick Bayless is planning a new spot in Wicker Park, in the old Salud space.

City of Indie Gamers

Speaking of Cards Against Humanity, it's just one of the games Kotaku says is leading an indie gaming renaissance in Chicago.

Get TJ's Delivered

Grocery delivery service Instacart is expanding into Chicago, partnering with Trader Joe's. The company promises delivery in as little as an hour, which unfortunately means service is limited to within quick driving distance of a TJ's for now, but they plan to add Whole Foods, Dominick's and Costco soon.

Quiet That Cough

Do you recall Smith Brothers cough drops? The brand is undergoing a resurgence, under the guidance of new CEO Steve Silk.

Smith Brothers Cough Drops ad 1939

A Wal-Mart Reaction

Ken "artistmac" Smith attended the opening of the Pullman Wal-Mart opening earlier this week, and noted what a difference six years makes in terms of attitudes toward the big-box store.

Chicago as a Litmus Test

Matt Maloney, co-founder of GrubHub, tells the WSJ why Chicago is a great place for startups.

Bike Safety is Paramount

The Paramount Room at Kinzie and Milwaukee has set up a bike repair station to help passing commuters -- and encourage them to pop inside for a drink or bite.

Koch Bros. Buy Molex

The Koch brothers apparently decided that rather than buy the Tribune's newspapers, they'd just go pick up Lisle-based Molex, an electronics company, for $7.2 billion -- which means they'll soon make a little bit of nearly every computer you use.

Whole Foods to Open in Englewood

Whole Foods is publicly stating what's been known by Englewood organizers for a few months: It will open a store at 63rd and Halsted ... by 2016. For what it's worth, while Whole Foods and the Sun-Times imply Englewood is like the neighborhood where the Detroit location opened, it isn't.

Starbucks Will Be Contained

This fall, Starbucks hopes to bring their new drive-thru shop design to Rogers Park/Edgewater at the corner of Broadway and Sheridan. The kicker — the shop will be constructed entirely out of shipping containers.

Of Coffee and Donuts

Curious City did a crawl last month to find Chicago's best doughnut, but the question they really wanted to answer was, did Dunkin' Donuts kill the competition when it came here in 1965? The answer may surprise you.

Nike Doesn't Run Bucktown

An ad promoting the upcoming debut of a Nike running store in Bucktown featured the phrase "We Run Bucktown," which angered residents who thought it came off as arrogant, based on its double-entendre. It's been changed to "Nike Running Bucktown."

Privatized Bus Shelters a Good Deal

While the city seems to get the short end of the stick on most privatization deals, the one for bus shelters and newsstands (previously) has actually paid off.

Port of Chicago Privatized

The Port of Chicago is getting a $500 million investment and will be run by a private firm under a 62-year lease.

You Gotta Regulate It

Do you make consumer goods? Do you have an idea for a small business related to consumer goods? Are you interested in finding out all the rules and regulations on what can and can't be part of something manufactured, especially if it is manufactured for children? If so, then this small biz seminar put on by the Small Business Ombudsman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is for you. Free and open to the public, but an ID is needed to get past security.

Random Stat of the Day

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, more people claim the title of CEO in Chicago than in any other city.

Popping in at Cretors

Crain's took a tour of C. Cretors & Co., the Chicago-based inventors of the popcorn machine, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2011.

Take it Easy

Loyola business ethics professor Al Gini says taking a break from work is beneficial to the bottom line. With that in mind, we'll see you on Monday unless something important comes up

No School in East Garfield

The CPS school closures have left East Garfield Park with no neighborhood schools, and put the neighborhood's recovery from the housing bubble in jeopardy.

Screw Loyalty

Jewel-Osco is phasing out its loyalty card in favor of "card free savings."

Check out this kind of weird video they created to introduce "new" features like fresh-cut fruit and fried chicken.

O'Gara & Wilson's Final Chapter

Chicago's oldest bookstore, O'Gara & Wilson in Hyde Park, is closing after 100 years.

Google Moving to Fulton Market

Google will be moving into the former Fulton Market Cold Storage building, which was last in the news for the awesome video of it thawing out. Google-owned Motorola Mobility will stay in the Merchandise Mart.

Tough Biz in Chatham

It's tough running a business at the 600 block of East 79th Street. RedEye's Tracy Swartz talked with some of the local owners.

Cheetah Gyms in Danger of Closing

Cheetah Gym is in danger of being closed by MB Financial after the chain's owner, Reza Toulabi, defaulted on business loans. The gyms abruptly closed and soon reopened in 2007 after a bizarre series of events involving its former owner and employees. (Toulabi's been in the news more recently.)

Helping the West Side

The Stewards Market is a social enterprise in Humboldt Park started by a former minor-league baseball player and commodities trader.

Designs on Block 37

Block 37 is courting a couple of businesses that could finally breathe some life into the mall; meanwhile, the Chicago Design Museum's current exhibition gives you a reason to wander through.

#RamonWOW Makes it His Business

Ramon DeLeon, who rose from delivery driver to franchise owner in his 28 years with Dominos Pizza, announced this week that he's moving on to focus on his customer engagement consultancy, which grew out of his masterful use of Twitter.

Fresh Flowers Weekly

Flower CSAs are blooming in Chicagoland.

Know the Business

37signals founder Jason Fried has a new little project: helping business owners stay connected with their company.

Congress Hotel Strike Ends

The 10-year-long strike at the Congress Hotel has ended.

Staying in the Black with the Ink Trade

Seems like tattoo shops are becoming as common as mattress stores. Here's a look at the economics behind the tattoo business.

Distributing the Farmers Market

New distributor Local Foods Grocer is trying to turn locavorism into a business.

Your Seamless Hub for Food

Chicago-based GrubHub is merging with New York-based Seamless, creating an even bigger player in the food delivery biz. GrubHub's co-founder and CEO Matt Maloney will lead the combined company.

To Be Made in Chicago?

As manufacturing returns to the US after years of outsourcing, will Chicago and Illinois take part in the prosperity?

My Résumé is in Iambic Pentameter

Table XI's rhyming email to a job candidate is one example of how LinkedIn and other online job sites are changing how people get hired.

Cards Against a Business Plan

Chicago Grid's Meg Graham spent some time with the crew behind Cards Against Humanity to find out what makes them tick.

High School Manufacturing Startup

Four students at Austin Polytechnical Academy are launching a new manufacturing cooperative within the school today, with help from the Center for Workplace Democracy and Manufacturing Renaissance. MECH Creations will manufacture trumpet mouthpieces. [via]

Need a Gun?

ArmsList.com has more than 1300 advertisements for handguns in the Chicagoland area, including at least a couple possibly within the city itself.

Window on a New Era

In 2008, workers at Republic Windows & Doors occupied their factory when management abruptly fired them with no warning or severance. They won the battle, but the factory eventually closed last year. Some of the workers just launched New Era Windows in Little Village as an employee-owned cooperative.

20 & Under

After decades of 40 Under 40 lists, Crain's has launched its first 20 In Their 20s list.

Feeding the Community

Bernard Loyd hopes that Bronzeville Cookin', a new dining complex at 51st and Prairie, can help revitalize Bronzeville.

Profit in Milliseconds

Some traders are taking advantage of fraction-of-a-second delays between trades on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to predict which directions the futures markets are heading.

Wage Gap Remains

According to CareerBuilder research, women still aren't paid at an equal rate to men, and are underrepresented at top jobs. Meanwhile, CareerBuilder's VP of HR offers some suggestions on how to interview better.

Taking Advantage

Raiteros, brokers who hire day laborers on behalf of clients, are working with temp agencies to deliver cheap labor -- often at below minimum wage.

Chicago's Innovators

Crain's ranks Chicago businesses in terms of innovation with its new Eureka Index.

Internet Sales Tax Looks Likely

Sen. Dick Durbin's Marketplace Fairness Act, requiring online retailers to collect sales tax, will be voted on later this week.

Print Your Head

The 3D Printer Experience, a new store open today in the Loop, lets you scan and print your own head, among other interesting objects.

Go Have Fund

A children's book about an anvil, a hydroponic planter and a documentary about undocumented immigrants are some of the current projects on GB's curated Kickstarter page.

The Persistence of Bookstores

Independent bookstores survived the big box retailers and are thriving; now they're getting ready to face the rise of e-books.

Prepare Your Résumé

Digital ad agency Centro is the best place to work in Chicago, according to Crain's annual list of the top 20.

Help Bike Spike Get Moving

Startup Three Man Rocket hopes to raise enough through their Kickstarter campaign to fund a gadget called Bike Spike that would allow bike owners to not only track their bike if it's stolen, but also alert loved ones if they have an accident. (It's on our curated Kickstarter page.)

Cash from Crashes

LKQ Corp. is building an empire out of auto salvage yards.

Feeding the Neighborhood

Turkey Chop is part of an effort to help revitalize West Humboldt Park. Will it work?

Circa Ceramics Really Gets Around

If you've got a thing for cute graphics on durable ceramics, then you've probably run into Circa Ceramics at a local craft show or indie boutique. If you haven't, then we suggest you get to Nordstrom at Woodfield Mall to check out their wares. Etsy Wholesale has teamed up with various indie makers to get them sold in Nordstrom stores around the country. So hie thee to the suburbs if you need something awesome to drink tea from.

Let's Work Together

If the 1871 coworking center sounds like something you'd be into, keep your eye on Industrious, a similar concept with a little more privacy, opening in June. Or maybe The Logan Share, opening in May, is more your speed.

Culture in Crisis

Although the economy has begun to recover, the city's cultural institutions are still suffering after years of overextending and poor planning.

Feeling Less Distressed?

Crain's breaks down the neighborhood differences in the rate of "distressed" housing sales throughout the city. The situation improved in 2012, although with an average of 46.7%, nowhere was near perfect. Riverdale had the worst record, 100%, but even Lincoln Park had an 11.3% distressed sales rate.

And Boom Goes the Dynamite

Our fair city's most unexpected comedy offspring, Amsterdam's Boom Chicago, is gaining in size and stature.

A New Way to Boost Our Bottom Line?

The Atlantic Cities features Chicago-based CityScan, whose ability to combine open data and LIDAR to detect violations of city codes could be a boon for the budget.

This Doesn't Square Up

Square has received a cease and desist notice from the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation. Here's the filing [PDF].

Welcome to the "Mega-Loop"

Crain's makes a case for a more broadly defined city center -- one that is the most prosperous in the nation.

Greetings from Chicago, Illinois!

Check out the Boston Public Library's online collection of Tichnor Brothers postcards, including this set of 194 Illinois gems. Tip: the Chicago images, which include everything from historical skylines to more impressionistic industrial scenes, are towards the end of the set.

Simultaneously Alert and Exhausted

Fast Company ended up with Andrew Mason's last interview as CEO of Groupon.

CEO Mason Out at Groupon

Following reports of a severe stock downturn at Groupon, the company's CEO Andrew Mason was replaced today by two executives.

Groupon's New Deal

Is Groupon turning itself around? If they can wean everyone off emails, maybe. UPDATE: Groupon stock dropped 24% Wednesday on weak quarterly earnings.

That Good, Huh?

The boy band Mindless Behavior's concert at Ford City Mall seems to have prompted 100 teenagers to riot.

I Didn't Dream This, So Please Don't Build It

Billy Corgan and his wrestler posse filmed a cred-killing commercial with the Smithe Brothers for charity.

Helix Camera Shutters

Helix Camera is closing after 49 years; owner Paul Schutt is retiring. The store's last day is Saturday.

The Factory is the Desktop

Are we in the midst of a third industrial revolution? Inventables CEO Zach Kaplan thinks we are, and that Chicago is poised to be at the center of it.

What Would You Do with a Firehouse?

49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore is requesting proposals for the adaptive reuse of the former Greenleaf Avenue Firehouse. Here's the listing [PDF].

1723 West Greenleaf by Gapers Block

"Summer Camp for Adults"

Mac n' Cheese Productions' The Life of Yes Retreat was featured in a Forbes roundup of professional retreats to book this summer.

"Industrial Shangri-La" in Trouble

Marktown, the landmark northwest Indiana community surrounded by industry, may be threatened by BP's expansion of its Whiting refinery. See an aerial view of the neighborhood after the jump.

Marktown, Indiana Aerial Looking East

Belly Up for a Taste

Chicago-based loyalty card Belly has introduced Belly Bites, a "try it before you buy it" sample that businesses can offer potential customers.

Indie Banks on the Ropes

Despite the continuing economic recovery, Chicago's community banks are struggling.

Wrigley Rooftop Owners: Advertise Here!

Owners of rooftop clubs across from Wrigley Field offered to let the Cubs put digital billboards on their buildings, rather than see billboards erected as part of the proposed stadium renovations. They also noted that such plans would violate the landmark status of portions of Wrigley and also the 20-year revenue-sharing agreement between the rooftop clubs and the team.

Become a Hack

The city wants 2,000 more cab drivers, so Olive-Harvey College is hosting a free taxi driver recruitment day Feb. 7. Interview with cab companies and learn what's entailed to get licensed.

Save Marie's Riptide; Too Late for Cocktail

Marie's Riptide Lounge, a favorite old-school dive, may close this week due to legal wranglings after longtime owner 's death. Stop by today for a "Save the Bar" fundraiser. Meanwhile, Cocktail in Boystown has been seized by its landlord, alleging $85,000 in back rent.

Get a Kitty Tattoo

Insight Studios does monthly tattoo and piercing fundraisers for local animal shelters.

Let's All Go to the Movies

When the restored the Harper Theater, opens tomorrow night at 53rd and Harper in Hyde Park, it will be one of only two first-run mainstream movie theaters in Chicago south of Roosevelt Road -- the other being the Ford City 14.

Warriors, Come Out to Play

The PBS show "Market Warriors" recently filmed an episode at Chicago's own Randolph Street Market. The show debuts tonight at 9:00 pm on WTTW.

What the "Community" Wants from Lathrop Homes

Lathrop Community Partners, the organization coordinating community input for the redevelopment of Lathrop Homes, just released its summary of public input [PDF]. Among expressed opinions were a concern about the mixed-income character of the development, as well as preferences for reusing a "critical mass" of the existing buildings, maintaining a low-rise site and establishing high public transportation connectivity.

Indie Andersonville

Andersonville is praised for its support for independent businesses in a new economic study.

Waterlogged Suburban Mansion Finally Sold

Remember the Villa Taj, the gargantuan Burr Ridge mansion on the market for $25 million? Well, it finally sold for $3.1 million.

Building a "Legacy" in West Chatham

Hobby Lobby donated the former Soft Sheen beauty products factory site in West Chatham to the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church on New Year's Eve. The 14.5-acre property will be redeveloped into a mixed use complex, including a megachurch as well as retail and restaurant spaces. Here's a recap of how the transaction occurred.

Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church produced this video detailing the plan.

Outsourcing Killed the Company

R.S. Owens & Co., the company that makes the Oscars, Emmys and other trophies, was bought be a larger competitor last year. The company's former owner blames China for its downfall.

Lend us Money for Coffee

Bow Truss Coffee Roasters is planning a new location near the Merchandise Mart, and is hoping to crowdfund a loan via local startup LendSquare.

Delivering Holiday Cheer

Busy locals are taking advantage of Tree Santa, a Christmas tree delivery service.

GB Gift Guide: Tin Duck

North Center boutique Tin Duck features the creations of local artists and artisans -- a constantly rotating selection of handmade finery... jewelry, art, clothing, ceramics, bath and body products, stationary, accessories... you really never know what you'll find.

Electric Trucks Coming to Town

Smith Electric Vehicles will open its third US plant in Chicago, thanks in part to a $15 million incentive from the City. Smith expects to hire 200 workers; the factory's location has not yet been determined.

GB Gift Guide: Scrappers Documentary Film

Scrappers, the Chicago-based documentary about scrap metal collectors, was released today for digital download via iTunes and Amazon. The film was one of Roger Ebert's top documentaries of 2010 and was co-directed by the folks behind our short film series, The Grid.

"There's really no other."

Jet magazine interviews the only black comic book shop owner in America, Third Coast Comics' Terry Gant.

Walmart's Black Mark on Black Friday

Labor groups and employees are protesting outside area Walmarts during Black Friday to highlight what they say is unfair treatment by the company.

Classing Up the Crotch

Walgreens has opened a new upscale store, similar to its State Street flagship, in the former Noel State Bank building at North, Damen and Milwaukee in Wicker Park/Bucktown.

50 Wards, 50 Businesses

Local First Chicago is profiling an independent business in every ward as part of its Unwrap Chicago initiative.

Go to the Trunk Shows

The DIY Trunk Show kicks off at 10am this Saturday at the Broadway Armory; come say hi to Gapers Block at our booth! And right up the street at Broadway and Granville, the Vintage Garage Holiday Trunk Show gives you another reason to visit Edgewater.

Sears Re-Brand Central

Crain's columnist Joe Cahill thinks a name change would help reverse fortunes at Sears, so he asked readers to offer suggestions.

Sears & Inventor at Loggerheads

Chicagoan Dan Brown, inventor of the Bionic Wrench (previously), is suing Sears for copying his tool design and having it made in China.

Where You Should Be Working

Abt, Hyatt and Baird & Warner are the top three on the Trib's Top Chicago Workplaces 2012 survey.

Business is H E Double Hockey Sticks

The NHL lockout hasn't just disappointed hockey fans. It's hurt businesses that rely on Blackhawks fans.

Groupon's Discounting Continues

Groupon's stock continued to drop as the company reported a net loss in the third quarter. The company laid off 80 people yesterday. Meanwhile, GrubHub is prepping for an IPO next year.

The Pin Drops on U.S. Cellular

U.S. Cellular is selling its Midwest customers and spectrum -- including here in its home town -- to Sprint, pending FCC approval. The company will lay off workers in Chicagoland as a result of the deal. Its name will stay on the ballpark formerly known as Comiskey.

Cubs' Spring Training Facility Negotiations Halted

ASU and the Cubs have officially ended negotiations regarding sharing a new spring training stadium in Mesa, Arizona. A Cubs spokesperson's snide comment may explain the negotiation's tone: "We invited ASU to play in a rent-free stadium. Unfortunately, this was not enough to meet the university's needs."

Prentice to be Demolished

This afternoon the Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted 8-1 to deny landmark status to Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital. Paradoxically, the unusually rapid vote followed the board's unanimous decision that the building met landmarking criteria. Northwestern will demolish the building at an unspecified date.

A Promising Halloween

The Martin Prosperity Institute ranks the Chicago area as the best Halloween spot in the country. The factors? A relatively dense population, the highest number of candy stores per capita and a median income that allows for high candy "purchasing capacity."

Nice Office

Crain's tours you through some of Chicago's coolest offices.

Neighborhood not Pawned Off

Mick Dumke has an update on his story (previously) about 18th Ward residents fighting against yet another pawn shop: the neighborhood won.

Where the Cloud Atlases are Made

The Sun-Times takes you inside the Wachowski siblings' studio near Andersonville.

Shop Where You Live

It's not quite the holiday shopping season yet, but Local First Chicago would love you to pledge to buy local this year.

Chicago Aims for a New Target

Target has announced its plans to open another store in Chicago in October 2013. The new store will be located on west Division and north Larrabee streets, on the old site of Cabrini-Green.

A Nice Place to Stay

The Waldorf Astoria Chicago was voted the best hotel in America, and #12 in the world, in the 2012 Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards.

Pawning Off a Vacant Lot

The Reader this week tells the story of 18th ward residents' fight against yet another pawn shop in their neighborhood.

West Side Pete's in Trouble

Work has stopped on a new Pete's Fresh Market being built in the food desert area of East Garfield Park, after the developers allegedly received threats of violence if they didn't hand out jobs or pay a bribe. Of course, Pete's doesn't have a stellar record in worker relations themselves.

The Pulse of Freight

This week CMAP recently launched MetroPulse Jobs, a new site sharing research into workplace data, beginning with the freight industry.

From Circular File to Circling the Globe

The Reader follows the recycled paper trail from here to China and back.

Starting up Post-Groupon

The bloom may be off Groupon's rose, but Chicago's tech startup scene is thriving, says the Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal. He's even made a map for you.

Documenting the "Best Book Cave Ever"

Later this year the U of C is kicking the Seminary Co-op Bookstore out of its 50-year warren of rooms and relocating it to a former residence hall. In the meantime, Seminary Co-op Documentation Project has been following the process and producing audio interviews, photographs and other interesting tidbits about the bookstore. Background is available in this 2011 GB feature by one of the documentarians.

A Dozen New North Side Retailers

Crain's lists a barrage of new commercial venues to open in the Clybourn corridor, and a New York developer uses an odd metaphor about developers using their limited bullets at North and Clybourn. If you don't have time for the full article, the map is a great summary.

Music, Movies, Both, Something Else?

Jim DeRogatis wants to know what the Congress Theater's owner is doing with the Portage Theater, particularly because a lot of rules stand in the way of changing the venue.

The Congress Buys the Portage

Eddie Carranza, owner of the Congress Theater, has purchased the Portage Theater. I a message posted on Everyblock, Carranza said there are no immediate plans to bring concerts to the Portage, but might actually bring film programming to the Congress. Stay tuned for new developments.

The Glowing Puck Guy

Crain's profiles Hank Adams, CEO of Sportvision, the Ravenswood-based company responsible for football's first and ten lines and less beloved innovations.

Breathe a Little Deeper

In case you missed it, the Crawford and Fisk coal-fired power plants are now officially offline. Visit the city's Fisk and Crawford Reuse Task Force website for updates about redevelopment possibilities and to offer your own suggestions.

Fried's Favorite Cleaning Lady

37signals' Jason Fried looks to his cleaning woman as a business icon.

Groupon & LivingSocial Sued

Add patent infringement lawsuit to the list of Groupon's worries.

iPhones, U-Verse & More

AT&T is opening a "destination" flagship store at 600 N. Michigan Ave. this weekend, putting them in direct competition with the Apple Store at 679 N. Michigan Ave.

Bike Local, Buy Local

Crain's gives a good overview of the city's handbuilt bike companies.

Melting Ice Cream on the Street

Ice cream truck owners are claiming the city forgot about them in the mobile food and the food truck ordinance, and that it's going to make their business more difficult.

Groupon Investors Dealing Themselves Out

WSJ reports that some big, early investors are selling off stock as the share price drops further below $5.

Industrial Trouble in Lincoln Park

A. Finkl & Sons may be moving south, but that didn't stop it from getting slapped with 26 OSHA violations last week.

More than One Kind of Mobility

Motorola Mobility may be moving downtown, but Google is cutting 700 of those jobs. More context is provided by the NY Times.

Bid on 8x10s on 8/10

Starting today, local music education nonprofit Rock for Kids is launching an eBay auction of autographed 8x10 photos from 150 bands, including The Temptations, Pat Benatar, The Village People, Nickel Creek, Naughty By Nature, Ben Folds and more. Bid early and often to win your favorites. Bidding starts at $8.10 and proceeds benefit the charity that brings music education to at-risk youth in Chicago.

The Opposite of Robin Hood?

The Pritzkers' Hyatt Hotels Corp. is receiving a $5.2 million TIF as part of the Harper Court redevelopment project on 53rd Street. The seven schools surrounding the TIF district are losing $3.4 million from their budgets -- which happens to be the about the amount that CPS loses in property taxes because of the TIF. Meanwhile, Penny Pritzker serves on the CPS board. Curtis Black explains.

Because it Snows Here

WBEZ's Curious City answers the question, is salt mined under Chicago, and if not, why is there a huge Morton's Salt warehouse here?

Chicago's Top Tech

Built In Chicago doubled their list of Chicago's biggest digital companies to 100 this year (previously). Google/Motorola Mobility, Groupon and CareerBuilder top the list; Forbes' Kelly Reid delves into the list.

Your Password is Safe

From potential employers, anyway. Gov. Quinn signed into law a measure forbidding companies from requesting Facebook and other social media passwords of employees and applicants.

Motorola Mobility's Major Move

Crain's delves deeper into Motorola Mobility's move to the Merchandise Mart (previously), including how it'll affect Libertyville's economy.

Bleeding Heart Bleeding Out, Redux

Grub Street reports that Bleeding Heart Bakery has placed a Craigslist ad liquidating its Belmont store this weekend, likely spelling the end of the controversial bakery empire. (Food Network chef coats and other items are up on eBay.) The anonymous anti-BHB blog claims eviction notices have been received for both the bakery's current locations. Meanwhile, the former BHB West Town location reopens as the West Town Bakery & Diner this weekend. UPDATE: BHB posted on Facebook on Friday that they are closing August 5.

Motorola Mobility is Going Mobile

Motorola Mobility is moving its Libertyville office to the top four floors of the Merchandise Mart in order to be closer to Google HQ -- and 1871 as well.

Business in Chicago's Deadliest Neighborhood

Crain's talks to business owners in Austin about their struggle to stay afloat amid the worst of this summer's violence and crime. UPDATE: Whet Moser ran the numbers to figure out which neighborhood is the deadliest per capita.

Putting Kids to Work

Jobs for Youth Chicago is an organization helping low-income people aged 17 to 24 find work in professional environments. If you're looking for a young go-getter, give them a call.

More than Curiously Strong

This month's Dwell features important women designers, and among those featured are the local collaborators of Quite Strong.

What 2,500 Meals a Day Yields

Forbes lists Bob Chinn's Crab House in Wheeling as the highest grossing restaurant in the US. It earns $24 million a year in food alone.

Home Values Up

While not so good for buyers, the many, many homeowners who've seen their property values crater will be happy to hear that local home prices are finally on the rise. UPDATE: Reader Juan-Pablo Velez shared on Twitter a map of housing prices year over year; Cook County's been in the negative since 2006.

Leave Your Seals and Croft at Home

Laurie's Planet of Sound has an informal list of what used CDs you'll never find at their store.

Big City, Brighter Lights

Shopping complexes like Water Tower Place, Northbridge and 900 N. Michigan could get flashing LED signage under a new ordinance before City Council.

Free Coworking Fridays

Still need to get some work done during casual Fridays, but don't want to do it on the couch? Coworking space Enerspace is offering free space on Fridays this summer; just email ahead to reserve.

Well, I Guess it Still Refreshes

Speaking of the Trib's business practices, its keyword based Google ads generated this recent gem in an article about potentially questionable chemical additives in foreign Coca-Cola formulations.

Tribune Article

Depends on Who You Ask

McDonald's has low customer satisfaction ratings but is a "highly respected" company.

Fear the Brow™

Chicago native and college basketball star Anthony Davis told CNBC: "I don't want anyone to try to grow a unibrow because of me and then try to make money off of it."

The Joys of Predictive Analytics

Are you a Mac user? Do you use Orbitz? If so, the Chicago-based company probably didn't steer you to the best deals.

Get Cooking on a Business Plan

Want to open a restaurant? The City has made it a little easier with the Restaurant Start-Up Program.

The Dot-Whatever Land Rush

McDonald's, Allstate, Abbott and other big Chicagoland companies are snagging custom TLDs; watch for http://www.imlovinit.mcd and http://yourein.goodhands on your browser in 2013.

Chicago's got a CityMap

CityMaps, which drops logos and business names onto the map for your shopping (or landmark-spotting) convenience, launched in Chicago today.

citymapschicago.png

Rahm's Resources for Restaurants

As part of his strategy to streamline business licensing and stimulate business development, Mayor Emanuel's launching a new Restaurant Start-Up Program.

Indie Goes Corporate

First it was the Gap. Now Threadless has teamed up with Bed Bath + Beyond.

Your Local Pooper Scooper

Ravenswood-based Poopbags.com sells biodegradable, compostable bags for cleaning up after your dog.

I Got My Dog

Want to make sure everyone knows you got a real "Chicago dog" in Chicago? This tee on Fab.com proudly states the fact for all to see.

Live Futures Trading Goes Smoothly

The CBOT trading pit was a little fuller than usual yesterday as traders prepared for an unusual "live" announcement of corn, soybean and wheat futures while trading was still in session.

Posner: US Patent Law is Dysfunctional

UofC professor Judge Richard Posner stepped into some controversial territory last week when he threw out a patent dispute between Apple and Motorola Mobility, and said in passing on his blog that the patent system is dysfunctional.

Read Posner's decision in Case: 1:11-cv-08540, Apple Inc. & NEXT Software Inc. vs. Motorola Inc. & Motorola Mobility, Inc., below.

Posner Order

Dig Under The Couch Cushions

If you can scrape together $32 million, the 14,260-square foot penthouse at Trump Tower -- the western hemisphere's highest residence, and the most expensive property in Chicago -- is all yours.

Wrigleyville Hotel Project Escapes Foreclosure

The controversial and beleaguered hotel-retail-residential project in Wrigleyville has gotten a(nother) financial reprieve.

Planes, Trains, Automobiles and a House

So you don't have the money for John Hughes' house, but maybe you can purchase Steve Martin's house from Planes, Trains and Automobiles ... for $1.8 million.

Where to Get it High & Tight

Belmont Barbershop and Joe's Barbershop make Details' list of the best barbershops in America.

Membership has its Privileges

London-based private club and hotel chain Soho House will be opening a Chicago outpost in 2014, along with Barcelona, Istanbul, Mumbai and Toronto.

Stitching His Bitching

Want to buy an embroidered Kanye West tweet?

Dining a NATO Casualty

Perhaps not surprisingly, the "OMG stay away from downtown!" hysteria during the NATO Summit hurt downtown restaurants -- as well as some far from the action.

Meet the 2 Percenters

Minority contract fraud has a new trick: pass-through companies known as "2 percenters" for the cut they take for their services.

Chicago's Power Ranking

There are lots of rankings of cities' global influence, and Chicago is always near the top. A new study from the McKinsey Global Institute takes all the other ones and totals them up for an aggregate rating. Chicago still looks good.

Coal Fired Power Plants Closing Early

As of September, Chicago won't be the only major U.S. city with coal fired power plants, because Midwest Generation is closing Fisk and Crawford ahead of schedule.

A Ninja with a Cause

Shawnimals' newest ninja doll pays homage to Remmy, the dog of owners Shawn and Jen, who is recovering from injuries stemming from a brutal dog attack earlier this spring. A quarter of the proceeds will be donated to the Logan Square Dog Park.

Sears and the Past Tense

Crain's strolls through Sears' past, present and future in a lengthy feature about the company "where America shopped."

Flying the Unfriendly Website

Contract negotiations between United Airlines and the pilots union might get a little tense now that the union has launched TheUnfriendlySkies.org.

Coming Soon: The Vintage Garage

As AON moves out of the Uptown neighborhood this summer, the neighborhood is gaining another type of commerce. The company's staff parking structure on Broadway (near Argyle) will be utilized as a part-time vintage market from June-October, with vendors selling straight from their methods of transportation on the third Sunday of each month.

Wirtz is Rolling Out the Barrels

Rocky Wirtz is no doubt happy that his Blackhawks are in the playoffs, but Crain's reports that he's really excited about the state-of-the-art distribution center he's building for Wirtz Beverage Illinois.

Pulled Herself Up By Her Jump Rings

Have you wondered what a $1 million business really looks like? If so, then check out local entrepreneur Rebeca Mojica, owner of Blue Buddha Boutique. She was profiled by U.S. News & World Report as one of five business owners who turned $1,000 into $1 million. That's a lot of little metal rings, folks.

Put Your Bird on the CHIRP Record Fair

This weekend's CHIRP Record Fair has a few tables available for record hawkers, crafters, and doodad sellers to set up shop; contact them if you're interested.

Where to Work

Centro, Tasty Catering and Performics top Crain's list of the best places to work in Chicagoland.

More Bad News for GRPN

Groupon's shooting star is crashing to earth, it seems, at least as far as Wall Street is concerned. Investors have filed a lawsuit, claiming the company made misleading statements in its IPO, and the SEC is investigating its accounting practices. Meanwhile, Chicago magazine offers up some Groupons we'll never see.

Chicago Still Ranks Globally

Chicago comes in seventh on the 2012 Global Cities Index from AT Kearney and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, falling one spot down from 2010. Read the report here (PDF).

Don't Leave That New iPad at Home

If you're itching to stylishly transport that new iPad or maybe an iPhone or MacBook Air or Pro, check out the lovely "Biblio" handmade covers offered via Kickstarter by FoGB George Aye (he's shot some inspired photos at Pitchfork over the years for Transmission) and David Hull. The sweetness is in the video on the campaign page (also after the jump). See other GB-curated Kickstarter campaigns.

Down at the Convention Center, Yeah

Chicago has lured the annual Car Wash Show away from Las Vegas for 2014.

Bring Back Storefront Aparments

Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno wants to make it easier for business owners to live in the backs of their shops or other work spaces.

Infinite Recursive Kickstarters

Entrepreneur Eric Moneypenny needs your help to buy New York based coundsourcing incubator Kickstarter. On March 19 a listing for Moneypenny to buy Kickstarter went live on Kickstarter. Moneypenny values the hot company at $19 billion. Backer rewards include a pizza party with Moneypenny at Kickstarter HQ. (Take a look at our curated page to see some local projects that actually have a chance in hell of succeeding.)

The Bionic Wrench Man

Crain's profiles Dan Brown, the inventor of the Bionic Wrench and other innovative hand tools.

Trump Talks Trump Tower

The Donald visited his namesake tower this week and talked about the strength of the River North neighborhood and what's going on with all that empty retail space in his building. In other Trump Tower news, Derrick Rose is its newest resident.

Two Magnificent Miles

26th Street in Little Village generates more sales tax revenue for Chicago than any strip outside of The Magnificent Mile.

Slim, Trim and Underpaid

Wanting to make itself attractive to a new buyer, The Reader will be laying off staffers and reducing salaries, as explained in a memo this week from publisher Alison Draper and CFO Tammy Bailey. UPDATE: No layoffs have been announced; the original linked story at Poynter has been corrected.

Go Downtown for NATO

The head of the NATO event welcoming committee recently met with business owners to provide a new level of details about planning and clearly asked for people to head downtown during the NATO meeting.

Pay for Deals

Groupon rolled out its VIP program in Chicago and five other cities this week. For $30 a year, you get first dibs on deals, access to closed deals and more.

One does not Simply Walk into MJ's House

Crain's tells you how to get in for a look at Michael Jordan's mansion, for sale for $29 million. Short answer: you probably won't, and you couldn't tell anybody about it if you did.

Credibility Gap

Gap recently started selling Threadless-designed t-shirts on their website. The Reader makes a case for and against the move -- is Threadless losing its credibility?

Buying Only Black

Maggie Anderson, founder of the Empowerment Experiment, spent a year shopping only at black-owned businesses. The result was a book, Our Black Year, which came out last month.

Small Biz Marketing Contest

Tomorrow is your last chance to enter the City Treasurer's Small Business Online Marketing Contest. If you did something cool online for your small business, you could win up to $2500.

That's Cash, not Flash

Cash mobs are out to help local businesses stay afloat in the slowly recovering economy. Keep an eye on @cashmobchicago for local plans.

Another Occupation at Republic Windows Site

Serious Materials, the company that took over the Republic Windows factory after the 2009 sit-in, says it is closing the Chicago plant immediately. In response, workers are occupying the site again, asking for more time to explore the plant's future. Updates are being posted to the Occupied Tribune site, where it is reported that the workers and management are making progress with their negotiations. UPDATE: An agreement has been reached to keep the plant open for 90 days to explore options for new ownership.

Towering Online

The Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats is launching a new Skyscraper database website. Here is Chicago's listing.

Cracks About Humboldt Park Earn Tipsy Cake Scorn

Humboldt Park activists are protesting outside of Tipsy Cake's Humboldt Park location today in response to owner Naomi Levine's comments about the neighborhood in a video interview with City Soles TV. (UPDATE: Owner Naomi Levine has issued an apology.)

Levine said she opened a Bucktown store because "there were just too many gunshots in the cakes" at the Humboldt bakery, and named a pastry the "Humboldt crack bar" because police officers would knock on the bakery door late at night asking for "crack."

In addition to the protestors, Yelpers have been heaping scorn on Levine for her comments, leaving dozens of one-star reviews on the bakery's listing.

Ferrara Pan in Talks to be Sold

Crain's reports that Ferrara Pan is in talks to be purchased by Farley's & Sathers Candy Co., with Salvatore Ferrara II becoming the CEO of the merged company. Ferrara's father and company chairman, Nello Ferrara, passed away earlier this month.

Get it on the Black Market

Black Mark-It is a new deal-a-day site specifically showcasing black-owned businesses in Chicago.

Been Out of Work Awhile

Crain's takes a look at how Illinois' long-term unemployment rate compares to neighboring states.

The Grid: The Mediated Plant

The newest installment of our documentary series The Grid examines how The Plant -- Chicago's vertical farm and food business incubator -- has been represented in the media.

Let the City Keep You Warm

A Brooklyn business will make you a quilt embroidered with part of the Chicago street grid for $360 (ouch). They can also make you a baby blanket.

773-202-LUNA to Become 800-588-EMPIRE

Empire Today bought Luna Carpet. No word yet on whether the catchy phone number will remain. The companies will continue to be run separately, so Luna's famous jingle will continue to echo in your brain.

Luna Carpet was founded in 1958. Empire Today was founded in 1959 as Empire Plastic Covers, and got into carpet in 1965. Details of the purchase were not disclosed; both companies are privately held.

In 2007, NBC 5 did a story on Luna's company history and its memorable jingle:

Laugh Factory Chicago Wants You (To Serve Drinks)

Here's some even more good news for you job seekers: the new Chicago branch of LA's Laugh Factory comedy club is hiring all positions. Canadian superstar Russell Peters will headline the club's inaugural voyage Feb. 23-26th.

To be Demolished: 1340 W. George St.

The newest building featured in To be Demolished is a frame residence located at 1340 W. George St. The owner's address is identical to the owner's address for the first demolished building in the project, 3549 N. Reta Ave.

Gorilla Tangos All the Way Down

Gorilla Tango Theatre is just the most visible portion of a vast Gorilla Tango empire -- an empire that has money to help creative projects in need.

Groupon Busted for Selling Snake Oil

Literally. The Chicago-based company got flak in the U.K. for trying to sell a discount on a "'Wrinkle Killer Snake Serum" whose health claims were unsubstantiated. You don't say?

Groupon Machine

Groupon is starting to roll out touchscreen kiosks around the city, which will feature regular deals as well as Groupon Now! offers for businesses in the machine's area. The kiosks will have a few other features (CTA tracker, news, 911), and we can expect to see around 100 pop up over the next three months.

One Possible Workforce Future

Crain's breaks down estimates of Illinois' employment characteristics in 2018 from a recent Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce report.

Join SMALL and Participate in "The People's Macy's"

Speaking of workforce development, the Public Media Institute is launching the Small Manufacturing Alliance (SMALL), and they want you to join. SMALL will promote and support local companies and individuals who make stuff: bikes, clothing, food, media, whatever. The first public event will be the SMALL Showroom, which will feature member products in the Co-Prosperity Sphere throughout May.

"This place has got everything"

Demolition permits were issued on Wednesday for everyone's favorite mall chase location, Dixie Square Mall.

Here's footage of the iconic chase being filmed.

Single Speed, Double Espresso

Grid Chicago got a sneak peek inside of coffee/bike shopHeritage Bicycles, opening on Jan. 28.

Pens, Check. Bookbag, Check. Books iPad?

IBooks 2, a digital textbook service from Apple, was unveiled today. The move, in collaboration with textbook market majority publishers Pearson PLC, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is likely to make Apple's iPad an education essential.

Pictures from Playboy's Streeterville Past

A small collection of family friendly photos from Playboy Enterprises Inc., that will be closing its Chicago headquarters and moving its employees to Los Angeles this April.

The Least Self-Aware Comment of the Week?

Yesterday CBOE Holdings Inc. CEO Bill Brodsky criticized the state's dire financial situation after his company recently received an estimated $6 million in new state tax cuts.

Not Your Neighborhood Walgreens

The new Walgreens flagship store opened at 6:30am this morning at 151 N. State St. It's decidedly upscale compared to your typical pharmacy, replete with sushi counter, fine wine and microbrews, and even luxury cosmetics.

Drugstore Makeover

Starting tomorrow, shoppers, pedestrians and die-hard drugstore fans can check out the new "flagship" Walgreens at 200 N. State. Features include manicures, fresh sushi, smoothies, a barista and a humidor.

Renegade Handmade Down

Renegade Handmade, the shop run by the folks behind the Renegade Craft Show, is closing soon, a victim of the now-national fair's success.

Chicago's Social Media Successes?

Crain's today shares a list of local companies "doing social media right." Scott Smith thinks the list is a little misleading.

Sears Stores Spared in Illinois, For Now

The major retailer has released an initial list of 79 stores to close within the next year that excludes any mention of closings in the city and saves them from the same fate of the now, Willis Tower.

Sears Closes Up Shops

Sears Holdings plans to close more than 100 Sears and KMart stores after dismal holiday sales. Makes you wonder if the tax rebate was to keep them in the state or keep them in business.

Sharing a Love of Convenience Stores

Apparently there is a publication that is "The source for convenience store news online," and it recently featured a road trip story surveying convenience stores between Chicago and Phoenix, Arizona.

What's the Company Like?

Glassdoor.com is an interesting peek into the pros and cons of businesses from an employee's perspective.

Sun-Times Gets New Owners

It's official: A Chicago-based investment group inked a deal to purchase the Sun-Times. In related news, you can buy a major newspaper for "more than $20 million."

Not too Late to Shop

Two dozen Lincoln Park stores are rewarding you tomorrow for your last-minute holiday shopping.

Bid on a Bit of the Bakery

"Punk rock pastry" purveyor Bleeding Heart Bakery recently announced that the Roscoe Village location is moving down Belmont to a new spot beside Schubas, but they can't quite take everything with them. Bid high on eBay and you can be the owner of the shop's 16-foot neon sign (local pickup only).

Unique Holiday Cards

You should probably have started on these already, but just in case, here are a few cool Chicago-Themed holiday cards.

Chicago Holiday by st&
Two pizza themed cards
• The Letter Betty has Chicago flag cards for Christmas, Hanukkah or neither
• Starshaped Press has this sweet Hannukah card
• Steel Petal Press offers a mix and match option

Scottie Sues To Save Face

Scottie Pippen is suing several media outlets for libel, in a suit that claims the outlets produced content stating that the former Bulls star had "lost it all."

Belly Hopefully not a Flop

You might have spotted Bellyflop iPad terminals at certain shops around town, but the customer loyalty program made its official debut today, under a new name: just Belly.

Yule (Need to Look Elsewhere for Those) Logs

Citing, among other things, an "inability to operationally meet the seasonal needs of our customers," Rolf's Patisserie is closed. Effective immediately. (Maybe it's because, thanks to last year's food poisoning outbreak, the at-a-glance Google details are, um, less than appetizing.)

Unique Holiday Gifts, Pt. 21

Give the gift of live music this year (maybe even to yourself) with the first ever FOB (Friends of the Bottle) year-long passes to the Empty Bottle. For $150 you can get into most shows (any under $10) for all of 2012 with a FOB Pass. Upgrade to the FOB GOLD Pass for $500, and get into each and every show. Buyers also get special perks including no line waiting, a t-shirt, discounts on food and drink, and more.

Unique Holiday Gifts, Pt. 20

If you have a chunk of change to spend, on yourself, or someone on your "Nice" list, why not get them everything local label Numero Group has to offer. For a rare treat, Numero's entire catalog (on either vinyl or CD) can be yours if you have the shelf space, and the cabbage with just one click of the mouse. A sample of what you'll receive includes Light On the South Side, the Syl Johnson Complete Mythology, and The Boddie Recording Company box sets but it really doesn't stop there. [Also, watch the label's website (and Facebook) for more deals as Christmas approaches.]

Building Harper Court

Wonder what's the latest with all that construction going on down in Hyde Park? So do we. Here's a peek.

A Foreclosure That May Not be a Typical "Deal"

The 21,000-square-foot Schweppe mansion is back on the market for $12 million after a foreclosure.

Sara Lee Moving to Chicago

Granted, it's less the corn dogs and pie end of Sara Lee, and more the officey-headquarters one, but still a big job-creating win.

City-Sponsored Microloans

The City of Chicago has began to back microloans -- small sums of money lent for business initiatives that would have trouble being financed by regular banks. The idea has helped millions in third world countries over the past few decades, andEmanuel hopes to help over 250 with the $1 million currently allocated.

USPS Closing Chicago Processor

The USPS plans to close 252 mail processing centers, including its Irving Park processing and distribution center near O'Hare Airport and eight others in Illinois. The Trib claims that the closures will mostly affect minority workers. (No word yet whether any of the endangered post offices will close.)

The High Cost of Driving

Congratulations Chicago, you've been paying over three dollars a gallon for gas for a full year now, with the highest area average in May of $4.469, according to AAA.

The Latest 40 Under 40

The 2011 Crain's Chicago Business 40 Under 40 class has been announced. The list includes some literally and figuratively related inductees: brothers Jerrod and RJ Melman, GrubHub's two co-founders and the three co-founders of Akira.

His Amazing Fantasy

Chimera's Comics had some good news for a recent customer: A comic he found in the attic was the first appearance of Spiderman and worth around $12,000.

Cyber Giving Monday

Carlo Garcia of Living Philanthropic (previously) proposes that instead of simply shopping online today, you also make a charitable contribution. He's putting his money where his mouth is and donating $5 every hour to a different charity.

A Dozen Buttons

Busy Beaver started its 12 Days of Giveaways today.

Have a Local Black Friday

Local First Chicago would like to encourage you to Unwrap Chicago by shopping at local, independently owned businesses this holiday season. (Incidentally, we're one of those.)

Careful Buying Kids Toys

The Illinois Public Interest Research Group released its annual report on toxic and potentially dangerous toys -- and for the first time included loud toys on the list.

Here's the Illinois PIRG report. The toy list starts on page 17.

Illinois PIRG Trouble in Toyland

The Illinois Attorney General's Office also released its safe shopping guide [PDF] this week, alerting consumers to recalled toys that may still be found in some stores or resale shops.

2011 Safe Shopping Guide.

Picture This

Minuteframe is a new business FoGB Scott Robbin started with his dad: get a photo framed and shipped for $20 flat.

Unique Holiday Gifts, Pt. 1

What do you get for the slightly odd friend who has everything? A chalkboard primate skull perhaps, in either human or gorilla. By iamhome.

AT&T Opens Concept Store

The first of these experimental Apple-inspired retail outlets is set to open in the Northwest suburbs, complete with a Learning Center, Solutions Center, Small Business Center, and, God willing, a chewy chocolate-covered center.

Best of Chicago Workplaces

The Tribune lists the area's best places to work, complete with size divisions, statistics and special awards.

Shorting Groupon not the Deal of the Day

Shorting those newly minted Groupon shares is hard and expensive to do right now, but that doesn't mean some won't try.

The End of Borders and the Future of Books

In which Business Week assembles the company's entire timeline of mistakes.

Cheap Trick's Gonna Raise Hell on Motor Row

Cheap Trick plans to open a new space on Motor Row with a restaurant, radio station, performance space and a museum.

Leg Lamps & Side Tables

The Walter E. Smithe brothers have released a series of commercials in recreating scenes from A Christmas Story -- tied in with the musical version of the film that's running at the Chicago Theatre Dec. 14-30.

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Google/Groupon Turf War

Less than a week after Groupon's IPO, Google Offers has come to town with a deal for Goose Island Wrigleyville.

Sam Zell Getting Richer from Incompetency

The owner of the Tribune Company may get a $225 million payout from bankruptcy rulings.

An Ace Goes Down

Andersonville's Marx Ace Hardware, one of the oldest members of the local hardware co-op (it claims to be "the Original Ace" though that's been disputed) is going out of business.

United States of X: Opportunity Edition

Cook County comes out just OK, and Illinois is pretty average on Be the Change's Opportunity Index. [via]

Percussion Explosion!

Drummers from bands as huge as Smashing Pumpkins, King Crimson and Styx performed at the grand opening Vic's Drum Shop on Saturday.

Making a Bank Transfer

Saturday, Nov. 5 is Bank Transfer Day, a movement to switch from the major national banks to credit unions and local banks. I Know Chicago shares some resources for you to make the switch.

Let's Hear It For the Store

Matador Records has a keen blog piece gushing about the emergence of awesome indie record stores while others are sadly closing. They give some love to Chicago-area stores Saki (Chicago-Logan Square), Cyklopx (Forest Park), and to Permanent Records' expansion out west from Chicago.

Behind the Groupon Green

Business Insider's behind-the-scenes look at Groupon's management may be the best article on the company yet. Meanwhile, daily deal aggregator YipIt digs into the Groupon investor roadshow.

Pumpkin & Yam Facial

What better way to start off the holiday season than with a pumpkin and yam facial? Mitchell Dental Spa is offering 50 percent off the treatment for the entire month of November.

Chicago Diesel and Peanut Butter Prices Increase

If you've ever wondered how BP's Whiting refinery affects fuel prices: It is temporarily reducing its ultra-low-sulfur diesel capacity in half, prompting a 9 cent increase in the fuel's local futures market price compared to New York's. In other local commodities news, a weak peanut harvest caused suburban Kraft (and just about everyone else) to increase its peanut butter prices by 40%. So, yeah, stuff's getting more expensive.

Trimming the Fat Before the Coming Out Party

Groupon is "replacing" 10 percent of its sales force ahead of its Nov. 4 IPO. (Share your thoughts on the IPO in Fuel.)

Light the Way Out

Urban Remains has a great collection of vintage exit lights -- including a couple from Chicago State Hospital, aka Dunning Asylum. Perfect for your haunted house!

Republicans Not Sold on Financial Exchange Tax Breaks

In a move that may demonstrate the reach of the Tea Party movement, Illinois Senate Republicans do not currently support a bill to reduce the tax burden of the CME and CBOE

What the Groupon IPO Means for Early Investors

Crain's details how the Groupon IPO should yield a pretty good chunk of change for a small group of people.

Paying for the Discount

While Groupon readies its IPO once again, CouponCabin just got a $54 million VC investment.

Meet Move-Tastic!

The fifth installment of our short film series, The Grid, sprints through the city with "Chicago's premiere athletic moving force," Move-Tastic!

Smashing Groupons

Groupon teamed up with ex-Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin to produce that Ferris Buehler screening at Wrigley, tonight's Umphrey's McGee show at Lincoln Hall and another event in November. Crain's talked with Chamberlin about the partnership.

Today's Friendly Headline Writing Tip

It's probably best to avoid the word "strike" in headlines about union events when a strike isn't happening.

We're Number One!

This time, we're number one in business climate.

Comb Your Hair the Chicago Way

Two Chicago friends recently launched Chicago Comb Co., which makes some fine looking combs out of single blocks of stainless steel.

Chicago Tech's Big 50

Tech community site Built in Chicago released its first Top 50 Digital Companies list, based on number of Chicago-based employees. Topping the list are Groupon, CareerBuilder, Navteq, Classified Ventures, Orbitz, Echo Global Logistics, Restaurant.com, OptionsXpress, InnerWorkings and Thinkorswim.

Buy One of the Best

The Elysian Hotel was just named the seventh best hotel in the world by Conde Nast Traveler. That might make it a little more appealing to whoever buys it -- the hotel went up for sale last month.

Another Tech Innovator Goes to the Electronic Ever-After

Robert W. Galvin, the man who led Motorola's massive expansion from the late 1950s until the 1990s, died in Chicago on Tuesday.

Site Your Business

World Business Chicago now offers a "site selector" map to help businesses identify good spots to be in the city. Seems sort of like Walk Score for industry.

Out of State Republicans Want Illinois Jobs

Crains reports that Sears recently met with the Perry and Kasich administrations and the CME is meeting with the Daniels administration.

Shop Local, Shop Indie

It's still pretty early for holiday shopping, but Local First Chicago wants to encourage you to commit to shopping at local independently owned stores this year.

RIP Moo & Oink

Moo & Oink closed this weekend after 150 years in business.

Behind Walgreens' Makeover

Time Out looks at the process IDEO underwent in developing Walgreens' new store design.

Chicago's New Ad Network

The Chicago Independent Ad Network launched today, representing 15 of the city's news sites -- including Gapers Block.

Another Groupon Exec Quits

The company's track record gets worse. COO Margo Georgiadis' resignation was recently announced; she is returning to her former employer, Google, after five short months at Groupon.

Name, Occupation, Quirk, Renter

Apartment site Domu's ads have met with amusement and derision -- and now you can be part of the fun. Apply to be a "Domulebrity" and you can become a part of the 2012 ad campaign. [via]

Chewing Scraps, Spitting Energy

The Plant, which we've written about in Drive-Thru, won a $1.5 million grant from the state to install a renewable energy system that will allow the vertical farm and food business incubator to go off the grid completely.

Another Honor for Chicago Architecture

Chicago architect Jeanne Gang is among the 22 2011 MacArthur "Genius Grant" recipients. She's best known for Aqua, but she's been involved in a bunch of other interesting projects too.

"No coffee, no knick-knacks, just books."

In Book Club, Megan Doherty kicks of a three-part feature on the Seminary Co-op Bookstore with a look at its history as it turns 50.

Working Hard to Retain Some Advertisements

Today the Trib is among the papers revealing iCircular, a new advertising platform for newspaper apps developed by the AP.

Who Can You Trust if You Can't Trust Another Anthroblogger?

A Chicago-based member of the vaunted "Anthroblogging" community (e.g. Effortless Anthropologie) is accused of running a personal shopping service as a scam, although she says she just dropped the ball.

Still the Wizards

Stern Pinball is still the only pinball company left in the world. (Previously.)

Major Downtown Gym Closes, Perhaps Temporarily

Lakeshore Athletic Club, Chicago's craziest looking gym, is closed after its electricity was turned off for nonpayment. An announcement on its website indicates it'll reopen at an unknown date, but it's also well underwater on its mortgage, so we'll see how that goes.

Remember the National Louis Groupon Deal?

18 people took the school up on the offer.

Internet Sales Tax Collection Fails

Illinois passed a law this spring that forced local businesses to collect tax on Internet sales. So far, it hasn't done much to increase tax revenue.

Groupon Off the Market?

In the latest twist in Groupon's IPO saga, WSJ reports the company has canceled its investor roadshow and is reevaluating its IPO date "on a week by week basis" due to the market's volatility.

Groupon Exec Andrew Mason May Have Stumbled Into SEC PR Rules Quagmire, IPO Delay Possible

New trouble for hometown giant Groupon, this time self-inflicted. According to a report in The New York Times, Groupon chief executive Andrew Mason may have broken SEC rules preventing a company from attempting to "condition the market by hyping its stock" by issuing an internal memo recently. In it, he defends against media reports about the company's numbers, a balance sheet that will no doubt be adversely affected if Groupon's IPO is put on hold.

Get Those Tasks Done

TaskRabbit, a crowd-sourced errand service similar to Zipments (previously) and Zaarly, is coming to Chicago soon. (You could always go the personal assistant route.)

Use the Floss, Luke

TheForce.Net reports that Lucasfilm has licensed Chicago-based Sunstar Americas to produce Star Wars themed toothbrushes. This isn't the first time such a product existed -- they go way back.

lightsabertoothbrush.jpg

Bartering for Dinner

If you've got something to offer, Fireside Restaurant might make you a deal.

Groupon Execs Dropping Like Flies

Only after two months on the job, the head of PR for Groupon has left the company, reportedly due to a clash over a leaked internal memo that Yoga-loving CEO Andrew Mason wrote that responded to critics of the company and claims that Groupon had far less money than believed. The company's sales chief was replaced last week; their former COO quit in March.

Furnishly

If you have a piece of used furniture you'd like to part with, or if you're looking to furnish your new (holy moving season, Batman!) place, check out local used furniture site Furnishly. Their site is far more visually attractive and helpful than Craigslist and has just the details you care about. And if you're looking to sell, they've got some great posting tips on their blog.

Homebrewers Take Note

And aspiring homebrewers as well- Brew Camp, recently opened at Belle Plaine and Lincoln, offers frequent classes for beginners and high quality ingredients for everyone.

Maria's Community Bar Celebrates Makeover Anniversary

Bridgeport favorite Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar announces a celebration of the one-year anniversary of its makeover on September 3 at both the bar and art space Co-Prosperity Sphere down the street.

Corporate Division

David Greising wonders what's up with Chicagoland companies splitting themselves in two.

Groupon's Future White Tower?

Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky are reportedly considering purchasing the Wrigley Building to house Groupon and the other companies they run. Meanwhile, the pre-IPO backlash against Groupon continues apace. UPDATE: WSJ reports there's no plan for Groupon to move into the Wrigley Building.

Feelin' on Yo Mortgage

R. Kelly's former Lakeview home changed owners (again).

The Incredible Hulk of Flea Markets

Wheaton hosts an all-night flea market tomorrow, with a bevy of odd celebrities scheduled to be in attendance (Lou Ferrigno, the guy who played the "Soup Nazi" on Seinfeld, etc.).

T-Shirts vs. Polos

The corporate cultures of Google and Motorola might not be a match made in heaven, the WSJ reports.

Regular Shipments of Cool Stuff

Lost Crates ships you a box of interesting things once a month, based on your personality type.

How Much is a Downtown Apartment?

Likely more expensive than ever.

High Design at a Discount

Chicago furniture designer Greta de Parry is featured today on Fab.com.

Stamp of Affection

One of the world's largest collections of rubber stamps, maintained by the owners of Stamp Francisco, was once in Ukrainian Village; it's now located in Gurnee.

Google is Buying Motorola Mobility

Libertyville based Motorola Mobility, the split handset division of Motorola, is being acquired by Google for about $12.5 billion, mostly in an effort to gain patents in order to compete with rival Apples iPhone. Google plans to run Motorola Mobility as a separate company and plans to keep its Android platform open.

From IPO to Chapter 11?

They haven't had their IPO yet, but Bnet's Jim Edwards has decided Groupon should just declare bankruptcy now.

Moo & Oink on Butcher Block

Moo & Oink, the 150-year-old meat butcher and grocery, faces liquidation if it can't find a buyer.

Candy and Restaurants Nearly Devoured by the G8

Two major trade shows have changed their annual show dates in order to accommodate next May's G8 summit and its security demands.

Haggle with Friends

VC firm Lightbank has invested in oBaz, a new "social haggling site" where you post what you want and they haggle a discount.

Not Necessarily a Good Record to Break

Monday's trading volume at the CBOE was record breaking. Unfortunately, the record dated to Friday, and both were major down days for the market.

Doggy Day-Trip

Newly launched Nature Dog takes dog-sitting a step further, offering your pooch "adventures" at the beach and in area forest preserves.

Custom Fitting

When you shop for jeans do you find the following options available? $60 jeans that are poorly made, wear quickly, and need tailoring to fit properly? $150+ jeans that are better made, wear well, and still need tailoring to fit properly? You're not alone. But for a $60 donation to a Kickstarter you'll get a pair of custom-fit jeans made right here in Chicago. Try getting that at The Gap. [via]

Out with the Old Style

Rumor has it that Old Style wants to drop its 61 year association with the Cubs.

Casting Illinois in Iron

On Re-Nest, they have a swell Etsy find: specialty cast-iron pans in the shape of Illinois. You can even load up on pans in the shape of other Midwestern states if you so desire.

Amazon Escalates its Deal War with Groupon

Amazon is creeping into Groupon's backyard: AmazonLocal -- basically a reskinning of LivingSocial, which the company part-owns -- quietly launched this week in Chicago.

What's the Deal?

The unusual accounting techniques in Groupon's IPO filing are being investigated by the SEC. The review may delay the IPO by three to six months.

The Green Bodysuit Guys

It's a classic business story: find a niche and dominate it. That's SuperFanSuits.com.

A View of our Walmart Future

The first Walmart Express -- the smaller store format proposed for Lakeview, River North and elsewhere -- makes its debut in Chatham today

Video Deal of the Day

ImIn.com (get it? I'm in?) puts a twist on the now old hat deal a day site: its offers come in video form.

Realizing Goldberg?

OK, enough about the Old Main Post Office; how about development plans for farther down the river?

Be a Part of the League

The League of Courteous Cyclists, that is. Today's the last day to pre-order a discounted t-shirt designed by local artist (and cyclist) Sarah Becan promoting bike etiquette. (We interviewed Sarah in Bookclub last year.)

Take Our Grain, Please

Chicago brewery (and FoGB) Half Acre is looking for some creative business ideas to use its spent grain. A lot of spent grain.

"His concept is that it is not big enough"

The owner of the Old Chicago Main Post Office thinks it's "not big enough," so he's planning on redeveloping the full site and nearby property with 16 million square feet of residential, entertainment, retail and hotel space, including the construction of the hemisphere's tallest building. See the full plans on the Booth Hansen website.

Baking in the 'Burbs

Bleeding Heart Bakery announced on Facebook that it is opening a new location in Elmhurst by the end of the summer. Afterwards, they "will be working with [their] partners and a team of other folks to figure out what to do next."

The Little Guys Get Organized

While the megachains make more inroads in the city, Little Independent is working to help indie shops in Chicago and the suburbs fight back.

A Cross-Stitch from God

Fans of the Blues Brothers have a new summer crafting project.

Comic Book Shop Saved by Comic Book Character

On July 27, Marvel will release a special issue of their Spider-Man comic book featuring Spidey saving Chicago Comics from destruction. UPDATE: The cover will be one of these (Thanks, Donovan!)

Poor Connection Rates

Evidently Chicago is the least friendly city for teleworking, according to a Microsoft survey. We can take solace in the fact that San Francisco and New York are on the list, too. [via]

Shop Wright with Champagne

The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust has launched a new store in the Rookery, and are celebrating with a Champagne and shopping event July 21. RSVP by the 19th. [via]

Competitive Small Businesses

Chicago-based startup ParkWhiz is competing in American Express OPEN's Big Break for Small Business contest to win a Facebook makeover and $20,000, and have until Saturday to get as many votes as they can. (There are two other Chicagoland competitors, too, from Gary and Dixon.)

The Crowdsourced Second Coming of Kozmo

Zipments, a service that allows you to post a delivery job (picking up something at your office and taking it to your accountant's, for instance), launched in Chicago yesterday.

Another Chapter in First Chicago's Saga

The most recent incarnation of First Chicago, the city's oldest bank, failed on Friday and was taken over by Wintrust.

Foreclosed Stock

There are more foreclosed-upon homes in Chicagoland than in any other major American city, a new report claims.

Partying in the Street Ain't Easy

Roscoe View Journal takes a look at the business of putting on a street festival through the lens of this weekend's Roscoe Village Burger Fest.

But Does the Carpet Match Them?

Local jewelery designer Ashley Scott's new line, "Drapes," is currently featured on fashion blog, Refiney 29.

How Do You Say "Hipster" in French?

Very soon, Chicago will have to share the Pitchfork Music Festival with another city, and another country. The venerable music fest just announced the launch of a 2-day Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris this October. Is this just the year for crossing the pond with awesome Chicago-born events? The Renegade Craft Fair has just opened up applications to a first ever London version of their massive craft show, also in October.

Losing Our Options

The Chicago Board Options Exchange is moving its trading operations to New Jersey to help it compete with high-frequency traders located on the East Coast.

To Your (Car) Door Service

Walgreens is piloting a "web pickup" service at many of its Chicago area stores. Basically, you place your order online and then they collect everything for you, although some locations will also offer curbside service.

The Things We Make

The A.V. Club's new series Cogs In The Machine will shed some light on what's being manufactured in Chicago. The first edition details the processing of material for fancy shoes and footballs by Horween Leather at the intersection of Ashland, Armitage and Elston.

Guess What Won't be Featured in a Local Broker's Ads?

R.J. O'Brien & Associates unwittingly handled millions of dollars from an al-Qaida member.

Someone Might Get Upset

Crain's reports that Illinois health insurance companies are raking in massive profits while dramatically increasing fees. For example, while Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois' profits have doubled since 2009, last year it increased its employer group plan prices 20% and is set to raise them 3% to 10% in the fall.

Buy the Chicago Board of Trade Building

Word has it that the CME Group put the iconic Chicago Board of Trade Building on the market.

Helping Out the Little Guy

Grub Street reports that the Grasstoots Collaborative is holding a bake sale in front of the Mercantile Exchange (20 South Wacker) today to benefit the CME Group, the parent company of the Merc who is threatening to leave the state unless Gov. Quinn gives them some special tax considerations.

Discounts for the Family

Qpon is a new deal-a-day site aimed at LGBT Chicagoans.

McJobs

The month of May saw 54,000 jobs created in the United States. According to Mother Jones, up to 30,000 of them were created by Chicago-based McDonald's. I wonder if they'll have summer recession McSpecials for the people they didn't hire?

PBR Buyout Canned

Remember a couple years ago some guys tried to crowdsource the purchase of Pabst Brewing Company? They got slapped with a cease-and-desist order by the SEC, some months after shutting down the attempt. [via]

Ipsento Reopens

Bucktown coffee drinkers, your world is back on its axis: Ipsento reopened this morning after The Man shut them down for six long days.

Another Indoor Mall Demolished

The first enclosed mall in the Chicago area is transitioning into an outdoor mall -- and leaving its 18,000 person bomb shelter behind.

Hot Dog! A Lawsuit

Vienna Beef is suing Red Hot Chicago, a rival that happens to be owned by the grandson of one of Vienna's founders.

Ipsento Closed Temporarily

Bad news for Bucktown coffee drinkers: Local favorite Ipsento (2035 N. Western) closed suddenly yesterday after an Illinois Department of Revenue official showed up to revoke its business license because of unpaid taxes. Store owners said today they're "working hard" to right the ship and reopen soon.

Here's the explanation they posted on their Facebook page:

Ipsento is temporarily closed. In 2010, we mistakenly overlooked the filing and paying of nine months of sales tax. We have been current with this years sales tax. However, to date, we have been unable to pay the lump some [sic] we fell behind. For this reason, the state revoked our business license yesterday. We are working hard to get the license back...and have been told by our tax expert lawyers that this shouldn't be a problem. We originally thought we could turn this around right away. But that's not how the Department of Revenue works. Our hope is to re-open next Monday afternoon. We'll keep you informed as we find out more. We REALLY appreciate how supportive you all have been!

DHH on GRPN

37signals' David Heinemeier Hansson has his doubts about Groupon's IPO.

Groupon Going Public

Groupon has filed for an initial public offering to raise $750 million. Meanwhile, CEO Andrew Mason revealed plans for a travel deal site with Expedia during his talk at the D9: All Things Digital conference.

A Step Up from a Staycation

Daycations wants to help you take a short trip to another part of the city.

Own the Nation's Tallest Building

The investors who own the Willis Tower are thinking about putting it on the market.

Green Bag Ads

The Plastic Bag Solution aims to kill two birds with one stone: provide stores and restaurants with an ecological alternative to plastic bags, and give advertisers another surface upon which to print their message.

Unoriginal Outfitters Redux

Urban Outfitters responded to local jeweler tru.che's accusation (previously) that the company ripped off her "United World of Love" pendant design, aided in part by Regretsy's roundup of similar designs on Etsy. UPDATE: Further thoughts from Regretsy.

So Long, Corporate Campuses, We Hardly Knew Ye

A Crain's special report explores at the slow decline of corporate campuses.

Unoriginal Outfitters

Urban Outfitters ripped off local jeweler tru.che's "World of Love" pendant designs.

Thinking Ahead to Halloween

Fantasy Costumes already has a Rahm Emanuel rubber mask, available for $39.99 online. Shop employees told the Trib the store's owner figured Emanuel would win the mayoral election and got a jump on designing the mask.

U of C Students Protest Housekeeper Firings

A coalition of nine U of C student groups is working to stop a contract change that could lead to the firing of 56 U of C staff housekeepers. Their latest effort was a demonstration on Monday.

Kumbuya, My Lord

Proving they're willing to willing to take a step in the wrong direction in more than just publishing, the folks behind The Printed Blog have launched Kumbuya, which rolls the Groupon concept back to when it was a spinoff of The Point.

I'll Buy That for a Dollar

Groupon is celebrating the launch of Groupon Now with a bunch of $1 deals around the city this Friday -- available, naturally, only through the new service.

Brew-lanthropy

Bouncing back from last year's fire, Blackstone Bicycle Works is the first recipient of Seattle's Best Coffee new Brew-lanthropy Award. Blackstone won a break room makeover, a filmed documentary, $5000, and a year's supply of coffee and hot chocolate, for the kids who don't want to stunt their growth.

One Pizza with a Side of Civil Disobedience, Please

The WSJ reports the CEO of now bankrupt Giordano's had to be threatened with sheriff action before he and his family members would vacate the company's headquarters yesterday.

Midwest Style Thriftiness

While far from comprehensive, the descriptions of thrift stores written by the stylish men of The MidwestStyle is a great basic overview of some of the better thrift stores in Chicago. They shop and write about other places, too.

Felony Franks Wants More Time in Court

The owner of Felony Franks, the ex-convict employing hot dog joint that made headlines when it opened in 2009, is suing the city because it hasn't granted him a sign license.

Insta-Deals

Groupon just launched a new way to get in on deals nearby — Groupon Now. It lets you search online (at a computer or via your smartphone) for deals near your address or zipcode (currently only in Chicago). Once you buy the deal, you'll only have a narrow window of hours that day (displayed on the deal before purchase) in which to use it. Want to find a place with a dining bargain near the art museum, or a deal on a guided tour to distract, er, entertain the in-laws? This might be a great on-the-go solution for the last-minute planner.

Shawnimals Shares Social Media Tips

Shawn Smith of Shawnimals fame is the featured interview this week on the Constant Contact "Office Hours" podcast. In it, Shawn shares his experiences with reaching out to his customers with a range of social media — a task made harder when lacking a brick and mortar storefront.

Clicking for Tickets

After their wildly successful Groupons for North Coast Music Festival passes (last summer as well as this past April), it was just a matter of time until the community-sourced deals site broke even more new ground with live show ticketing. To be launched in time for users to snag tickets for summer music festivals, GrouponLive will be a new live event collaboration between Groupon and Live Nation.

Daley the Pitchman

A new Walter E. Smithe commercial pays tribute to the outgoing mayor. It features TV anchors, Bears players, actors, even former President George W. Bush -- and, oddly, Mayor Daley himself.

Fair Trade Fair

It's World Fair Trade Day, and Chicago is celebrating.

Saving Homes One Mediation at a Time

Cook County's home foreclosure mediation program has kept 216 homeowners in their homes since it was created last year.

That's not a Knife; THIS is a Knife!

The Daily Mail has quite a photo illustration of what we have to look forward to this summer when teenage unemployment rates may be at record highs.

That's Awesome

Chicago now has a local chapter of the Awesome Foundation. The foundation offers monthly $1,000 grants, no strings attached, for ideas they deem worthy -- and the call for May submissions is on now.

Half Off Brown Elephants

If you want to get your thrifty shop on and help out a worthwhile cause, get yourself into any of the three Brown Elephant resale stores this weekend and save 50% off your entire purchase. Proceeds benefit the Howard Brown Health Center.

Closing Oprah's Closet Doors

The Oprah Winfrey Show won't be the only Oprah enterprise vanishing at the end of May: her two Chicago stores will also close at the end of the month.

Dealbook

Facebook launched Deals today, taking aim at Groupon and other daily deal sites with its 600 million members.

Pouring Gas on Sprawl's Wounds

The NY Times recently reported on a developer in far north suburban Richmond who's giving away cars with his homes. Grist's Sarah Goodyear couldn't help but note the irony of enticing folks with a car for the 50-mile commute when gas is so expensive.

LINKing Farmers Markets

Good news for low-income Illinois residents who use LINK cards — Chicago farmers markets doubled the number of sites where they now accept the card as payment for fresh produce. Especially important in an area hampered by food deserts, this expanding service hopefully will get healthy food into more homes. There are also participating markets around the state. Chicago farmers markets open on May 12, 2011.

Lose Weight? Not so Fast

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is suing a local business, accusing it of running fake news sites in order to promote açai berries and other dubiously effective weight loss products.

11th Peg is Free

Startup Pegmo hopes to replace the loyalty cards at local businesses with a technological one, in which interactions earn you "pegs" toward a reward.

The Grid: Textile Discount Outlet

Today we release the second feature in GB's short film series, The Grid. "Textile Discount Outlet" roams the aisles in the Pilsen fabric destination. As fabric cutter Chris says, "Bring some trail mix and a bottle of water."

Meat for a Better Tomorrow

Apparently there was more to that Crain's ham map than met the eye. Consumers are still buying meat, which means we're on our way out of this recession.

Minorities not so Advantaged by Walmart's Hiring

One of Walmart's main selling points to City Council was that it would generate local jobs by hiring minority contractors to build its Austin store. Crain's investigated the store's construction and found that a major portion of the work was done by non-minority owned firms and employees, and the minority owned general contractor was bankrupted by the process. When added to the Chicago Reporter's analysis of Walmart's hiring, the company's early job promises are looking pretty unfulfilled.

Deal Site for Deals

Daily deal site YouSwoop is launching SwooperMarket, a place to swap deals you can't or don't want to use for some reason. It'll also offer some "expired" deals at slightly higher prices for people who miss out on the first round.

Soaring Ceilings for a CVS

OurUrbanTimes takes a look inside the new occupant of the former Home Bank & Trust Building at Ashland and Division.

Big MacJob

McDonald's plans to hire 50,000 new employees, at all levels nationwide, all at once on April 19.

High Fee Fighter

As a consumer, you've probably shopped for a credit card and you know it is a pain. But it is even more of a pain for people who want to accept credit cards. Thanks to FeeFighters.com, that process is now a lot simpler. Which makes it possible for business owners without a degree in economics to get the best deal.

"Mini" Wal-Mart Coming to Rogers Park?

The Rogers Park blog is reporting that Ald. Joe Moore has green-lighted a deal to bring a "mini" Wal-Mart store to the corner of Greenview Ave. and Jarvis in Rogers Park. The Alderman will have a press conference on Monday about the deal, but it sure won't be the last you'll hear about it.

And if you believe that, you're pretty gullible. That's a sweet April Fool's from RogersPark.com.

Scenes from Closing Borders

Local Borders bookstores are in their final days. Here are photos of the carnage over the last couple months.

Hyde Park:
closing Hyde Park Borders store, cafe still (sort of) open
by katherine of chicago

Michigan Avenue:
Everything Must Go
by Erin Nekervis

Lincoln Village:
closing Borders, Lincoln Village
by katherine of chicago

Evanston:
All Lined Up
© Andy Marfia

Targeting Cabrini-Green

Now that the last Cabrini-Green high rise is on its way down, the CHA and Target are in discussions for a new Target store to be located on five acres formerly associated with the public housing project. The land would be swapped for other nearby property, and 75 CHA residents would be hired as employees.

Anheuser Island

Local brewery Goose Island has agreed to be purchased by Anheuser-Busch for $38.8 million. Despite the ownership change, the brewery will stay in the city, and their brew pubs are not part of the deal.

Maybe He Found a Better Deal Elsewhere

Citing the company's need for a "much different type of operator to take it to the next level" to handle its rapid growth, Groupon COO and President Rob Solomon is leaving the company.

Furniture Porn

West Loop-based green furniture company Strand Design recently launched an online store. Now you can buy new furniture while you sit on your old furniture. In your underwear.

No Lame Duck

Mayor Daley isn't spending his last months in office just sitting around. He's headed to China to try to draw new business to Chicago, and is still lobbying for his high-speed train to O'Hare.

Groupon: Admired or Reviled?

Now a NY Times blog asks, "Is Groupon Ruining Retailing?"

Sears, Roebuck and Co. in its Third Century

After surviving everything from urbanization and the re-specialization of the retail market, Sears is struggling to find its niche today. Changing Gears headed out into the street and into offices to consider its future.

RIP James Tyree

Jim Tyree, chairman and CEO of Mesirow Financial and chairman of the Sun-Times Media Group, died yesterday after a battle with stomach cancer. The Sun-Times has multiple stories, including tributes from Obama, Daley and others; Tribune offered a substantial obituary; and Ron May eulogizes him as a champion for Chicago's tech and media community.

The All-Beef Fame of Chicago Hot Dogs

Speaking of Chicago foods in elsewhere in the country, a Missouri couple smitten by the flavors of Chicago hot dogs decided to open a Chicago-style hot dog restaurant in Holden, Missouri. So, you know, the next time you're in Holden, you're all set.[via]

A Proposal for Making Lakeview More Livable

Lee Bey has a short preview of the new Lakeview Area Master Plan the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce is releasing tonight.

Three Million Square Feet is Never Enough

Bill Davies, the developer who bought the Old Main Post Office at auction is in negotiations to purchase the nearby Sugar House, which could be demolished to make way for a new ramp network for Congress Parkway. The word is he's looking at other property too.

New MAS Context Issue Released: "Network"

The new issue of MAS Context, "Network," was released yesterday and already has a shout-out from archinect.

Fight the Empire at McCormick Place

Local plush maker Steff Bomb's created a soft-yet-deadly Han Solo blaster, so well-made any intrepid hero would be proud to have it at their side. Pick up one of these limited edition stuffed sidearms this weekend at C2E2: 2301 South Lake Shore Drive, Booth #1026, 2pm-3pm. Did I mention it comes with a holster?

...And Their Weather Stinks, Too

Bernardo Hees, CEO of Burger King, said during a recent visit to U of C, "The food is terrible and the women are not very attractive [in England]. Here in Chicago the food is good, and you are known for good-looking women." Not surprisingly, the Brits are pissed.

Another Conspiracy Theory Averted

Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee feared that President Obama interfered in the FDIC's decision to try to save ShoreBank, so they asked the FDIC inspector to investigate. No wrongdoing was found.

Ice and the Law, Surprisingly Not I.C.E. and the Law

The state is launching serious legal action against the allegedly shady world of the local ice industry.

13 Miles of Aisles

The NY Times tells you all you want to know about the International Home and Housewares Show.

Little Gets Bigger

Tired of reading stories about how the recession is killing America? Then go read about Blue Buddha Boutique, the little business that could.

The $12,500 Groupon

Rolling Meadows-based Ajilitee offered $25,000 worth of IT consulting for half off on Groupon; it sold out this morning. Fast Company gets the backstory.

Bazaar Proposition

The Vintage Bazaar has announced its 2011 schedule, and is accepting vendor applications for its May show.

Ah, the Joys of Writing Headlines!

"Mortuary school not a haven for 'weird people,' students say."

Give Wal-Mart a Chance?

The Chicago Journal takes a look at the Walmart Neighborhood Market moving into the West Loop, and thinks we should give it a chance.

An Old-Fashioned Shave

EthicallyEngineered offers a shaving kit in a box made out of wood reclaimed from old tenement houses. [via]

I'm Sorry, Consumer. I'm Afraid I Can't do That.

Meet suburban-based Kraft's "Meal Planning Solution," a kiosk that will be able to recognize your face and give you shopping suggestions based on your shopping history. In the process, it'll also provide recipes, free samples ... and "anonymously" collect data.

TIFs Work for Big Corporations

Columbia College students took a look at who received money from TIFs between 2000 and 2010, and found that nearly half ended up benefiting corporations rather than helping economically blighted areas. A searchable map of TIF projects is online here. And Chicago mag's Whet Moser puts into further context.

"It's like coming to Vegas for the first time"?

The Chicago Dental Society's 146th Midwinter Meeting is in progress, and apparently it's pretty exciting ... at least it is for dentists.

Walmart's Next Store to be in ... Presidential Towers?

Walmart is opening its first Chicago small grocery store in Presidential Towers under the name Neighborhood Market. They're hoping there's less backlash to this location than in Lakeview.

Taking Groupon Cloning to Another Level

In China, Groupon faces competition ...from Groupon.

Independent Bookstores Rise Again!

After you're done pillaging Borders, check out this list of independent bookstores located near the closing Borders locations. As always, other ideas are in the Book Club.

Pillage Borders

The sales at closing Borders stores begin Saturday; we've got your list in Book Club.

Not So Stuffed Pizza

Giordano's filed for bankruptcy Thursday, but said it plans to keep its restaurants open.

Blackstone's Fed-Funded Makeover

Why was the Blackstone Hotel's $116-million renovation financed in part by a federal development program intended to aid low-income communities? Bloomberg Markets magazine finds out.

Any Publicity is Good Publicity?

Groupon may have caught a lot of flak for its Super Bowl commercials, but it reaped major spikes in web traffic. Whether those extra visits translate into new customers is another question altogether.

Groupon Cock-Blocks Sex Shop

So Groupon rejected an application from local female-friendly sex shop Early to Bed. Then they called them to offer a new program, and rejected them again for being an adult business. At least we won't be seeing any g-spot related commercials from Groupon any time soon.

Your Own Deal

Urban Offer takes a different tack from the many group deal sites popping up: make an offer for how much you're willing to pay for a service (currently limited to salons and body care businesses, it seems) and see which business takes you up on it.

Valentines for Expats

"Somebody in Chicago loves you." Another one misses you. (Or maybe one of these flags would be better.)

Groupon's Ad Campaign: Now a Third Off!

Bowing to pressure, Groupon has pulled its Tibet ad from television, although it still appears on the SaveTheMoney website -- and you can still donate to The Tibet Fund.

Getting Older in Chicago

The ratio of Chicago residents over 65 to everyone else will climb from 1 to 9 to 1 to 6 over the next 20 years. Crain's looks at the effects of the demographic shift.

49% Off Their Next Ad Agency

Groupon caught a whole lot of flack for its Super Bowl commercials playing philanthropy (for deforestation, saving the whales and the plight of Tibet) for laughs in connection to group deals. The company launched a subsite to make donations to those causes, but at least on Sunday, neither the ads nor Groupon's main site include a link to it. UPDATE: Groupon CEO Andrew Mason responds to the criticism.

Live Your Best Life, Pay Your Highest Mortgage

You can live in celebrity decorator/Oprah entourage member Nate Berkus' old place in the Gold Coast for $2.65 million.

Established 1857

New City spends some time at Iwan Ries, the oldest family-owned tobacconist in the country.

A Blizzard in the Stores

Might the blizzard help stimulate the economy? It certainly helped clear the shelves at local groceries and hardware stores. (At minimum, that should make up for everything being closed Wednesday.)

Tagging Brand Name Goods in China

Leo Burnett partnered with Heidelberger Druckmaschinen to create a new software and marking system to ensure goods sold in China aren't counterfeit.

One Less Bell to Answer, One Less First Lady to Dress

According to NYT coverage of the fashion industry's criticism of the red Alexander McQueen dress that Michelle Obama wore to the January 19 state dinner, the First Lady is reportedly no longer working with stylist Ikram Goldman.

A New Beverage Horizon

Is it time to crack open a Walgreen's beer?

Pricey Pigs

We don't do a lot of coverage of Chicago Mercantile Exchange movements, but here's a reminder from the industry our city still rules: Asian demand helped drive hog futures up 31 percent this year to their highest price since 1996, 90.125 cents a pound.

Better Living Through Restringing

Chicago native Noel Ross, who invented the EZstringer, was featured in an episode of "Pitchmen" that aired Tuesday night on the Discovery Channel. Ross's invention, which restrings drawstrings, first caught show producer's attention last year at the International Housewares Show in Chicago.

Behind the Scenes at Groupon

An anonymous employee of Groupon took questions on Reddit last week. [via]

Group-Buyers' Remorse

Shoulda seen this coming: Dealigee is a secondary marketplace for discounts bought through sites like Groupon and LivingSocial.

Parfait, Little Coke, McChicken, Medium Coke, Salad, Large Coke

A McDonald's advertisement seen on a CTA bus has created a bunch of confusion.

"Remove the tie, or you're fired."

What kind of tie will get you fired at Webb Chevrolet? A Packers tie.

Target Pirie Scott

Target is opening another downtown location in 2012, this time in the historic Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company building on State Street.

Probably Not Part of His Fantasy

Kanye West's music career may be doing well, but he's had to close one of his Fatburger franchises.

How Many Jobs are in Your Ward?

There are probably fewer than there used to be.

Deal-A-Day Site of the Day

DealRod aggregates deal-a-day offers, which isn't in itself unique; the difference is human beings filter and (theoretically) pick the best ones.

It Looks Like There'll be Another Costco in Town

City Council approved $2.5 million in tax breaks for the newest proposed Costco location. If all goes as planned, the new store will sit in the massive open area that's been slowly created by Medical District demolitions.

Second to Zuck

Considering Groupon's meteoric rise, it's not surprising to see Andrew Mason sit at number two on Under30CEO's list of the most influential CEOs under 30 years old.

No More Cardboard

File this for your next move: Redi-Box rents reusable, stackable plastic boxes to hold your stuff, and picks them up when you're done moving.

Scratch'n'Save

Chicago-based Bare Deal is a novel twist on the deal site: take the weekly offer and they mail you a scratch-off card with a discount of up to 100 percent.

Take My Compost, Please!

Erlene Howard's burgeoning green business helps those who can't compost for themselves. For under $11 a week, she'll take northsiders' compostables and put them to good use (not a landfill).

Might Groupon Go Public?

That's the news swirling right now. But is it a good idea?

Book Buying

A new monthly feature in Book Club profiles local literary purveyors of titles new, used, and varied, starting with Andersonville's Transistor.

Breathe a Little Easier

The federal government and NIPSCO reached an agreement to clean up our easterly winds. Of course, we have our own coal-fired power plants too...

State Income Tax Rises 66% -- or 2 Percentage Points

Which sounds egregious, until you realize it went from 3 percent to 5 percent, which still leaves us middle of the pack. What's more noteworthy is increase from 4.8 percent to 7 percent for businesses, which could mean businesses move or lay off employees. Wisconsin's governor is already rubbing it in.

The City's Oldest Business

The jewelry store C.D. Peacock was founded the same year Chicago was incorporated. You may be familiar with the ornate doors to its State Street store.

Get Weighed by Special K

Would a (confidence-boosting) scale help you keep those healthy resolutions? Stop by Union Station on your way home Tuesday between 3 and 6pm for a complimentary box of Special K Red Berries and an opportunity to learn more about weight loss benefits. It's all a part of their nationwide "What will you gain when you lose?" tour. RSVP on Facebook.

How to Start Up

If you've been thinking about starting a business, lawyer Coco Soodek's Profit & Laws blog might help you decide what type of business to form. And her new book, Birth to Buyout, gives you pointers on every step of the life cycle of your business.

At Least the Ladies Will Still Be Public

Playboy magazine has once again become a privately owned company after owner Hugh Hefner did some financial wrangling to avoid rival Penthouse from taking over existing shares.

Meet Chicago's "Most Durable Corporate Dynasty"

You know, the Smiths.

Plaster Beauty

The Hardscrabbler takes us on a tour of Decorators Supply in Bridgeport.

Krafty

Northfield-based Kraft Foods has been smarting due to its Starbucks and Cadbury troubles, so it's opted for a feel-good story by hiring the Columbus, Ohio homeless man with the "golden voice."

Meters Scaring Customers?

You're not the only one upset about those increased parking meter rates.

Family Money

The Northern Trust launched a new wealth management practice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender households.

Win Cash for Novel Online Marketing Ideas

The city's Treasurer's Office and Constant Contact are sponsoring a 2011 Small Business Online Marketing Contest, which offers cash prizes and free Constant Contact accounts for small businesses who have innovative email and social media campaigns.

Too Early to Celebrate

If the City approves the single bid to privatize our summer festivals, we may get some really great lineups and well-run events, but at a potentially steep cost, Jim DeRogatis reports.

Groupon the J-School

And speaking of Groupon, did you know it's started its own journalism school of sorts? [via]

Chicago's Got Your Coupon

Speaking of deal sites, Groupon isn't the only big name in town: CouponCabin is the second largest in the country.

One-Stop Deal Shopping

It's about time: Chicago Deal Sites collects all the daily deals for Chicagoland (well, a lot of them anyway) in one spot for convenient perusal.

How Much Money Would You Like?

After turning down Google's purchase offer, Groupon is now looking for $950 million in equity financing.

Sears Alphalines Video

Sears is getting into the streaming video business with Alphaline Entertainment, which is apparently named after sister store Kmart's house brand electronics cables.

Bacon is Killing the Merc

Thanks in part to the popularity of bacon, pork belly trading has all but ceased on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Wall Street Journal reports. [Google News link] Learn more about the history of futures in a new book.

Hideout Your Gifts

Still don't have your Christmas shopping done? The Hideout gives you another chance to buy local with its holiday sale tonight.

The Front Lines of the Economy

Even the Maxwell Street Market is showing signs of struggle in this recession. But even at the bottom rung of commerce, there is optimism.

More Than Coal in Their Stockings

It seems partners and associates at Chicago-based law firm Kirkland & Ellis are receiving some pretty amazing holiday bonuses this year. [via]

Good Deals, Good Deeds

The Local Tourist has launched its own deals site -- with a charitable twist.

Got Gifts?

No? Slacker. It's OK though -- this Saturday at Schubas, shop the Indie Arts Holiday Market, a manageable plethora of potential presents from local artists and designers.

The Real Deal

Not to be outdone by Groupon (and the gajillion other Groupon-esque sites out there), The Reader has launched its own daily deal program, focusing on local merchants.

Additional Consequences of Stalled Contract Negotiations

The American Sociological Association is relocating its 2011 annual meeting (and 10,000+ attendees) away from Chicago due to ongoing hotel labor disputes.

The Kindness of Strangers

Do something kind for a foster child: check out the Northern Stars Holiday Giving Program. You can select a male or female child from age 4 to 17 and buy something (or everything) off their wish list. Sure, you'll find the usual Christmas gift wishes: Barbies, scooters, iPods. But there are also some real heart-breakers: Different colored string. A nightgown. Snow boots. A warm comforter. (If you don't have time to get to the store, you can choose your kid, then click a link that allows you to shop through Amazon and have your gift sent to the collection site.)

A Reminder About Online Sales and Use Taxes

You probably owe them, and the Illinois General Assembly wants to help you pay them.

When Having a Job isn't Enough to Get Paid

Crain's finds that Chicago workers are increasingly getting stiffed by their employers for wages earned.

Lakeview to Save Money, Complain About Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart has signed a lease for retail space at 2840 N. Broadway, Chicago Real Estate Daily reports. [via]

NewCity's Number Ones

Cultural weekly NewCity gives us their 2010 top picks in vintage TV shows filmed in Chicago, food trucks, indoor make-out spots, and many more.

New MAS Context Issue Released

The eighth issue of the MAS Studio journal MAS Context is live today. Entitled "Public," it addresses everything from a reconceptualization of design principles to what makes a favorite public space.

Gift Hunt

In honor of their iPhone app's second incarnation, online cultural guide Flavorpill is hosting a city scavenger hunt, where you answer Chicago trivia questions to win some presents.

Grouponed Cat Drawings

Steve Gadlin ran a Groupon for his IWantToDrawACatForYou.com and it sold out; now he has to draw 1,000 cats.

Oprah, What do You have in Store for Us?

With The Oprah Winfrey Show wrapping up in May, Crain's takes a look at what may or may not be going on with Harpo Studios.

Groupon Rejects Google

Groupon says "no thanks" to the reported $6 billion offer from search engine giant Google.

Gifts that Sound Great

The Transmission staff has compiled their picks for the best holiday gifts for that discerning Chicago music lover. Whether you want to spend $5 or $300, we've got you covered.

The Globe Stops Spinning

Replogle Globes, one of the world's largest globe makers, has been sold and is closing its Chicago factory.

I'll Work Out on that Sawhorse, Please

In April, residents of Albany Park were so excited about a new gym opening in their neighborhood they purchased memberships before it even opened. Months have since passed without much progress on the gym's construction. Now credit card charges for a membership at an unopened gym, conflicting statements and additional research into the matter are raising more questions than answers.

Further Groupon News

While Google awaits an answer, Groupon has announced a couple new services: Groupon Stores and Deal Feed. Time Out has a bit more, and a peek inside Groupon HQ.

How Google Can Keep Groupon

Groupon's board is meeting today to discuss Google's purchase offer, which is officially official now, I guess. Should the deal go down, Henry Blodget has some suggestions for Google on how not to screw it up.

$3 Billion Gas Plant One Step Closer to Realization

The Illinois House passed legislation yesterday that could clear the way for a massive synthetic gas facility to be constructed along the Calumet River. It would burn refinery waste and coal to produce the fuel, which People's Gas argues would lead to considerable cost increases for Chicago users. Next up: the Senate.

South Loop Gets a TJ's

Trader Joe's is moving into the former Sam's Wine & Spirits space at Wabash and Roosevelt sometime next year, Crain's reports.

Urbs in Mercatus

Tomorrow at Goose Island Wrigleyville, the Chicago Architecture Foundation is hosting a discussion on "the Malling of Chicago." There's also conversation online regarding the proposed Wrigleyville hotel/shopping complex, Block 37 mall and Wal-Mart in Pullman.

Charity via Shopping

SpendForGood is a new site that lets you help local charities simply by shopping online.

Groupon is Google's Deal of the Day?

Rumors are swirling that Google has purchased Groupon for $2.5 billion. No official announcements so far, but vague Twitter exchanges are being pointed to as evidence. UPDATE 11/30: Google's offer is reportedly $5.3 billion. Still no official word from either company.

Secret Groupon

Groupon has a "secret" Thanksgiving weekend specials page that run today through Monday.

Thrifty Black Friday

The always-handy Twitter feed @chigaragesale has the scoop on some great Black Friday deals, but they aren't at the department stores downtown. Print out a coupon to save $10 on a purchase of $25 or more at participating Unique thrift stores. And they've confirmed that the Brown Elephant stores will have everything discounted 50% off Friday-Sunday! And more!

Ninjas by the Dozen

Shawnimals does a ninja of the month club, and 2011 is coming soon. Sign up Dec. 5.

A "Top Five" Bar Night of the Year is ...

Thanksgiving Eve?

Dismantling Zion

The long-dormant Zion Nuclear Power Station that served Chicago and the rest of northern Illinois is being decomissioned in an unusual way. Rather than separating the radioactive and recyclable materials, everything but the spent fuel is going to a toxic dump.

Your Pun for the Day

Local coffee roaster Crop to Cup is now providing IIT with a custom blend: Mies van der Roast.

Pay-to-Play in a Field Established by Bootleggers?

No ... how could that be possible?

Chicago-Themed Holiday Cards

It's that time again: time to send out holiday cards. Here are a few with a Chicago theme to them on Etsy.

Short Term Shopping

In A/C, Amber Gibson explores the pop-up shop concept in its many forms.

Another Michigan Ave. Street Wall Building Changes Hands

Columbia College announced it is purchasing 820 S. Michigan Ave., the headquarters of Johnson Publishing. The company, which is the publisher of EBONY and JET, will move out within 18 months as part of a cost-cutting strategy.

Readealer

Meanwhile, did you know that the Reader now offers its own daily deal?

GrouYahoopon

Groupon is among the 16 daily deal sites partnering with Yahoo on a new "Local Offers" portal.

But Do They Have Hawaiian Shirt Day?

The Trib ranks the fifty best workplaces in Chicagoland.

Four Women, Many Hats

Looking for a nice custom hat? Chapeau, the Milliner's Guild, might be a good place to start.

Groupon for Good

Groupon has a different kind of group deal today: donations to the Chicago Community Trust.

No More Carbon Trading in the US

The Chicago Climate Exchange, which allows companies to trade credits for greenhouse gases, will be closing at the end of the year. The sister Chicago Climate Futures Exchange will remain open at least through 2012.

At Least Others are Benefiting from Our Parking Deal

Our parking meter fiasco is empowering other cities to rework potential parking meter lease contracts and make key changes ... like adding serious exit clauses and opportunities for long-term revenue.

Walgreens

An Oak Park Walgreens is apparently the first pharmacy to install a geothermal system, thanks to Oak Park's new geothermal law.

MSI's Million Dollar Man

Getting past the label of "charity" being applied to the nonprofit Museum of Science & Industry, MSI's President and CEO David Mosena's near-$1 million salary put him ninth highest on CharityNavigator's compensation survey. [via]

A Tidal Wave of Venture Capital

Groupon continues to seek capital, and this time it's looking for an amount that could value the company at $3 billion. Oh, and GrubHub just received $11 million of its own.

Decorate the Kitchen Sink

Edgewater coffee shop, Kitchen Sink, is looking for local artists to display their work at the business in 2011. The cafe is located near the Berwyn Red Line stop. Details.

Sequential Art Stroll

Forget pub and bar and even zombie bar crawls....book crawls are where it's at, specifically comic shops uniting for an inaugural Comic Book Crawl. First Aid Comics, Chicago Comics, Challengers Comics + Conversation, and Third Coast team up want you to come by, get 20% off with a filled out passport, and have the chance to win over $1000 worth of cool comic book prizes. Details available at each store. POW!

How to Renovate When the House Next Door is Pretty Important

The Moynihans have found renovating the house next door to the Obamas has some special challenges.

The Softer Logo of Sears

Brand New looks at Sears' new logo.

Entrepreneurial Chicago

Technori is a new site "celebrating Chicago's entrepreneurs." It leads off with a good one: a profile of the prolific Phil Tadros.

No Longer Crossing California

The Jewish portion of Devon Avenue is disappearing.

Fortified Candy, But Not, Like, In a Good Way

Colombina Candy Co., which has an outpost in Des Plaines, is recalling its Megapops line of lollipops, which were found to contain metal flakes. (And Nestle , which has several Illinois-based facilities, is recalling a bunch of Raisinets because they may contain peanuts.) Trick or nontoxic treat, anyone?

Wirtz Skirmish

As the Blackhawks struggle on the ice, the Wirtz family struggles with each other behind the scenes.

Parking Meters Aren't the Only Pricey Parking

If you've ever thought that Chicago garage parking rates seem high, you're right. A new study shows that Chicago is the second most expensive U.S. city for first-hour parking rates and a top four member for other measures of cost.

Undead Shopping

Sears.com has redecorated for the season. (Thanks, Brenda!)

Apple Has Arrived

The new Apple Store at North and Clybourn opens tomorrow at 10am, and the first 4,000 people will get a free t-shirt. One of the benefits of the new store? A renovated Red Line station that includes new public space.

Another Peek in 37signals' Offices

This time in Fast Company Design, with a bit more detail about how the space was built. And here're more behind-the-scenes photos of the furniture being made by Stay-Straight Manufacturing.

Groupon Gets a Deal

You know, we love us some Groupon here at GB, but we have to agree with Greg Hinz: why does the fastest growing company in history need a $3.5 million aid package to hire more workers?

Wear Your Love Around Your Neck

I Heart Illinois, from truche.

Shop Indie

Tomorrow, the 16th, marks the start of Independent Retail Week in Chicago. Pick up a map and goodie bag at Akira stores in Wicker Park.

The Discount Game

SCVNGR is a Foursquare-like service that turns checking into a business into a game -- but incentivized with discounts. It just launched in Chicago today, with four special "treks" from ExploreChicago.

Groupon's Teeming Progeny

As AdAge notes, it's getting tough to navigate through all the collective coupon sites crowding the market.

Turkey Tom vs. Tom Turkey

Jimmy John's is suing Halsted Street Deli over trademarked sandwich names. (Watch out, Mr. Pickle's, you're next)

Threadless Gets Mouse Ears

Threadless has inked a deal with Disney to promote Tron: Legacy. Design a shirt, win $3,000. Wonder if their phenomenally successful light cycle hoodie had anything to do with it?

Touchscreen Financials

Chicago business runs on an iPad?

The Invention Store

Inventables for the first time sells some of its amazing materials directly to consumers. Squishy magnet, anyone?

A New Way to Pay for the CTA?

The CTA issued an RFP for a new payment system, ideally one that will let riders pay fares with RFID enabled credit and debit cards, as well as proprietary transit cards.

Cheers to These Guys

Chicago-based glassware company By the Glass has been getting some attention lately for their tasteful lines of drinking glasses inspired by several cities around the world. Maybe I'm biased, but I like the Chicago line.

CTA on Your Wrist

Local jeweler Fugu Designs has created some interesting copper cuff bracelets featuring the CTA map and other maps.

What's a Little Condensation do to a Painting?

The Art Institute has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Ove Arup & Partners, alleging the firm is responsible for a variety of problems in the building.

Tale of Two Blocks

The Wall Street Journal reports on the very different treatment the Sullivan Center and Block 37, both developed by the same firm, are getting from their creditors.

Addressing 3,000 Acres of Brownfields

Changing Gears takes a look at how cities can address aging industrial structures.

"Knock Him Upside the Head"

Some financial advice from the Wall Street Journal inspired by the unfortunately vocal U of C law professor who claimed his family was "just getting by" on $250,000 a year.

Mobile Marketing Meets a Zamboni

Local mobile advertising firm Vibes Media and the Blackhawks get shout-outs in a NY Times piece about the blossoming market for sports themed mobile device applications.

Assets for Sale, Cheap

The Economist looks into Daley's legacy of privatization.

Monsters in Tubes

It's mystery tube day! Dan Grzeca (who designed the poster for our Labor Day show at the Metro last year) has a mystery tube sale going on right now -- and his include t-shirts.

Making Over McDonald's

How might the McDonald's of the future look? Much more stylish. [via]

Mystery Art

Willing to take a risk? Delicious Design League is selling mystery tubes containing a test print, two editioned prints and two misprints for just $30.

Escalators to Nowhere

Nearly a year after it opened, Block 37 remains an eerie ghost town.

Baking for a Changing Neighborhood

WBEZ reminds us that gentrification can have some unexpected consequences for local businesses.

Re-Framed

FoundRe: Furnishings makes some very cool picture frames our of salvaged wood.

Blackstone Bicycle Works Burned Again

The Blackstone Bicycle Works has been a victim of a fire for the second time in 10 years [right side of screen]. This time their building was spared, but they lost 400 bikes. If you'd like to help them rebuild, you can make a donation to the group through their website.

Inspired by the O

Vendor Cheikh Fall opened a store in Harlem after selling his wares on the street for years. He named the store "Ob'Prama -- an amalgam of Obama and Oprah, two people who, he said, have inspired him." [via]

T-Shirts Go Big

Dell's Motherboard.TV has a mini-documentary on the phenomenon that is Threadless. (The two companies teamed up on some computers recently.)

Digging a Deeper (Financial) Hole for the Spire

While no one seems particularly optimistic about the likelihood the Chicago Spire will ever get built, the building's developer recently experienced yet another financial setback.

The Local Options

I occasionally find myself putting together a gift basket of Chicago-based foods. I'm definitely not alone.

Looking for a New Building?

Why not make it Merchandise Mart?

Like "Glee"? Do We Have the Store for You!

Claire's is opening a pop-up "Glee" themed store in Water Tower Place on Friday, complete with lockers, a piano and more "Glee" merchandise that a teenybopper will know what do with.

Shifting Chicago Avenue

In A/C, J.R. Williams tells the story of the nebulous gentrification of a colorful strip in Ukrainian Village, through interviews with its small business owners.

Fast Pizza Company

Ramon DeLeon, the hardest working Domino's guy in Chicago, is profiled in Fast Company.

Building in the Midst of Real Estate Catastrophe

Downtown high-end apartment occupancy rates are a surprising 94.5%, prompting developers to pursue options for new construction.

The Bear Market

Despite being a legendary sports franchise in a major market, the Chicago Bears are definitely not thrilling the nation with their team valuation—9th in the NFL and $800 million below their estimated potential. According to Forbes, "the problem begins and ends with ownership."

Plastic Models

Rotofugi, which just moved to Lincoln and Diversey, opens a show of Playboy-inspired art tonight.

I Spy With My Satellite Eye

Chicago-based Remote Sensing Metrics is coming up with novel ways to assess economic health, like counting cars in parking lots or the number of shipping containers at a port.

Good Thing We're Not Gapers Book

Northbrook-based teachbook.com is being sued by facebook because facebook claims it has the unique ability to use "book" in relation to any social networking website.

Broadway Bank Closure Motivations Cleared

If you were skeptical about the motivations of the timing of the Broadway Bank closure, the FDIC says to put your mind at ease.

So Long, ShoreBank

ShoreBank, the only bank with a slogan anything like "Let's change the world," failed. Its "good" assets have been transferred to the brand new Urban Partnership Bank, leaving some to worry about the future of investment in Chicago's low income neighborhoods.

Bye, Bye, Tulips

The United and Continental merger is moving ahead, as its branding.

From Aqua to "Green"

The Architect's Paper looks at three firms pushing building design and development strategies surrounding the Loop, including Friedman Properties, one of the key players in the "green" garage.

Four Stories of Flora and Fauna

The Chicago Reader wants you to know about John Edel and his plans to create a vertical farm in a former meat processing plant.

Groupon Overwhelms Itself

Much like the small firms who receive overwhelming response from Groupon emails, the company's own servers were swamped today by a deal for $50 worth of Gap merchandise for $25.

Chicago's Potbelly Expands

Did you know that Potbelly Sandwiches had never signed a franchise deal until this week? Apparently the Lincoln Park store has held out for more than a decade, despite expanding into 40 cities and receiving some 6,000 hopeful franchise inquiries.

Zero to $500 Million in 2 Years

Groupon is the fastest growing company in history, according to Forbes.

Another Day, Another Discount

A couple of new local discount sites debuted this week: Daily Deal Chicago and DealsNear.Me, which is more of a meta-discount site -- it aggregates discounts from a number of places.

"Rebooting" ShoreBank?

So what will happen if ShoreBank doesn't get the federal bailout it needs? Crain's explores two scenarios.

The Small Survive

Really small businesses, or "microbusinesses," are weathering the recession relatively well, LISC finds.

Still Paying Up

Despite that tax holiday, we're still tied for the highest sales tax in the country, according to a new survey.

Bye Bye, Ravenswood Bank

Ravenswood Bank was closed by the FDIC on Friday, the sixth bank in Chicago to fail since 2008.

1,000 Shares of Wheat

The Reader profiles Sarah Kavage, creator of Industrial Harvest, an "experiment to discover how an abstract 'wheat futures' contract connects to real wheat, real food and real people."

Gone Fishing Shopping

Starting tomorrow at 12:01am, the entire state gets a tax holiday through August 15 in order to pay less for school supplies; Illinois retailers will lower their normal sales tax charge by 5% for qualifying items [pdf]. Everyone can take advantage of the tax benefit, which is good for those of you looking to get a new athletic supporter.

Go Wait Tables

Looking for a job in food service? FoodBevJobs is a new local service that'll help.

Welcome to Chicago, Visiting Taxpayer

Guess which city leads the tax pack with an average of $101 in travel and consumer taxes paid over a three day visit.

Fighting Fraudulent Debt Settlement

Attorney General Lisa Madigan writes on Huffington Post about Illinois' new law against predatory debt settlement companies, now supposedly the strongest in the nation.

A Green Place for Your Green

GreenChoice Bank is the first "green" bank in Chicago. Co-founder Steve Sherman was on "Monsters of the Morning" on CBS2 Monday.

Everything is Recyclable

Even vibrators.

The Success of Price

The other side of coupon sites like Groupon is the risk the discount will be too popular.

Goodbye, Edna's

A month after its namesake passed away, Edna's has closed.

A Fair Film

Coudal has created another charming film, this time featuring the sights and sounds of the Monona County Fair in Iowa where the team was peddling their new Field Notes County Fair edition.

Somebody Wants to be More Popular!

After coming to the realization that "Our name sounds foreign," Banco Popular is changing its name in Chicago to Popular Community Bank in hopes of picking up more non-Latin American customers.

Meet Weston, Illinois

There aren't enough urban planning stories about nuclear scientists, the mob and the feds unwittingly working towards the same end.

What More Can the City Lease?

At least one company wants to lease the ability to decorate bridge houses.

No, not Just Green Paint

Want to decorate your home in an eco-friendly way? ApartmentTherapy has your "Green City Guide."

Will You Tune In to the "Morning Rush"?

ABC 7's replacement for "The Opera Winfry Show" is starting to take shape, but will anyone watch it?

Fiscal Policy Talk

The MacArthur Foundation and Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago host a discussion Wednesday night entitled "America's Fiscal Future: Making Difficult Choices." Come hear from the expert committee that produced the non-partisan report, Choosing the Nation's Fiscal Future.

Sidewalk Sale One Block from Gucci

Fashion Focus Chicago is hosting a two-day sidewalk sale at Daley Plaza, with more than 36 Chicago designers and local independent boutiques. And at noon, a runway show!

Long Live Vintage!

Local artist Dolan Geiman recently announced a partnership with Fossil that's part of their Long Live Vintage campaign. If you'd like some background, check out GB's interview with Dolan and Ali, his business partner and now wife, from 2008.

Nothing to Buy Here

This is not a secret agent online store. Nope. Not at all.

Battle of the Brides

In more wedding news ('tis the season), the "Running of the Brides" event, in which hundreds of brides-to-be bum-rush the Filene's Basement on State St. looking for a drastically marked-down designer bridal gown, will take place on July 23. Be there with elbows out at the 8 a.m. opening time to snag your own dress, or just to watch the mayhem unfold.

Come Fly Away

Three Chicago natives and ex-Orbitz employees created BonVoyou, a new travel discount site that donates a portion of each sale to charity. Their current charity of choice is Bear Necessities, benefitting children and families affected by pediatric cancer. Sign up here to become a member.

Yet Another Pitchfork Guide

Adding to the long list of Pitchfork guides is this one, from the New York Times' T Magazine, geared more towards out-of-towners looking for places to eat and shop.

Going to the Chapel, and You're Gonna Save Money

No one will argue that weddings aren't expensive. But local entrepreneurs Amanda Sudimack and Tina Thomure found a way to help couples save money before they share nuptials. They created Wed•OBO (that's "Or Best Offer" for you non-shoppers) to be a sort of Groupon-like site to help people planning weddings connect with smaller business owners. The current offer is an amazing deal for wedding invitations from Girl Metro.

The Groupon Guy

How well do you know Andrew Mason?

One Feed, Many Coupons

Can't keep up with all those daily coupon emails? Try following Deal Radar to see all the offers at once. (Thanks, Rachelle and Anna!)

The Village People Hit Now 75% Shorter

The YMCA, the venerable Chicago-based institution, has changed its name to, simply, "The Y." (The Village People will keep singing the original, of course.)

A Greener Neighborhood

Today marks the start of Andersonville's Green Week, with seven days of cool and informative activities for residents and shoppers. Events include t-shirt recycling, shopping discounts, LEED home tours, eco-storybook making, free stuff, and more.

Threadless on Your Laptop

Dell has tapped Threadless to provide case designs for its Design Studio line of laptops. (They're also on your feet, thanks to a deal with Havaianas.)

Lighter Fare from Burger Meisters

A couple of McDonald's alums are working on a new, healthier fast-casual chain.

Trading Hands

The Wall Street Journal profiles Chicago futures trader Ryan Carlson and his efforts to preserve the history of hand signals used in pit trading on his web site tradingpithistory.com. [via]

Cake Tees

The Cakegirls is raising money to reopen their fire-destroyed bakery by selling t-shirts.

No Free Lemonade

What's the difference between a lemonade stand that charges a nickel a glass and one that gives its drinks away for free? Everything, according to Terry Savage.

Big Boxes March Onward

While all of the retail buzz is consumed by Walmart's expansion plans, Target is hoping to build its 11th Chicago store in the West Loop.

What to do with Three Billion Cups

Starting this fall, Starbucks will pilot a program in Chicago to recycle as many of its paper cups as it can get its hand on. The cups will be made into napkins at a Wisconsin paper mill.

Candy, Gum, Chocolate, Coffee, Biscuits and Powdered Drinks

Suburban culinary megacompany Kraft Foods, Inc. is embarking on product and advertising realignment following its recent acquisition of Cadbury. The process provides some interesting insight into how multinational consumer product companies strategize global growth -- namely by selling sugary stuff to developing countries.

Analyzing the Lollapalooza Investigation

Jim DeRogatis has written one heck of a post analyzing Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's investigation of Lollapalooza's "radius clauses."

Not too Busy to Wear Nice Clothes

Trunk Club is a clothing service for men with too much to do. (Or a hatred of clothes shopping.)

Growing with Greenbacks

Some area residents are putting their money where there mouth is and investing in local organic farms in order to help sustain their own pantries.

A Deal for Late Risers

It's getting hard to keep track of all the daily deal sites; at least 3o'clockClub.com differentiates by time -- its deals change at 3pm, rather than midnight.

Local Notes

Coudal Partners' Field Notes just launched a "county fair" edition, which means you can pick up notebooks with a bunch of interesting facts about Illinois or some other random state.

Wal-Mart's Empty Promise

Local First Chicago says, "Wal-Mart will not bring jobs to Chicago."

Pro-Walmart Demonstrators Need Fact Checkers

Two demonstrators photographed in a recent NYTimes article about Walmart's Chicago invasion claim "Benefits from Walmart better than AFDC." That should be no surprise, given Aid to Families with Dependent Children was retired in 1996.

Buy a Puppet, Help a Puppet Bike

Chicago's beloved mobile street entertainment known to one and all as Puppet Bike will offer up a little piece of itself on eBay starting next week. Owner/Creator Jason Trusty is "retiring" several older puppets and you can take them home, if you're the highest bidder.

The Beauty of Strange Closets

Chicago blog Strange Closets takes a close look at the charming and beautiful all around us. Similar to Apartment Therapy, but 100% local, the blog features shopping, interior design, and architecture you'll love looking at.

Lightbank: "They are studs"

SFGate profiles Chicago venture capital firm Lightbank and places it in a trend for startups outside of Silicon Valley.

Walmart's Invasion Plans Made Semi-Public

Remember those reports about Walmart wanting to invade Chicago? Today it unveiled its plan to build dozens of stores over the next five years through what it's calling the "Chicago Community Investment Partnership." Here's the press release.

Who Will Win the "Oil Spill Cup"?

Rather than being a coup for the Sox, Cubs and BP, the BP Crosstown Cup has turned out to be a public relations nightmare.

Fewer Brazilians

Groupon is considering a version "for dudes."

WindyCitizen Founder Wins Knight News Challenge

Brad Flora, founder of WindyCitizen, is one of this year's Knight News Challenge winners. He received $250,000 to develop his Twitter-connected "real-time ads" into a full-fledged ad platform, NowSpots.

Walmart Wants to Invade

Notice all those ads on buses and billboards asking you to bug your alderman about the Walmart? It's in support of plans to open dozens across the city.

"Crate & Barrel candles recalled for fire hazard"

I'd imagine so...

The CBOE Goes Public

NYTimes' Andrew Sorkin wondered before the market opened if the CBOE's IPO today was priced too high. So far, investors are saying, "Nope."

Good Luck, Potential Public Housing Residents!

The Chicago Housing Authority opened its Family Housing Wait List yesterday in order to fill 40,000 units. The rub: it's already received 60,000 applicants, and there's still nearly a month for people to apply. In comparison, 232,000 people applied for 40,000 Section 8 slots in 2008.

Where to Co-Work

With the number of freelancers increasing thanks to the Great Recession, more coworking spaces are popping up to give them somewhere other than coffee shops to work in. Check out COOP, OfficePort, Ravenswood Coworking, Writers Workspace, UBBOS, TechNexus and Jelly Chicago.

Free Wi-Fi Coming to Starbucks

Following McDonald's lead (or that of many neighborhood coffee shops, if you prefer), Starbucks will offer free unlimited Wi-Fi to customers throughout the city (and pretty much everywhere in the country) starting July 1.

Fix a Flat to the Rescue

The Bike Lane, a new bike shop in Logan Square, offers a handy service: if you get a flat tire between Addison and Chicago, Kedzie and Halsted, call the shop and they'll send someone out to fix it for you.

A Special Tee

RIPT Apparel, which just celebrated its first birthday, has a t-shirt sure to be a hit with Blackhawks fans today.

Not a Story You Hear Every Day

Solo Cup is closing three plants, but Chicago's not taking the hit this time. Instead, it's moving those operations here.

(Maybe a) Recovery on the Horizon

Crain's explores the effects of the slow withdrawal of stimulus funds from Chicago's economy -- and what it will mean for regional growth.

Vinyl Lives On

Logan Square got two new record stores this week: Saki, run by Carrot Top Records, and Bucket o' Blood, a "science fiction, fantasy, horror bookstore and vinyl store."

Groupon's Rivals Move In

Groupon may be the juggernaut, but rivals are nipping at its heels. Seattle-based Tippr just bought ChiTown Deals in an effort to boost its local presence. Meanwhile, New York's LivingSocial is ramping up its Chicago offerings, and local upstart CrowdClick launches next week.

Groupon Raids Crain's

Brandon Copple, managing editor of Crain's Chicago Business, is leaving to work for Groupon. Interesting timing, in light of the magazine's front page story and video profile of the service last week.

It's Your House Until the Judge Says So

Those guys with the new locks will be disappointed to know that in Illinois, a homeowner can continue to live in a foreclosed house -- even after it is sold -- until a judge determines when the homeowner needs to move out.

Hipsters to Run Hipster Beer Co.

The Wall Street Journal reports that investor C. Dean Metropoulos has purchased Woodridge-based Pabst, makers of PBR, Schlitz, Old Style and plenty other "old man" beers. His sons, Evan (29) and Daren (26) are expected to have a role. Here's a bit of background on the Metropoulos boys.

Ten for the Tee Boss

Amidst Threadless' 10-year anniversary, the company's CEO Thomas V. Ryan answers ten questions from The Killswitch Collective.

Food Trucks Soon?

On June 9, Ald. Scott Waguespack plans to introduce an ordinance allowing food trucks of the sort that roam LA and New York. He made the announcement at a National Restaurant Association panel discussing food truck culture.

Coming Soon: Options on Options Exchange

The CBOE member body has voted to go forward with its long-discussed IPO. Shares will start trading June 15.

Should the City Rent or Sell?

The Chicago Reporter takes a look at the Committee on Housing and Real Estate's decision to offer one year leases on 42 units and wonders if the shift indicates a change in city housing policy.

The Tie Makes the Man

Lee Allison makes some pretty snazzy ties. I love that this one is on sale.

The Clown Stays in the Picture

Ronald McDonald is staying.

Community Bank Saved by New Capital

The Trib and BusinessWeek are reporting that ShoreBank received a $20 million investment from GE. Crain's added the GE investment to all of the new capital and is calling the bank saved.

Settlement Reached Over Derelict Road

After more than a decade of legal battles, Vulcan Materials Company, the operator of the mine that spectacularly closed Joliet Road, is to pay $40 million to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Groupon Going Global

On Sunday Groupon acquired Citydeal, a European clone site that has double the employees and many more cities under its belt.

Seed Money for Sprout Social

Sprout Social, a social networking tool suite for businesses, just raised some seed capital.

Are Apartment Galleries Illegal?

According to city business code, yes.

No Genetic Tests for You

Remember those genetic tests being sold at Walgreens? That's as close as you're going to get to them.

Don't Blame Chicago for Last Week's Market Drop

The rumor that a "fat finger trade" by someone in Chicago caused the 1,000-point drop in the stock market last week is apparently not true; unfortunately, nobody's sure what happened. Meanwhile, the head of the CME Group pointed out that the futures market here worked fine.

Have Some Land? Start a Farm

Or let someone else do it for you.

Who Besides Wal-Mart?

Ald. Anthony Beale claims Wal-Mart is the only major retailer interested in coming to his ward. Hunter Clauss checked with Jewel-Osco, Dominick's, Target, Costco and Ikea -- and most of them say nobody ever asked them.

The End of ShoreBank?

The FDIC is now officially seeking a potential buyer for ShoreBank. The luminary community lender started in the South Shore community in 1973 and has grown into an international socially responsible operation. Unfortunately, unless money comes through from big investors, that won't be enough to keep it afloat.

Threadless on the Move

Threadless is moving to the West Loop; meanwhile its current home, the Ravenswood, is getting attention for its rebirth as a creative company corridor.

(Un)realized Industrial Paradise

Speaking of company stores, if planned industrial communities pique your interest, you'll love CAF's upcoming guided tour of Pullman and the "industrial Shangri-La" of Marktown. The tour costs $50 but includes a guide, all transportation and a box lunch.

Wal-Mart: Pullman's New Company Store?

As the Chicago Zoning Committee prepares to vote on the proposed Pullman Wal-Mart, Newstips explores the similarities between the commercial giant and a company store.

Value-Added Disservice

"Why is business writing so awful?," asks Jason Fried of 37signals.

Rest Your Head on Harold Washington

Or Jane Byrne or Eugene Sawyer. Oyez Perez has created throw pillows featuring our most recent former mayors. [via]

A Little Help From Our Airline Friends

Crain's Chicago Business reports that the merger of Continental and United could really help Chicago's economy.

Antiques Made Daily

If you're a dealer of reasonably priced vintage and antiques décor, etc. who'd like to get in on the shopping frenzy caused by the inaugural pop-up Vintage Bazaar, you can now fill out a vendor application to sell at their upcoming summer show. The next spree will take place at the Congress Theater on August 22.

United and Continental United

As expected, United and Continental airlines announced plans to merge today. If it passes federal review, new airline will be named United but the planes will look a lot like Continental's. Meanwhile, layoffs and strikes are expected. Watch UAL and Continental's stock prices today.

Should You Need a License to Braid?

It's up to Gov. Quinn to decide whether or not hair braiders need to spend 1,500 hours and $15,000 to braid hair.

United & Continental Merger Monday?

Crain's and other sources are saying United and Continental will announce plans to merge on Monday. Chicago would likely remain the headquarters.

Banking Roullette

Broadway Bank wasn't the only local bank to close last Friday. Lincoln Park Savings Bank was among the seven seized by the FDIC; it's now run by Northbrook Bank. Who might be next? Keep your eye on Midwest Bank.

Counting Sex Ads on Craigslist

Craigslist continues to get itself into hot water over sex oriented advertisements around the country. Here, the state's Attorney General's office is keeping a particularly close eye on the site, tabulating more than 200,000 Chicago sex ads in just over two years.

Wal-Mart Likened to Suicide

A.V. Club Chicago weighs whether Wal-Mart in the city is "a bad thing, or the worst thing."

Groupon Settles Lawsuit, Side Deal Unknown

Groupon recently settled its legal troubles for an undisclosed amount.

Push Something into the Sunlight, It's Bound to Get Burned

Time Out Chicago wrote about the only legal gourmet-style food truck in the city right now in last week's issue -- and the attention is getting All Fired Up hassled.

Chopping Down the Learning Tree

Educational supply store The Learning Tree is going out of business, and it's liquidating its store in Ravenswood. Stop by before April 25 to get some deals on everything including the shelves.

New Vintage on Chicago

A fun and funky new vintage shop opened its doors today in West Town. Seek Vintage, on the hip strip of West Chicago Avenue that's home to Lush Wine, Beauty Bar, and Relax Lounge, might be your new go-to spot for analog radios and kitschy aprons. Opening festivities continue until 8pm tonight.

Dishwashers Flying off the Shelves

Illinois' cash-for-appliances program, which took effect at 8am today, might already be tapped.

Home of the Reviled

This American Life last weekend told the story of Magnetar Capital, one of the worst of the hedge funds that capitalized on subprime mortgages. Interestingly, the home of Magnetar's CEO, Alec Litowitz, was featured in Chicago Home in 2008.

Groupon: $1.2 Billion Company?

TechCrunch reports that Groupon has received investment that would value the company at $1.2 billion. Meanwhile, the clone army marches on.

Beyond the Bleachers

With Wrigley Field and its surroundings in the news so much recently, perhaps it's worth remembering what the Sheffield Avenue rooftops looked like in 1987 compared to what they look like now.

Get a New T-Sh✶rt

Local artist and designer Greg Dressel recently, um, designed a new Chicago themed t-shirt which you can buy right now in a variety of colors. Of course, if you're feeling the Chicago fabric love, don't forget GB's very own t-shirts.

The Power of Groupon

Groupon has become such a force to be reckoned that Inc. Magazine has a how-to article explaining how businesses can take advantage of it.

Beer Tumblers

Glassblower Nick Paul opens up the necks of beer and soda bottles and sells them as neat recycled glassware. [via]

Sleep(walk)ing around River North

Ever watch the Amazing Race and think you could do it -- if it weren't for the jetlag? Take part in the River North Sleep Around Challenge, and you won't even need to leave the 312 area code. The Challenge Starts at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza and ends up at Martini Park. Along the way, there are stops at seven hotels that will provide challenges and refreshments. Lots of prizes will be offered. Tickets available from the River North Business Association.

Storage by Mail

When it's just too much hassle to get to a storage facility, Plainfield's Storage by the Box has an interesting solution: mail it there.

Protecting Dignitaries on the Southwest Side

...Not from it. Heat Armor bullet-proofs -- and, increasingly, IED-proofs -- vehicles for clients around the world from a compound not far from Midway.

5040 Greenwood Sold

The Obamas' have some new neighbors moving in next door. The Kenwood mansion sold for a paltry $1.4 million.

Track Those Expenses

Apparently Chicago is a hotbed for mobile web expense trackers. Joining TextHog in that market is ProOnGo, which lets you auto-fill your expense reports.

U of C Dorm to Apartments

The Shoreland Hotel, once housing for University of Chicago students, is now set to become apartments. The developer that bought the historic building in 2008 for $16 million has hired Jeanne Gang, the same architect behind Aqua, for the apartment conversion.

From Steel to Residential Community?

Thirteen thousand five hundred homes, 800,000 square feet of retail, and tons of non-toxic slag... what's not to love? The Sun Times discusses a rezoning possibility for the former site of U.S. Steel's South Works plant.

A Loop Grocery Store

Milwaukee-based grocery chain Roundy's plans to open a grocery store in the Loop next year. It'll be called Mariano's, after the company's CEO -- who used to run Dominick's before it was purchased by Safeway.

Where to Work

If you work at one of these companies, congrats, Crain's says you're at one of the best in Chicagoland.

Cakegirls Building Fire

An early morning fire has destroyed the building that houses Cakegirls bakery at 2207 W. Belmont Ave. A residential fire started on the second floor at about 5:30am and was brought under control by 7:00am but the Chicago Fire Department judge the building a total loss.

Fighting Over the Sheridan Plaza Hotel: Home of the Cubs

Horizon Realty Group, the firm that gave the world the gift of the (dismissed) twitter lawsuit, is back in court. This time, the firm is suing Landmarks Illinois because it doesn't want to rebuild part of a historic hotel wall. Seen in the lower right of this photograph, the wall was once part of a ballroom and is part of a preservation easement.

The Mystery of the Purchased Seat

In offbeat literary news, mystery novel author Mary Higgins Clark recently purchased a seat on the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

Rotten Deal for Workers' Rights

In Mechanics today: Local grocer Pete's Fresh Market serves food deserts -- but does it serve its own workers?

Missing Puppies!

This just in: The iconic sign for Let's Pet Puppies has been taken down. A call to the store reveals that it's gone in preparation for a move. "We're downsizing due to the economy; that store is just too big," says owner "Susan." They've yet to find a new location, but promise that the sign will go back up.

You've Got 30 Seconds

Have a good elevator speech? It could win you some cash in a contest from the City Treasurer. The catch is, you have until 5am Friday to enter.

Bleeding Heart Takes on Yelp

Bleeding Heart Bakery is the most recent party to one of three lawsuits [pdf] against the review site yelp. They're even making anti-yelp cupcakes in celebration.

Groupon Paying it Forward

Start up tech companies may have a helping hand from a local success story. Lightbank, a new investment fund, was recently set up by Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, the brains behind "collective buying" deal-of-the-day site Groupon, to funnel as much as $10 million annually into early-stage tech entrepreneurial ventures.

Undercapitalized and in Trouble ... but Deserving

The award winning and community based ShoreBank has serious problems, but a small group of foundations and banks may save it. By the way, if you ever edit wikipedia entries, ShoreBank's could use some updating.

Perhaps Another Reason McCormick Place is in Trouble

A "reputed mobster" has been charged with rigging contracts at the convention center.

Local Biz in the News

Busy Beaver Button Co. was profiled by WCIU this week, and Threadless founder Jake Nickell was interviewed for Fox Business Channel.

Benefits of Closing the Locks?

While many tour and shipping companies are concerned about the proposed closing of Chicago area locks, others see a sliver lining through the potential construction of intermodal terminals and other infrastructure investments.

Working for Wal-Mart

Chicagoist continues its coverage of Wal-Mart in Chicago, beginning a three-part series today with a look at the company's employment practices.

Time Out Chicago Now Owned By Chicagoan

Chicagoan and Morningstar Founder and CEO Joe Mansueto is now the majority stakeholder in Time Out Chicago.

Next Groupon: 40% Off Legal Services?

Groupon is the subject of a new lawsuit over the expiration dates on some of its coupons. In response, Groupon is organizing a class action against itself.

Thrifty Tips

Two New Yorkers visited Andersonville and shared ideas for shopping for cool thrift store finds, antiques, and DIY make-overs that won't break the bank. (via)

Times Looking Even Worse for the Spire

While the Mine the Gap competition plugs along, Shelbourne Development, the developer of the Chicago Spire, is in the news for all the wrong reasons again. This time the problem is they haven't paid their credit card bills. They also seem to have some troubles with their web security.

No Longer Just "Upstairs" vs "Downstairs"

The Trib reviews recent research on the disparities in compensation, working conditions and demographic characteristics for those who work in the front of the restaurant compared to those who work in the back.

Welcome To The Chicago-Based Family

There's some buzz about Footnoted.org, a financial news site that covers S.E.C. filings, which was acquired by Chicago-based Morningstar. Since its acquisition the site has begun hiring a few new reporters.

Spreading Like a Plague

The Cubs are the newest ambassadors of our Tax Increment Financing system in Arizona, where they are proposing a TIF to fund the construction of their new spring training stadium.

Fund Your Startup

ScaleWell is offering a $1000 grant and downtown office space to entrepreneurs with awesome ideas.

Shagadelic

Hey, do you like colorful, cartoonishly illustrated visions of consumerism, with a heavy dash of 1960's and a hearty sprinkling of monsters? You do? Have you checked out Shag's new exhibit at Rotofugi?

I Guess "They" Don't Like Email Flood Attacks

Kevin Trudeau is up to a pile of shenanigans involving a Chicago court.

Walgreens Takes Revenge

Walgreens is buying NYC pharmacy chain Duane Reade, avenging the death of Marshall Field's at the hands of Macy's... except that they're keeping the Duane Reede name. Dammit.

Down Payment on Drinks

Drinks Over Dearborn is trying to raise money to stay open with an interesting proposal; if you're likely to spend $100 on booze or mixology classes in the next few months, why not pay it in advance? [via]

Obama Connection Not Enough to Save Maria Pinto

Designer Maria Pinto, who rose to fame for clothing Michelle Obama and Oprah, is closing her West Loop boutique and filing for bankruptcy, citing "soft buying trends at the top end of the apparel market."

Got a Nice Neighbor?

The Chicago Association of Realtors is accepting nominations for its annual Good Neighbor Awards, by which it actually means properties or developments that have bettered the neighborhood. Nominations are due by Feb. 22.

Indulge Your Ghoulish Side

Berwyn's Horrorbles is a mecca for horror flick collectibles. [via]

Welcome to Your New Home, Dow Jones

The best-known name on Wall Street is a Chicagoan now that the CME is to have a 90% stake in Dow Jones Indexes.

9 Seconds of Fame

Did you catch Tim of Tim's Baseball Card Shop in that Super Bowl commercial? The store was hopping all weekend.

Squeezing Out Savings

A Fresh Squeeze, a guide to "healthy clean living" in Chicago, has launched the Squeeze Card, which gets you discounts on sustainable products and services. It's just $10 for the year.

Reducing Brand Diversity

Crain's examines the relationship between Lake Forest packing product company Pactiv and Wal-Mart while exploring shelf space competition between brand name and private label products.

The Groupon Challenge

Think you can live off Groupon for a year? If you succeed, you could win $100,000.

Daley Loves Portland?

Think Chicago's taxes are high? They're better than Portland, Oregon's -- and the mayor sees it as a competitive advantage. (Link goes to Google News to avoid WSJ's paywall.)

Less Notes / Thread Field

Threadless and Coudal Partners have joined forces (like Voltron) to create a special set of Field Notes. You can win a set of your own this weekend in their lil contest.

$366 Million of Traffic Management

The north-south leg of Wacker Drive will get an overhaul over the next three years, after which automotive and pedestrian traffic should move more efficiently. The state estimates 4,000 jobs will be created by the project.

Giannoulias Family Bank Under Fire

On the verge of the Illinois primary elections, Broadway Bank, owned by the family of state treasurer and senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, is facing increased scrutiny from regulators. UPDATE: Chicago Current has a response from Giannoulias.

A Different Kind of Mashup

Greg Kot sat down with Jam Productions cofounder Jerry Mickelson to discuss the recent decision that allows the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

Logan Square Lookout

Yesterday Apartment Therapy's House Tours section featured FofGB George and Sara Aye's beautiful Logan Square home. You might remember George shot amazing photos from Pitchfork in Transmission in years past, and the couple run the company Hubwear, among other projects.

Electric Cars of the Future, Today

Tesla Motors officially opened the doors on its Chicago dealership over the weekend.

Swiftboat Vets for Wal-Mart

Chicagoist's Kevin Robinson did some digging into ourcommunityourchoice.com, a site promoting bringing Wal-Mart to Chatham, and discovered it's not a grass-roots community organization at all: it's backed by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and Wal-Mart.

Ford Brings 1200 Jobs to South Side -- with a Catch

The good news: Ford will add 1200 new jobs at its South Side factory as it ramps up production of its new Explorer SUV. The bad news: Most of those jobs will be at a much lower wage with fewer benefits than before.

South Side Explorer

While Illinois unemployment continues to climb, 1,200 jobs will soon be added to Ford's Chicago Assembly plant, where production of Explorers will soon join the Taurus.

Chicago Is Very 'Fortune'ate

Looking to land a gig with one of Fortune magazine's top 100 companies to work for? Forget moving. You can do that right here.

Chicago School Under Fire

John Cassidy interviewed eight Chicago School economists about the financial crisis for the New Yorker.

Turn Down the Heat!

Following a new ruling by the Illinois Commerce Commission, Peoples Gas customers will be paying about $50 more a year for service.

Men Anpil Chay Pa Lou

...which translates to "Many Hands Make the Load Lighter." It's a new t-shirt from Threadless, and 100 percent of its proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross, up to $100,000.

Crafty Cards FTW

For those creatively inclined Valentine's Day lovers, Andersonville and Lakeview card and frame shops Foursided and Twosided want to see your best handmade Valentine's cards. Winner gets $50 gift certificate. Deadline 2/7. Details and rules.

Chicago Keeps Helping Haiti

If you have to choose between fun and donating to Haiti, you may be able to do both. We posted earlier about restaurants donating to relief. Helping in the Wake of the Quake was organized mostly through Twitter to donate to Heartland Alliance. And Crain's Chicago Business has another round-up of local businesses donating when you shop with them.

Goodbye Kerasotes, Mostly

The Chicago-based Kerasotes movie theater chain is selling all but three of its locations to AMC. One that it's not letting go of: the new Showcase ICON in the South Loop.

But Will it Scale?

Got an interesting idea for a tech start-up? Scale Well wants to give you $1000 and some co-working space to help get you traction.

State Street to be Targeted

Target is considering putting a store in the Carson Pirie Scott Building on State Street.

Chengdu to Chicago, Fashionably

Windy City Times talks to Chicago resident and Project Runway contestant Ping Wu about knitting, Tim Gunn, and designing for frigid climes.

Need a New Chair?

How about William Wrigley III's? After all, it's on Craigslist.

Selling it at Sears

Last week, Sears announced that it would launch an "online marketplace" that would allow third parties, including rivals, to sell products on its website. Turns out it's not the only new web strategy Sears has up its sleeve.

Mustard Girl Tells All!

North suburban resident Jennifer Connor, the girl in Mustard Girl, shared the birth of her mustard company on The Story yesterday. There's also a pretty good story about cowbells in there too.

"No one is getting anything that they want"

Speaking of Wal-Mart, the City Council Finance Committee is delaying legislation that could affect the wages the company pays.

Singular or Plural?

Suburban apparel company American Needle (and its loud website) is involved in a big time lawsuit with the NFL that could determine whether or not the NFL is a single entity or 32 entities.

Chicago's Neighborhood Economies Slow to Rise

Business is still slow in Chicago's satellite commerce centers, like Devon Avenue, and forecasts call for a slow rise in 2010.

Human Powered

GoHuman is a startup attempting to create "a marketplace for local services," ranging from computer consulting to auto repair to knitting classes.

Ever Wanted to Own an Apple Store?

If so, you're in luck.

Clothes at a Steal

Just-launched Fashion Heist focuses on "making fashion attainable." Become their friend on Facebook and/or Twitter and get a deal on your first order. [via]

Daley: More Wal-Marts in Chicago!

The mayor floats and idea sure to be as popular as the parking meter privatization deal. Hopefully we'll get a chance to discuss it a little longer than that one.

Swatching Politics

Diehard Democrats may want to check out this commemorative Swatch watch from the 1996 Democratic Convention in Chicago.

Work Here, Don't Work There

If you count Caterpillar as a Chicago area company, Chicago comes in even on this list of the 50 best and 50 worst companies to work for in 2009 according to Glassdoor.com, a job-hunting site. On the best list: Kraft (#12), CareerBuilder (#26) and CAT (#35). On the worst: United (#2), KMart (#15) and Panduit (#17).

Swooping In with a Discount

Groupon competitor YouSwoop officially launches Thursday. Crain's Enterprise City has an interview with founder Alexander Lurie.

Still Shopping for the Holidays?

If so, you're in luck if you want to pick up some handmade goodies for gifts. The Indie Arts Market will take place on Saturday at Schuba's Tavern and Christkindlmarket runs until Christmas Eve. But after that? You may be stuck buying gift cards at the grocery store.

Adopt a Seurat Dot

If these gift guides didn't grab you, perhaps you'd like to surprise the art lover in your life by adopting one of the dots in "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte." The Art Institute is celebrating that painting's 125th birthday with this unique fundraiser. They'll send you a commemorative button in the color of your dot and a description of its location on the painting. Order your dot with this PDF form.

Gift Guide A-Go-Go

We've (mostly) just been posting interesting gift ideas as we find them, but plenty of other publications are getting all formal about it. Here are gift guides from Chicagoist, The Reader, Time Out Chicago, New City, Chicago Magazine and Chicago Free Press.

Hole May Become Spire After All

Despite months of trouble, the Chicago Spire's construction may resume shortly if a proposed deal between the development company and union funds goes through.

Bye Bye, Nokia

The Nokia flagship store on Michigan Avenue will be leaving the Magnificent Mile as it retools its overall business strategy. Experiences like this might be part of the problem.

Handmade Chicago

About 30 of the city's greatest makers of handmade goods will be gathering this Saturday at Empty Bottle for another Handmade Market. The sellers will help you you pick out a few gifts for others, or yourself. And one of the best parts of this show is that you get to sip a tall frosty something while you peruse fantastic products. If you don't leave with full shopping bags, you may leave inspired, or at least a little tipsy.

Hop On The Bus

Super-cheap travel purveyor Megabus is currently offering free fares for the first 100,000 people to book trips between Jan. 6 and March 10, 2010, using promotional code "GETAWAY." Even with a 50 cent booking fee, you could get across the country for less than a CTA ride. [via]

Goodbye, Moto?

24/7 Wall Street lists Motorola as one of its 10 brands likely to disappear in 2010.

The Photographic Bean

The Bean, a 5MP carabiner camera made by suburban-based Argus, fits the adage "the best camera is the one that's with you." Its little cousin, the BeanSprout, is just $14.99 on Target.com in either yellow or red.

No 'Block' Party

The New York Times picks up on the troubled existence and continuing saga of the Block 37 project, despite the recent opening of the Puma flagship store there.

Long Live the Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom, an eccentric pet store and animal rental business in Hermosa that once supplied many of the trained animals for local TV shows, is closing in December. Stop by for a blast from the past (and a sale on all pets in the shop).

Documenting Consumer Chaos

If you're going to be out and about with a camera tomorrow, perhaps you should consider contributing to the Picture Black Friday project.

Your Ride's On Them

To entice shoppers to Andersonville this holiday season, the Chamber of Commerce is offering reimbursements for parking or CTA rides up to the neighborhood if you spend $20 in a local store. Details online.

Horseshoe Not So Lucky in Wrigley Field

In a particularly aggressive move, the Cubs erected blank billboards to block a competing billboard located on a nearby building.

Can United Save its Reputation?

At least it's giving it the old college try. Oh, and disregard the giant but totally unrelated Sears photograph.

Forget Black Friday, Shop This Weekend

So many opportunities to do your holiday shopping hand-made/local/independent this weekend! Come say hi to Gapers Block at the DIY Trunk Show this Saturday; pick up cool student art at SAIC's annual holiday show; or peruse the Modern Vintage Holiday Market for neat vintage stuff.

Logan Square Gets a Record Store

Logan Square denizens may be excited to know that they have a new neighborhood record store as of today. It's run by the folks behind Chicago Independent Distribution.

More Bad News for Block 37

Joseph Freed & Associates will lose control of Block 37, despite the development's scheduled opening this month.

South Side Has the 2nd Highest Unemployment Rate

The South Side's unemployment rate is the second highest in the nation according to census data analyzed by the Chicago Reporter.

2 Conventions Leave Chicago

It seems Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (AKA McPier) is struggling to keep high revenue-generating conventions in Chicago, with the Society of Plastics Industry and the Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society moving their conventions to less costly locations. Dennis Byrne at Chicago Now has an idea of who's to blame. Meanwhile McPier, which manages conventions and trade shows at McCormick Place and Navy Pier, isn't doing so well themselves.

Graduate Student Strike at UIUC

Members of the Graduate Employees Organization at UIUC are on strike after contract negotiations broke down over tuition waivers.

Selling Convenience

As Crain's says, "MillerCoors needs the quickie mart," and particularly so in Chicago.

Chicago Cheer

The holidays are coming, and what better way to show your spirit for the season and the city with these charming Chicago Flag Snowflake cards from local paper good entrepreneurs 16 Sparrows.

Clearing the Streets, Inc. Won't Work

Mayor Daley tried to answer calls for comprehensive snow removal through private bidding on side street clearance, but that didn't work. He promises overtime and some creative responses will get the job done.

Pop-up Poster Shop

Ork Posters is turning its studio into a temporary poster shop for the holidays -- details in A/C.

A-Ha!™

Apparently, Mutual of Omaha and Oprah are no longer sparring over the use of the phrase "a-ha."

A Haul Not Quite Worth its Weight in Gold

A criminal crew got creative on the North Side Monday night by attempting to break into a jewelry store via the beauty shop next door . They didn't make it into the jewelers, but they made off with some beauty products, prompting some pretty funny one-liners at the end of the article.

Sonotheque Sold

If you were wondering why Chicago's Sonotheque club has no show dates after 11/15, well here's your answer -- the venue's been sold, according to Time Out. Will it become another of the new owner's Beauty Bar outposts? Only time will tell.

Change Your Password

Mark Swimmer would like to remind you that your default phone system password is not secure.

If it's Tuesday, it Must be eBay

The eBay Mobile Boutique will be at the Wrigley Building, 400 N. Michigan Ave., on Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 10-11, from 11am to 6pm. Folks'll be on hand to help you search, shop and ship for the holidays.

Save Evil Squirrel

And get half off comics at the same time.

Wave Your Craft Geek Flag High

Or just throw it on the couch. With pillows like these from local crafter Beth Cummings of Diffraction Fiber, you can lie on your city pride. These pillows are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles so they're extra great. So are some of these other ones she'll be selling at the DIY Trunk Show on November 21st.

A New Hope for Block 37?

Despite Block 37's problems, the development announced 13 new leases, including a few Chicago companies like Bleeding Heart Bakery, the Comic Vault and local designers.

Crain's 40 Under 40 -- Now with 100% More GB!

Crain's Chicago Business just announced its annual 40 Under 40 list, and our very own Andrew Huff was selected as one of the luminaries. Congratulations, Andrew!

A Shoe Thing

Oprah viewers can save 50% off their entire purchase at Payless ShoeSource through close of business on Friday, Oct. 30 with this coupon.

Energy for the Shark Tank

Element Bars, a local customizable energy bar company, got a big boost from a recent appearance on the reality show "Shark Tank."

Bye-Bye Kiddieland. Hello Costco?

That's right: The former Kiddieland site may be the Chicago area's 13th Costco.

Get Your Halloween Costume from The Joffrey Ballet

We have Joffrey Ballet's first-ever costume sale on the calendar for tomorrow, because that's when it's free, but for $20 you can get a preview and first pick tonight from 5:30 to 8:30pm.

Changing Hands

Two venerable Chicago institutions officially have new owners: the Sun-Times and the Cubs.

LX365

Will the Trib be able to woo luxury advertisers? It hopes LX365 will make it happen.

Saving ShoreBank

Despite ShoreBank's international leadership role in community-oriented banking, it is facing serious problems.

Jewel No Longer "Urban Fresh"

Jewel's Urban Fresh market, part of its strategy to compete in a more specialized grocery field, will close by the end of the month.

New Developments at Michael Reese Hospital

While demolition preparation continues for nearly all of the Michael Reese campus, the city is considering keeping one Gropius building, the Singer Pavilion.

The Curse of Block 37?

Guess which downtown development may be heading towards foreclosure.

Nice, Um, CGI...

The Sears Tower is the centerpiece of this magnificent commercial rendering. Enjoy. (P.S. Call it what you will, but I'm sticking with "Sears Tower" for now.)

Looking Back at the Republic Windows Strike

In Mechanics, Sheila Burt talks with author Kari Lyderson about her new book on the takeover of the Republic Windows and Doors factory by laid off workers and its place in labor rights history.

Time to Reassess "If you build it, they will come"

There are dozens of multimillion dollar homes for sale throughout the region, and they're not selling. Two standouts are a suburban castle and a home named "Villa Taj" that will soon be auctioned.

What's Going on with Market Hall?

The FBI wants to know what happened to the $1.1 million Illinois FIRST grant given to the Historic Pullman Foundation for the still unrestored Market Hall.

Order from Amazon, Get it Same Day

Do you really need that thing you just ordered on Amazon today? For an extra fee, Amazon now offers same-day Express Shipping.

More Trouble for the Chicago Spire

Well, the Spire isn't done for yet, but its developer is in the news again. This time, its sales center is facing eviction.

Shawnimals' Stache Stash Released

Shawnimals just released a blind bag series of Moustachio "pocket stache" plush dolls, including a pirate mustache! Perfect for Halloween disguises.

Michelle Obama's Plastic Arms

Jailbreak Toys has now immortalized Michelle as well as Barack as action figures.

Threadless Founder Goes Culinary

Crain's has an interview with skinnyCorp co-founder Jacob DeHart who's launching a new startup business website later this month: CulinaryCulture.com.

T-shirt with Everything

Woot's t-shirt today depicts hot dogs from around the country, with Chicago style getting prime placement. Makes sense, since the designer went to school here.

A Few Chicagoans are Still Rich

The economy may be in the tank, but 18 Chicago-area residents made the Forbes 400 list.

Po Campo for Mo Fashion

Whether you're a fashionable diva who occasionally takes a Sunday bike ride for joy, or a professional dame who commutes to work, you'll find the work of Maria and Emily who co-own Po Campo tres magnifique. Beautifully stylish bags for attaching to your bike handlebars or rack and available at a dozen local shops. Designed and manufactured right here in Chicago to help you buy local.

The "smartest new corporate hotel in ages"

If you're looking for a downtown getaway, the new boutique hotel The Wit got a not too shabby review in the NY Times.

Maybe Grandma Should Stay at Home

Illinois is known for a lot of great things, but one of them isn't nursing homes.

Steppenwolf is Great to Work With

Steppenwolf isn't just a good place to see a show -- it's apparently also a great place to work. The Wall Street Journal named the theater one of this year's Top Small Workplaces. Radio Flyer made the list as well. [via]

They're Baaaaacckk

The Chia Obama is returning to Chicago. Protests led Walgreens to drop it, but it looks like CVS is going to give it a shot.

Order Now to Riches

Crain's profiles Lori Greiner, a local entrepreneur who's made a mint selling stuff on QVC.

Cut Rate Condos

Looking to snap up some cheap property? Or maybe just get a glimpse of just how much of a discount nearby units are going for? CondoShark has your answer.

Finding New Ways to Frustrate Citizens

It's hard to believe, but there's a new catch in the parking meter deal: When parking meters are removed or their hours reduced, somebody has to make up for the loss.

Check Out My Bag

Freitag bags are pretty cool, but they're also pretty expensive. Check out Defy bags instead: besides being local, you can customize the flap with whatever you can come up with and send to them as a jpg.

900 Rallied, 200 Arrested in Support of Hotel Workers

Approximately 900 Unite Here Local 1 workers and supporters rallied for strengthened negotiations with local hoteliers as well as for recently fired non-union hotel workers in Boston. The 200 arrestees sat in Chicago Avenue in front of the Park Hyatt.

Fine Prints from The Fineprint

The Fineprint makes some pretty sweet Chicago-themed t-shirts and other gear. I'm particularly fond of this one.

Taking Cover Behind the Government

The state's liquor tax increase is pushing alcohol prices higher -- but not nearly as high as wholesalers would like you to think.

That Should Be on a T-shirt

You've heard that before, right? Coin That Phrase wants to help you make it a reality.

Help Them Bag an Award

Chicago-based ReusableBags.com is a finalist for Green Business of the Year in Green America's 2009 People's Choice Awards. Help them win by voting today.

Mapping Power and Influence

A Who's Who in Chicago business list may not sound particularly interesting to those outside the business world, but Crain's social networking map makes it worth a gander.

Chicago Designers at Fashion Week

Two Chicago designers will debut their Spring 2010 collections tomorrow at Fashion Week in NYC. Maria Pinto will show at Banchet Flowers from 6-9 pm and Lara Miller's work will appear at King of Greene St at 11 am as part of a two-day event showcasing sustainable fashion.

Looking for Somewhere New to Go?

The Pilsen Community Market will be hosting a community garage sale for the next two Sundays on a vacant lot at 18th and Peoria.

Vote for the Blue Buddha

Rebeca Mojica started Blue Buddha Boutique after a successful PR career, a sojourn in Germany, and a curious run-in with chainmaille. Got that? Since, the Chicago company's gone gangbusters creating handmade jewelry, educating the masses, and supporting local causes. They're now nominated as an "inspiring small business" in the Shine A Light competition from American Express and NBC Universal, in the running for up to $100,000 in grants and marketing support. Learn more and endorse them (before Sunday the 13th) by following the instructions here.

"Good luck, Chicago..."

The Trib is reporting that Bill Davies, the individual who purchased the post office last month, may not be the most reputable businessman.

The Oprah Bounce

Say what you will about what the recent Oprahpalooza on Michigan Ave. did to your morning commute, some of the retailers in the area are saying that having Ms. Winfrey on their street worked out well for their bottom line.

Testing Chicago's Consumer Confidence

Tonight is Fashion's Night Out, Vogue magazine Editor-in-Chief's Anna Wintour international attempt to drive retail fashion. Although based in New York (naturally), Chicago has a few events and trunk shows lined up.

"Hijacking Assets" May be Illegal

The Revolt on Goose Island may be over, but it looks like official problems for former Republic Windows & Doors officials may just be beginning.

Have $2.6 Million on Hand?

Then you may want to consider buying Al Capone's Wisconsin retreat. It has "407 secluded acres with a 37-acre private lake, an eight-car garage and a guard tower."

Happy 09/09/09!

In honor of this calendrical curiosity, Threadless has made all its shirts $9 for the day. Enjoy!

Local Businessmen Make an Offer on Sun-Times

A group of investors including the CEO of Mesirow Financial has made a bid to purchase the Sun Times Media Group. UPDATE: And the next day, the Sun-Times management cut wages above $25,000 by 8 percent.

Robot Shop

One of the greatest things about living in a big city like Chicago is that if you've got a niche interest, there's probably a store for you. Such as Robot City Workshop, your source for anything and everything robot.

Confirmed: Low Wage Jobs Are Bad Jobs

A new study from researchers at UIC and elsewhere confirms that, among other problems, 25% of workers earn below minimum wage, 70% don't get the meal breaks they should, and half of bosses illegally retaliate when complaints are made.

The O Factor

According to the chief economist of the Australian Trade Commission, Chicago has three Os.

Outfitting Your iPhone

Appolicious is a Chicago-based social networking-ish site that helps you find the right app for your iPhone -- or whatever phone you have.

All Your Michigan Avenue Are Belong to Oprah

Speaking of shopping, if you're thinking about spending time on Michigan Avenue from Wacker Drive to Ohio Street anytime between Monday and Wednesday morning, the street will be closed to vehicular traffic in order to tape Oprah's new season kickoff. If you want to get in on the O action, the show will begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday and will be free and open to all. You can scope out the best seats ahead of time by reviewing this map [pdf] of the event.

Shopping Elsewhere

South Siders are shopping less often in their own neighborhoods, a study by the Chicago Reporter and Chicago Public Radio found. The reasons are complicated, but one reason stands out: stores are following the white people.

Button Down Interview

In A/C, Lindsay Muscato talks with Busy Beaver owner Christen Carter about how she got started and the company's new store.

Getting Jobs

The good news: Chicago's unemployment rate went down in July.
The bad news: It's still up nearly five points over last year.

Coal-Fired Power Plants Challenged

Midwest Generation, LLC, the Edison International subsidiary that runs the Fisk and Crawford coal-burning power plants on the South Side (and four others in Illinois), is being sued by the state and U.S. EPA for allegedly upgrading systems without meeting current Clean Air Act controls.

Going, Going, Gone

If you've ever had the desire to see a 2.7-million-square-foot post office auctioned, head to the Intercontinental Chicago O'Hare Hotel in Rosemont by 1pm today. UPDATE: The building sold for $40 million to an as-yet unknown bidder, Chicago Real Estate Daily reports.

Woot! Robots!

Chris Ware fans had better head on over to shirt.woot.com right now; a limited edition T-shirt featuring Ware's artwork is on sale for today only.

The Reader's New Owners

A bankruptcy judge ruled this morning that Atalaya Capital Management made the winning bid for Creative Loafing, the corporate parent of the Reader. Here's a little background on their new overlords, and comments from now-former owner Ben Eason.

$22.5 Billion for Chicago?

Daley's estimate of that the Olympics will provide $22.5 billion in direct and indirect economic benefits to the Chicago region is being greeted with signifiant skepticism.

Hecho en Chicago

No Manches is a t-shirt company specializing in designs with cultural relevance to Latin Americans -- but I think just about Chicagoan can get behind this shirt.

At Least We Didn't Lose That Much

The heiress to the General Growth fortune recently lost $1.7 billion, $300 million of which she figures is the fault of a local law firm.

Local Companies to Know

Twenty-three Chicagoland businesses made the Inc. 500 list this year; an additional 201 Illinois companies made the expanded Inc. 5,000.

Political History for Sale

Well, "history" may be a strong word, but Tony Rezko's 8,400-square-foot mansion just sold at auction for $2.8 million. Even after the sale, Rezko still owes more than $3 million on the house.

North Siders Get Together

Want to get to know the Near North a bit better? The Local Tourist is hosting a meet & greet on Sept. 1, and you're invited. Pay a little extra for the swag bag and help out two great causes.

MSNEveryBloCk

EveryBlock, the Chicago-based news and public information aggregator, has been acquired by MSNBC.com. Crain's has some more detail.

The Spire Looking Less Likely

The Spire is drilling its way back into the headlines with a new lawsuit brought by Bank of America against Shelbourne Development for its failure to repay $4.9 million.

Now I See Why They Need the Balloon Ride

The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, aka McPier, is in big financial trouble. Last month, the group needed $18.8 million from the state to make a bond payment.

How Much is a Free Paper Worth?

Mechanics occasional contributor Mike Fourcher breaks down the numbers in the Creative Loafing (owners of the Chicago Reader) bankruptcy sale. [via] More from Michael Miner regarding Creative Loafings' owners' bid.

Chicago Week Today: Dmitry Samarov

"O'Hare Staging Area #10," by Dmitry Samarov, is the first in a series of five works to be featured during Chicago Week, a collaboration between GB and Wall Blank. Each print will be available for one week through Wall Blank, with 10% of the proceeds benefiting Chicago Artists' Coalition. Check A/C every day this week for a new piece by and interview with a Chicago artist.

Look Sharp for that Interview

A stylist at Salon 64 in Edgewater is offering free haircuts for the unemployed. Full details here. (Thanks, Veronica!)

Some Fine T-shirts

The Fineprint has some neat t-shirts for showing Chicago pride. Case in point: this shirt featuring a takeoff of Harold's Chicken Shack's famous "dude chasing after a chicken with a meat cleaver" logo. [via]

Advertisements Creeping onto the Playing Field

The Bears' practice jerseys feature a prominently placed advertisement, and there's some question about where the ads will stop.

Too Many Banks Makes Chicago a Dull Boy

As a stroll down any major street will tell you, Chicago is "heavily overbanked." Fortunately, that probably means we won't be getting many more banks anytime soon. Oh, and there's a bonus unrelated article at the end of the piece too.

One Way to Make Money in Roseland

"It's a blighted area, underutilized with vacant buildings." So clearly the answer is for the city to sell five acres to a developer for $1 so he can build new buildings.

This One Goes to 11 155

New Chicago-based microblogging service Wooxie allows 155 characters instead of 140, and offers a photo gallery. We're testing it out.

Chicago Thrift Store Tours, Part 1: Driving

Economic woes? Hipster aspirations? Check out part one of this Chicago thrift store guide.

Pining for the Fireside Bowl

Hey, Chicago music/bowling fans! Just a few hours left to order a special shirt titled "Bring Back the Fireside" at RIPT Apparel. [via]

Looking Past the Loop

Beyond the Pedway is a weekly video interview of local businesses, produced by Tim Jahn.

Indylist Goes Big Time

Local independent business resource Indylist is going national. So after you've had some fun at the GB Get Together, head over to Moxie to celebrate with the staff.

Wal-Mart Gets Applause

"We believe strongly that everyone should have access to affordable health insurance. Everyone." That line from a Wal-Mart executive at the National Council of La Raza convention here last weekend got big applause. And WBEZ is getting calls from Wal-Mart trying to stop the clapping.

PayPal Alternative

Not a fan of PayPal or Google Checkout? Local startup mPayy might be your solution.

Now That's an, Um, Collectable

A Chicago-area company is producing a diamond ... from Michael Jackson's hair.

One Gutsy Applicant

Leah took her job search to the streets.

Who's Innovating?

Just a couple more days for Chicago Innovation Awards nominations.

Taurus, With Hopes Rising

The latest version of the Ford Taurus has workers at a South Side auto plant keeping their fingers crossed that it becomes a hit. If it's a success with the public, it could mean more jobs at the Torrance Ave. factory.

Talkin' Fancy Bikes

In other sports news, John Greenfield of Vote with Your Feet recently interviewed Stephen Schier, co-owner of Lincoln Park's Dutch Bike Co. Chicago, about the shop, why he opened a store in Chicago and the future of European cycles in the U.S.

Modification Mania

Chicago homeowners staring down foreclosure can access free help and perhaps on-site loan modifications at McCormick Place this weekend.

In Business

If you run a small business, you might want to give yourself a long lunch and visit the City Treasurer's Small Business Expo today. It's free, and runs till 3:30.

Finish Him!!!

Midway Games, the company behind the Mortal Kombat video games, is closing its Chicago HQ and firing 60 employees. Fatality. Brutality.

Jake Takes a Hit

As FoGB Annie said, "I've never seen the NYT take a Chicago retailer down like this."

Wow, That's Some Relief

Thanks, Jewel!

Ivy Green, Pinstripe Blue

Think you're the ultimate Cubs fan? Not until you paint your home with Valspar's limited edition paints.

In the Market for a Second Home in Chicago?

If so, you're not alone ... even if the strip mall vacancy rate is nearly 11%.

Heartbreak Hotel

Some Midlothian residents are not thrilled by the prospect of a "couples only" hotel going up in their village.

The Unprinted Blog

The Printed Blog has ceased publication. Brandon Copple of Crain's talks to founder Josh Karp about the project and his advice to entrepreneurs.

When Weather.com isn't Good Enough

When the weather forecast is too vague, institutions from the city to universities are calling on private meteorologists to take some of the uncertainty out of the day.

EveryBlock for Any Block

EveryBlock's Knight grant ran out yesterday, and on that momentous occasion, they released the source code for the platform, allowing anyone to produce a similar site for their town. Read my profile of the company and their future plans in Chicago magazine.

25¢ = $520

The Illinois minimum wage will inch up 25¢ tomorrow to $8, 75¢ more than the new national minimum wage that goes into effect in July. For full-time minimum wage employees, that means an additional $520 a year in earnings.

Redlining Became Sub-Prime

The Chicago Report found that Wells Fargo gave high-earning black Chicagoans more sub-prime loans than it did to less wealthy whites -- and wonders why the City isn't suing.

Foreclosure Manor

A $19.3 million Barrington Hills estate called Horizon Farm just went into foreclosure, although it doesn't look like the owners are giving up anytime soon. The estate was in the news a few years ago when its sale was discussed as a way to save rare suburban farm, among other things.

We're the Best Around

Chicago is really making a name for itself in financial fraud. Last year there was Wextrust, and these days we have the Webio scandal and a recently exposed $300M ponzi scheme at one Lake Shore Asset Management. If this keeps up it may even rival our sterling political record.

The Webio Plot Thickens

Webio founder David Hernandez was reported missing by his wife one day after the feds announced an investigation into Webio and other companies.

Psst, Wanna Buy a Post Office?

After failing to sell the former main post office over the Eisenhower, the U.S. Postal Service is auctioning it off. The suggested opening bid is $300,000, although there is no minimum. That's right, you can potentially own 2.5 million-square-feet of historic space for a little more than Chicago's median home price.

RIPT Apparel

Launched today, RIPT Apparel is a Chicago-based t-shirt retailer selling one-of-a-kind shirts designed by a community of artists. The beauty is that a single design is sold over a 24-hour period only; it is then retired, replaced and the cycle repeats.

Will There be a Breakout Session on Pepperoni?

Speaking of pizza (see below), the Pizza Executive Summit '09 is currently taking place here in Chicago. With a name like that, it sounds ominous...ominously delicious.

Zell on the Outs?

Sam Zell may be pushed out as head of Tribune Co. as part of restructuring during bankruptcy.

Gone are the Glory Days of 2002

The economy is taking the toll on even the Mag Mile's ability to rent space. Its vacancy rate is up .9 percentage points from last year to 7.2%, the highest since 1992.

Uncommonly Badass

It's one thing to be a repo man who takes back cars and motorcycles. It's an entirely different, more difficult job if the vehicle is a jet. All in a day's work for Valparaiso-based Sage-Popovich.

Miller Gets Mobbed, Whacks Ads

Miller Lite's recent commercials featuring mobsters offering bartenders "protection" has met with protests from Italian-Americans, including the Italiean-American Human Relations Foundation. As a result, Miller is pulling the ads. Of course, it's not the first time beer and the mob have been linked.

Oi! Man U Gets A Chicago Connection

Iconic international football (soccer) franchise Manchester United has tabbed Chicago-based insurance company Aon as their new principal sponsor. Let's hope there's no curse associated with the honor, considering the fate that befell their old sponsor, a little company called AIG.

A Market Oasis

Time Magazine notes a Chicago grocer trying to grow in the city's food deserts.

But Will the Meters be Smarter than Us?

Com Ed is hastening the arrival of Skynet with a pilot program to test "smart" electric meters in 141,000 Chicago area locations by the end of the year. The meters will provide real-time information about electricity usage, among other features.

Elotes Under the Law

Today's Reader cover story takes a look at pushcart vendors' legal plight -- licensable in the parks, but not in the rest of the city.

The Fortunate 100

Crain's recently released its list of the highest-paid area CEOs in 2008. Comparing compensation to shareholder return is particularly fruitful.

Sounds like a Punchline

Virgin rumored to be eying Playboy.

Aqua Filling Up

Aqua, the much admired Studio Gang showpiece, has nearly landed a hotel for 15 of its floors. If you don't have the cash to visit -- not to mention live there -- you can still experience the joy of belonging by regularly reading the Aqua Homeowners website.

Affordable Family Homes Neither Affordable or for Families

The Sun-Times is working on an enlightening set of articles following nearly 200 units in University Village that were set aside for families who needed assistance to purchase a home. The paper finds 67% were sold to young, single buyers, including some who already owned multiple properties -- and that's just the beginning.

To Market, To Market

Farmers' market season is upon us once again, and in this week's Reader you'll find their annual guide to the city's markets. The Reader's list is organized by the day of the market; over at the city's official market site, you can find markets organized by neighborhood.

Behold! The New Whole Foods

No lesser personage than Emperor Daley was present for the opening of the new Whole Foods.

The New Condo Market isn't Thriving

It looks like sales of all of those new condos are going just about as well as you thought. More than half of all developments had units cancelled or didn't sell one unit in the first quarter.

Only a Matter of Time

Twitter Tees by Threadless.

The Third Largest Whole Foods

The new Whole Foods Lincoln Park opens next week -- but we've got a sneak peek in Drive-Thru. If you want more, there's a preview party Monday.

Where the Pretty Girls Are

I can get behind this sentiment.

A Sweet Deal on the West Side

A deserted Sears parking lot on the West Side has become a training ground for Chicago's next generation of entrepreneurs. Their stock in trade: honey-producing beehives.

Today's Most Inappropriate Headline Award Goes to

... the Trib for its coverage of Chrysler closing 789 dealerships, 44 of which are in Illinois: "No-haggle end for hundreds of Chrysler dealers."

A.Okay Officially Closing

Well-loved vinyl toy, clothing and sneaker boutique and art gallery A.Okay Official will be open for the last time this Saturday. Come by for DJs, refreshments, and a blowout sale.

They Should Make a T-Shirt!

Besides providing crazy-cool t-shirts, Chicago's Threadless evidently also provides a killer place to work. TravelChannel.com named Threadless an "extreme workplace," citing their 25,000-square-foot warehouse and production space where employees play Wii, bring it in intense ping-pong championships, and even rock out on an indoor skate ramp. Chicago photo blogger Joe M500 is interviewed about his recent photographic journey of the warehouse (and confirms its coolness) here.

Teeing Off

Beachwood Reporter points us to an interesting article in Casino City Times on Arlington Heights-based Incredible Technologies, makers of Golden Tee and other popular bar games.

Spreading Worker Dissent

Workers at the Des Plaines factory of Hartmarx, the 122-year-old company that made Obama's inaugural tuxedo, are following the lead of Republic Windows and Doors by voting to stage a sit-in if Wells Fargo liquidates their company.

Crazy Chicken

So you heard about how Oprah unleashed a tsunami on KFC earlier this week, right? Well, El Pollo Loco is accepting KFC coupons for a free dinner on Mother's Day. And in case you haven't had it? Their chicken is crazy good.

Savings in 140 or Less

CouponTweet, a site by former GB officemates PerkSpot, went into public beta yesterday, allowing you to search for coupon codes and special offers in the Twitter stream.

Dig Those Tights

There's a big excavation project going on on Belmont -- right in the middle of the new American Apparel store's floor.

LAZ Parking Finally Admits Mistakes

LAZ Parking officials have come to the oh-so-surprising conclusion that it wasn't ready to acquire the city's 36,000 parking meters in February.

Now Here's a Surprise...

If you were to guess what the the CEO of Caterpillar might want from the federal government, where do you think more construction funding would rank on the list?

As Far as This Train Goes

Toghaus, maker of CTA stop t-shirts, is closing up shop May 2. Get your Damen stop hoodie now! (You can still get an El Boton button to go with it, for now.) You might also be interested in That's My Stop's shirt designs.

GM's Reorganization Hitting Close to Home

As GM ditches Pontiac and plans to eliminate 42% of its dealerships, local dealerships are wondering what to do.

Target Acquired, Briefly

Target is opening a "Bullseye Bazaar" pop-up store in the Tribune Tower space previously occupied by the McCormick Freedom Museum. The store will only be open May 7-9, and will feature products from designers that will be appearing in Target nationwide later in the year.

Misdemeanor Weiners

Felony Franks, a new hot dog stand to be staffed by ex-prisoners, is causing a stir over its name despite its positive mission.

Half Empty, Half Full

Of late, turbulent home sales have resulted in hilariously contrasting headlines. For example: "sales skyrocket 38 percent" versus "home sales fall 26%."

Cheap Sassage

The Jewels is cutting prices up to 20 percent on many items in order to better compete with Wal-Mart and Dominick's.

South Side (Solar) Power

Provided Exelon gets federal stimulus funding, it is planning on building a 10 megawatt, 39-acre solar energy plant in West Pullman. The redeveloped industrial site would be the largest urban solar project in the U.S.

Playoffs: Icing On The Cake For Hawks

When the soaring Blackhawks hit the ice tonight in the third game of their best-of-seven playoff series against Calgary, it'll be one more boost to their ever-growing fan base. Crain's Chicago Business' Ed Sherman explains.

Midway Airport Off the Bargaining Table

Chicago has decided to not offer another extension to the group that was planning to lease Midway Airport for $2.5 billion, the consequence being the plan will not come to fruition.

Getting Rich in the City of Broad Shoulders

Have you ever wondered how much Chicago's top CEOs make? Wonder no more.

Apple Doesn't Fall Far From Lincoln Park

After much ado about Block 37, Apple has chosen North & Clybourn as the location of its newest Chicago retail location.

Threadless: Multiplying Like...You Know

This Saturday, keep a keen eye open for these adorable bunny boxes from Chicago t-shirt shop Threadless. They'll be placed in random locations and they're filled with something better than chocolate: gift certificates!

Not So Magnificent Mile

Business is down on Michigan Avenue, but leasing demand is still strong elsewhere.

Hot Doug Drop Drops

Hot Doug's has put a stop to unofficial delivery service, but it could blossom into something more. (Hot Doug's will remain the same, though.)

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chuck 'Em

Those possibly questionable (but somewhat intriguing?) Barack Obama-head Chia Pets have been pulled from the shelves of local Walgreens stores after a "few complaints", despite the "nervous" customer surveying done by the company's owner. Bam! Instant collectors items.

Decentralizing the Business District

A new report from Brookings demonstrates that the Chicago metropolitan area has the second highest decentralization of jobs in the U.S., with 68.7% of all jobs located more than ten miles from the central business district. Only Detroit is ahead of us, with a whopping 77.4%.

Encased Meats, Delivered -- for Now

Hot Doug Drop is a new service that delivers Hot Doug's to drop-off locations at the Merc and CBOT twice daily for a small fee. But it's unaffiliated with the restaurant, and owner Doug Sohn says the service's days may be numbered.

Housewares Illustrated

Couldn't make it to the International Housewares Show last month? No worries, Craig Berman and Tobias Lunchbreath have drawn you some pictures.

"General Growth has no explanation for 35% stock jump"

Maybe the growth has something to do with General Growth's name?

Mörtön Sält

From Morton Salt's beginnings in 1848, the company has always been headquartered in Chicago. Hopefully that will still be the case as its acquisition by the German K+S Group is finalized.

Haven't You Always Wanted a Monkey?

Well, maybe not all the time, but Groupon's side deal of the day is a week's monkey rental for just $50.

Republic Windows & Doors Broke the Law

The Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board ruled on Friday that Republic Windows & Doors violated federal labor laws when it created another company in order to skirt bargaining with its union.

This Foreclosed-upon Life

If you missed it this weekend, it's worth listening to the most recent episode of This American Life, which offers "scenes from a recession" and includes a look at the limbo some Rogers Park condo owners are in, with half their building in foreclosure and the developer nowhere to be found.

South Works Loses a Partner

A major financier of the redevelopment of the largest "open" land in the city, the former U.S. Steel South Works, has dropped out of the plan. To give you a sense of scale of the project, the other partners are continuing preparations to build "17,000 housing units, a million square feet of retail space and a 1,500-slip marina on the site."

Cubs Still the Trib's for Now

It looks like the Tribune Company won't be selling the Cubs until after opening day. MLB insiders say the sale probably won't actually happen until mid-May at the earliest.

Beer, Here

New Chicago breweries Metropolitan and Half Acre got some good press today, both in the Tribune and in the Wall Street Journal.

What Willis Is Talking About

Willis Group CEO Jim Plameri takes to the web to talk about the renaming of the Sears Tower. [via]

Block 37 Gets 86'd Again

Like David Barton Gym before them, British Columbia-based clothing retailer Lululemon says "meh" to joining in the Block 37 project.

Culinary Financial Markets

The WSJ blog asks how Chicago's private equity market is like Chicago-style pizza, by which it means it has a "style all its own" as a result of its First Chicago Bank origins.

The $90,000 Secret Password

For a change of pace, someone's taking advantage of currency exchanges.

Remembering Old Chicago Mall

I never visited Old Chicago Mall, but a massive mall with "rides, a concert venue and circus performers--all under a glowing 16-story dome" sounds like a little kid's dream. If you have memories of the mall or want to read other people's recollections, Paul Drabek's roller coaster website collects them.

Sears Tower: What's in a Name?

They talked about painting it silver, but this story isn't a flash in the pan. The Sears Tower's getting a new tenant at the end of the summer, and a new name. London-based Willis Group is moving nearly 500 employees to the iconic tower in the Loop, and as a reward, Crain's is reporting the building will soon be called The Willis Tower. [hat tip to Sarah]

Need to Print Some Résumés?

If so, head to FedEx Office (formerly FedEx Kinkos, formerly Kinkos...) today for their free résumé printing service.

Does Going Digital = Death to Print?

The Sun-Times is on the shortlist of newspapers that Time has predicted will either fold or go digital in the near future. Sun-Times tweets that they "don't buy it."

What Your Boss Can & Can't Do

Can My Boss Do That?, a new website from Interfaith Workers Justice, answers the question with resources and information regarding hiring and firing practices, health insurance and other benefits, safety regulations and more.

And Then Shangri-La Vanished

The proposed Wacker Drive Shangri-La Hotel has been put on indefinite hiatus. Blair Kamin wants to know what would you do with the partially completed tower?

Beyond the Borders

Some local indie sellers are doing just fine even as major chain bookstores struggle.

The Great Silent Lake

According to this somewhat confusing graph, Chicago is the world's third most innovative hub, behind only Silicon Valley and Tokyo, in terms of the number diversity of separate companies developing new patents. [via]

A Little Penny Pinching

The Chicago HQ of McDermott Will & Emery is cutting free coffee in the lobby and evening meals, but the partners aren't pleased.

Our Tea May be Safe Again

Remember the call for a Chicago Tea Party? Well, the idea's originator, Rick Santelli, is distancing himself from the ramifications of the statement.

Another High-Profile Store Closing

Borders still hasn't made any progress subleasing its four troubled stores, but it is planning to close its Magnificent Mile location at the beginning of next year.

Republic Windows & Doors is Now Serious Materials

Serious Materials' purchase of the Republic Windows factory has been approved. The agreement will allow at least some of the workers to retain their jobs, with a plan in place to bring others back as "production demand increases."

Tribune Tower to Stay that Way ... for Now

Bankruptcy and the dismal real estate market have forced the Tribune Company to take the Tribune Tower off of the market.

Karmic Echo

Echo Windows, the company in Iowa created by the former owners of Republic Windows & Doors, closed its doors today.

Shoveling Product

WBEZ web producer Andrew Gill interviews Flameshovel Records' James Kenler about life for an indie label after the end of Touch & Go's distribution arm.

Mega Development Aids New Supermarket Invasion

The mega development Lakeshore East is taking another step towards completion, with a Roundy's store in the works. Apparently, all they need now is "an Irish pub"...

The Economist Looks at Illinois

This week's Economist soft-pedals our economic woes like this: "That Illinois is faring better than Michigan, Ohio and Indiana is small comfort."

Are the U of C Hospitals Dumping Patients?

Following emergency room organizational changes, the U of C Hospitals have been accused of coming "dangerously close" to deflecting uninsured and otherwise cost-intensive patients to other hospitals by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Where've You Been?

Where I've Been is a new site that allows you to track and share your travels on a variety of social networks. They're hosting a Facebook Developers Garage tonight if you're interested.

Ikram Speaks

Citybuzz.com tracked down Chicago's own Ikram Goldman at New York Fashion week for her thoughts on fall fashion.

Yipes, Yelp!

Review site Yelp.com is taking some heat for allegedly pitching businesses to pay them to suppress negative reviews. Local entrepreneur and martial arts teacher Pek Pongpaet has a story to tell of a slightly different phenomenon. [via]

New Stimulus Package Idea

Table Fifty-Two has been swamped with reservation requests since word leaked about the Obamas' Valentine's Day dinner there. As of Monday afternoon, Saturdays were booked through the end of March. I wonder if they'd have the same effect at any restaurant they visited...

News Business Model

Crain's asks, can entrepreneurs save journalism?

Boutiques in Even More Trouble

It's not much of a surprise, but boutiques are in trouble for a new reason: their suppliers are demanding cash up front for purchases.

A Presidential Drugstore

The Obamafication of Hyde Park's Walgreens.

"Creativity in short supply"

We know what some of you think about the Olympic bid, but most public critiques haven't spent much time on the architecture. Blair Kamin starts the discussion with a serious critique.

Not Just Any Old Pinups

What happens when you get a dozen fabulous female cyclists together in Chicago, introduce some introspection and give one of them a camera? The Thought You Knew Us Pinup Calendar, of course. Twelve Chicago cyclists, ranging from road warriors to bike messengers to everyday saddle lovers got together to explore public perception of women cyclists and to raise money for the Chicago Women's Health Center which keeps many of them on the road. Learn more, including where you can get your own here.

With Friends Like These...

This week's Reader feature investigates the financial troubles threatening the eviction of Loren Billings, the 89-year-old widow who lives in and runs the Museum of Holography.

Still Listening to Chris Brown?

The Trib's Mark Caro raises questions for Chicago radio stations, particularly Clear Channel's KISS FM, regarding whether or not they should play Chris Brown songs following the singer's domestic violence arrest.

Bad Economy Wins!

Chicago-based video game developer Midway Games filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today after a nearly five-year battle with their finances. The Mortal Kombat creator recently laid off 25% of their local workforce in an unsuccessful attempt to stay afloat.

Six More Chicago Wal-Marts?

That's the plan, although we'll see what City Council has to say about it...

Yes Ikram

The New York Times takes a look at the involvement and influence of Chicago boutique owner Ikram Goldman's in the sartorial choices of First Lady Michelle Obama.

Massive Changes at the U of C Hospitals

Chicago BioMedicine (which includes the The University of Chicago Medical Center) announced a major reorganization with 450 layoffs -- 5% of its workforce.

Made Off with the Local Money

The full extent of Bernard Madoff's ponzi scheme still isn't known, but there are more than two dozen victims in Chicagoland alone, the Tribune reports. Here's the official list of all victims.

Bon Mots on TicketMaster & TicketsNow Deal

"Ticket brokers calling your business arrangement shady is like the mob saying your methods of payment collection are a little severe."

Vibrator! Stat!

Never expected to see a sex toy delivery service to get front-page treatment on the Trib's website, complete with (mostly SFW) video.

Malia & Sasha Dolls Retired

Yep, those new dolls from Ty that were coincidentally named after the two kids in the First Family were taken out of circulation after the company received complains about their using the Obama daughters' names. Of course, it could have been just another coincidence that the complaint came just as they were retiring the dolls....

Help for Small Businesses

If you have a small business or are thinking of opening one, the Jane Adams Hull House is offering 3 different programs in February that you maybe interested in attending. And because they care about you, the programs are free.

Uptown Throwdown

Uptown Update, the highly popular blog that has become a thorn in the side of Ald. Helen Shiller, particularly over the fate of the Wilson Yard Project, has been brought into that case by the attorney for the yard's developer, Peter Holsten. The attorney is subpoening records from Google about the ownership of that blog and another (apparently defunct blog) called "What The Helen".

Tough Times for Wetland Bankers

The economic downturn is creating problems for wetland mitigation developers and leading others to question the practice.

Has Noble Horse Run Its Course?

Horse.com (which should probably know about these things) reports that the unique Noble Horse Stable might be closing its doors after 138 (yes, 138) years of operation. The facility, which in addition to providing downtown carriage rides also houses a horse-themed theater, is a victim of too much competition, says the owner.

Unsuiting Obama?

Hartmarx Corporation,the company responsible for President Obama's suits, has filed for bankruptcy.

Hey Buddy, Wanna Buy a Watch?

Father Time Antiques specializes in vintage watches — some beautiful timepieces in there.

Not Encyclowikia Britannica

Encyclopedia Britannica's new user-generated version of its online encyclopedia debuted today, but it's nothing like Wikipedia.

Not that Malia & Sasha

These new dolls from Beanie Babies maker Ty aren't based on Obama's daughters at all. No, not at all.

Another Hancock Building for Chicago

Chicago real estate firm The John Buck Company may soon add Boston's Hancock Tower to its portfolio, which includes a good chunk of the Chicago region.

Take That To The Bank... Or Not

OK, how about some news that's NOT about the goings-on in Washington, D.C.? WaMu is set to close 57 Chicago-area bank branches. On second thought, that probably does have a lot to do with Washington, D.C.

Republic Window Employees May Return to Work

Republic Windows and Doors won't be reopening, but a green building materials company from California is in negotiations for the factory. The firm's current factories are non-union, however, so there may still be problems if the deal goes through.

Your Personal Assistant

Need a little extra help? Chicago Anytime Assistants can give a hand by picking up laundry, waiting for the cable guy, do a little shopping, whatever. As a special to GB readers, they're offering your first hour of service for free -- just mention you saw it on Gapers Block.*

*Of course, it goes without saying, don't abuse this deal. Offer may be canceled at any time, without notice. GB is not responsible, yadda yadda, etc., etc.

One Way to Upset the EEOC

Dentist James L. Orrington may like you to work for him if you will submit to Scientology, among other problematic practices.

Family Coworking

The Post Family and One Design have opened a coworking space called COOP, appropriately enough. If a full-on office is too much, though, you might also be interested in Jelly.

A TIF of Olympic Proportions

You know that Olympic Village Daley wants to build? It'll be done with TIF dollars, Crain's reports. Ben Joravsky breaks it all down.

Crowdsourcing a Winner

Chicago crowdsourcing startup crowdSPRING won Wired's Small Biz Program contest.

Slapping Greenspan to Save Face

With all of the talk about the Chicago school's problems regarding the recent financial crisis, Raghuram Rajan wants people to know the U of C was also leading the warnings.

Batman III, Up Close

More rumors abound about the siting of the newest Batman franchise in Chicago, along with some other details.

Bargain Family Jewels

Bernard Madoff's $50 billion fraud is having a trickle-down effect in Chicago: Many Palm Beach millionaires have been forced to sell their jewelry, so they've turned to House of Kahn Estate Jewelers for assistance. Some of the pieces have found their way to House of Kahn's Chicago location, where you might be able to purchase them at a 50-60% discount. Of course, in the world of high-end jewelry, that means they're now priced anywhere from $20,000-$100,000.

Caganer You Can Believe In

Last-minute holiday shoppers, take note: you can buy a Barack Obama caganer for those folks on your Christmas list who have everything. [via]

Creative Loafing, Financially Drowning

A bankruptcy judge denied a motion by creditors of Reader publisher Creative Loafing to take control of the company, despite a creditor's statement that CL "is really way under water." Yikes.

Braaaains!... In Aisle 5

Like zombies from a George Romero movie, the good people at Wal-Mart keep coming back. They're going to try one more time to open their second store in Chicago.

Thank You, Come Again

The one upside of our struggling economy? Nicer sales clerks, or so an article in Crain's claims. Your own experiences may vary.

Less Mortal Kombat, More Mortal Combat

Midway Games' Chicago office laid off 130 full-time employees just in time for the holidays.

Closing the Window

A sad but expected coda to the Republic Windows & Doors story: the company filed for bankruptcy today.

Christmastime for Film Buffs

This weekend Facets Multimedia is having another one of its periodic video sales, where it sells off rare and out-of-print titles on VHS and DVD. A perfect opportunity to do your holiday shopping for all the cinephiles on your list! Details in Slowdown.

Office Supply Shortage Forthcoming?

As part of Office Depot's plan to close 112 stores across the country, the Chicago area will lose 15.

Republic Windows Workers Win -- Maybe

The AP and Bloomberg are reporting that Bank of America has agreed to offer Republic Windows & Doors additional credit to pay its workers, now in their fifth day of sit-in. Of course, it won't matter if Republic doesn't take the offer.

Republic Windows Story Less than Transparent

Interesting development in the Republic Windows & Doors story: its owners may have already started a new company. (More updates in Mechanics.)

Trib Files for Bankruptcy Protection

As was rumored to be coming, the Tribune Company filed for bankruptcy protection today. Editor & Publisher gives some background and analysis as to what's happened.

Gingerbread Masterpiece

April Reed Cake Design is selling a gingerbread version of Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House. The original, located in Plano, Illinois, was sold to local preservationists in December 2003 for $7.5 million. This edible treat sells for $4,320 - 15% of proceeds pays for repairs to the real house. [via]

Playboy CEO To Hop Along

Christie Hefner, chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises, Inc., will be stepping down in 2009. Update: Hefner spoke to the Tribune about her decision to leave Playboy. Read the interview here.

Germ Of An Idea

Stumped on what to get that hypochondriac on your Christmas list? How about a giant, plush microbe, created by University of Chicago law school grad Drew Oliver. Choose from The Common Cold, E. coli or Black Death. Hours of fun...

80,000 Jobs are Just the Beginning

Crain's examines the linkages between Chicago and Detroit and the effect the current calamity with U.S. automakers could have on us.

Holiday Mail Bag

Looking for holiday greeting cards? Local folks on Etsy have some great Chicago-themed designs available, no matter what your holiday.

Buy Your Soul Back

Reason To Give has the perfect solution for those hard-to-buy-for people on your list. The Chicago nonprofit's new webstore offers an innovative alternative to traditional holiday gift exchange and a sweet chance to help out the Humboldt Park community. It's like Extreme Makeover Home Edition meets Amazon.com!

Get Yer Christmas On

Christkindlmarket is officially open down in Daley Plaza.

High Tech & Created in Chicago

Callpod is a local company producing some very cutting edge gadgets, including multi-device chargers and extra-strength bluetooth headsets.

Illinois Unemployment Rate Increases to 7.3%

I guess that jobs post was more urgent than I realized.

Talk About BOGO

With the economy in such a sorry state these days, retailers are trying everything they can to get people shopping again. Frank Mancari, owner of Mancari's Chrysler-Jeep in Oak Lawn is no different. On Monday, he began selling slightly-used PT Cruisers for $1 to customers who bought an SUV-style Chrysler Pacifica at his dealership.

Potbelly Gets Crafty

Who knew that employees at Chicago-based Potbelly Sandwich Works were so into DIY and being green?

No More Loop Mail Pickup At 5

If the end of your work day includes a stop at the mailbox, chances are you'll have to change your work routine: the postal service has cut 5 PM pickup times in Loop office buildings, thanks to economic troubles and security concerns.

Humane Fashion

Interested in a completely vegan winter coat that's still the height of fashion? Vaute Couture is the place to start; learn more on their blog.

Green Banking

Harris opened its first environmentally-friendly bank in Chicago, apparently in penance for opening branches in every available retail site in the city.

Roll of the 20-Sided Die

Chicagoland gamers, welcome to the Dice Doho.

HO HO HOprah

The online version of The Oprah Store is all new, just in time for the holiday season. The Short Rouched Sleeve Button Front Cashmere Cardigan is rather sweet.

Say Hey

Sam Zell is sticking firm to his $1 billion asking price for the Cubs, even in the souring economy. But apparently Mark Cuban is out despite his $1.3 billion offer.

Tweeter Closing Stores

The major electronics store Tweeter is filing for bankruptcy and closing eight Chicago stores. Good thing the amphitheater already changed its name.

Nau Connecting

Those of you who miss Nau should check out new Wicker Park store Connect. It's run by a former Nau marketing manager, and carries the relaunched brand's lines.

Tough Times for Sullivan Center

Plans for the former Carson Pirie Scott & Co. building have hit a snag, as both clothing retailer Billabong and grocer Fox & Obel have decided not to open storefronts in the historical building at 1 S. State Street, which is currently undergoing renovations and is scheduled to reopen next fall.

Last Minute Halloween Costumes

Still haven't figured out what to dress up as for that costume party this weekend? Here are a couple last-minute resources:
• Hit one of Chicago Costume's locations for an off-the-shelf "sexy ___" outfit.
• Hit Clark & Belmont and troll through Ragstock, Hollywood Mirror and the like for something zany.
• Try places like American Science & Surplus or Uncle Fun for random bits and pieces.
Fantasy Costumes in Jefferson Park is open 24 hours through Halloween for your absolute-last-minute shopping needs.

It's Miller Time...In Chicago

Actually, MillerCoors time, the mash-up of two of the biggest brewers in the country. The company has tabbed downtown Chicago as the site of its new headquarters.

Credit Where Credit Isn't Due

The Wall Street Journal details how exchanges like the Chicago Climate Exchange don't always work how they should.

Mrs. O

Fashion blog Mrs. O is all about what Michelle Obama has been wearing on the campaign trail. Mrs. O finally visited Chicago to do some more digging, and had nothing but lovely things to say about the city's fashionable finds.

A Suit We Can Believe In

How popular is Barack Obama? Even his suit is getting more attention than John McCain (OK, sorta...).

A Good Start?

Sorry, that's the punchline to a bad lawyer joke. But the reality is that two Chicago law firms have laid off a significant number of their staff, a result of the current economic crunch.

Good Things in Small Packages

The Wall Street Journal just released its list of the Top Small Workplaces 2008. Out of the 15 they selected, two are in the Chicago suburbs — Integrated Project Management Co. in Burr Ridge, IL and J.A. Frate Inc. in Crystal Lake, IL. Chicago-based Radio Flyer was a finalist.

You've Got Mustard On Your Shirt

...and bright green relish, chopped onions, tomato wedges, a dill pickle spear, sport peppers and some celery salt. [via]

Macy's Making Nice

The Sun-Times reports on the store's implementation of "My Macy's", which aims to reach out to Chicago shoppers by localizing store design and merchandising. Changes to be implemented include the expansion of offerings from local designers. "Macy's and other retailers are struggling to attract shoppers in what is expected to be worst holiday retail season in six or seven years."

Now Only 12,999 Obama Novelties at Walgreens

Walgreens has removed one set of political toys familiar to the drug store's customers. I suppose the "Property of Barack Obama" sweatshirt and oversized "Obamaniac" buttons will need to find new places to hang.

Sandwich Wars

If the Fuel question for today has gotten you thinking about your lunchtime eating options, consider that Potbelly has unveiled a new sandwich to complete with the piled-high-with-meat options at Quizno's and Subway.

Invasion of the Toys

Kidrobot's Chicago Pirate Store is now open (photos here), ready to serve your vinyl collectible needs through the holidays. Meanwhile, Rotofugi is expanding and is holding a big warehouse sale to make room. Stock up!

Got Two ...or Hundreds

Looking for tickets to the playoff games? Or maybe a concert? Ticket start-up LiveStub might be your best bet -- and they don't charge a service fee.

Illicit Use of the Loss Prevention Office

Two "close friends" were filmed doing something they shouldn't have been doing at a suburban Neiman Marcus store. Now they're suing the company for a number of violations related to the video.

They Call Him "The Cleaner"

Mr. Clean actor House Peters died recently at the age of 92. In case you didn't know, Mr. Clean was created here in Chicago by Harry Barnhart and Ernie Allen at the Tatham-Laird & Kudner ad agency. The hairless, obsessive compulsive, controversial, and sexually ambiguous corporate mascot's first name is Veritably, by the way, and he's known as Mr. Proper in England and Don Limpio in Spain. There you go: more than you ever wanted to know about Mr. Clean.

Hey! That's My Stop!

Want to show some love to your favorite El stop (and if you have favorite El stop that might be a sign of something altogether different)? The CTA unveils its new online gift shop with items featuring various city stations. And who doesn't need a train system shower curtain?

Crowdfunded Shirts

Cameesa has a lot in common with Threadless: it's based in Chicago, makes user-submitted designer t-shirts and all web2.0-y. The difference is, Cameesa's shirts only get printed if they're pre-sold above a certain threshold within 31 days.

Bad Pun Alert: Emerald

A new, green Jewel that took five years to build is open.

Bunny To Go Belly Up?

The Telegraph has no good financial news for the house that Hef built. With a crap economy, internet porn sites, and paltry pay-per-view profits nipping at its tail, could Playboy go belly up? Gawker has a somewhat graphic graphic to explain.

Chicago Gathers a MoSS

Next weekend, the Museum of Sustainable Style opens for a four-day look at sustainable clothing, accessories and furniture.

A Novel Idea

Well this should make Ben Joravsky happy. Due to lack of support from the governor we all love to hate, Daley and friends have decided to shut down the central loop TIF only a year and a half after its original expiration date. So we can actually see where some of our money is going? Amazing.

Will There Be Cocoa-Ed Dorms?

Something called the U.S. Chocolate Academy, created by the Barry Callebaut company, is coming to Chicago. It's the first one in the US.; the other is in Russia. Sweet.

Vini Vici Verde

Strange Closets interviews interior designer Michele Fitzpatrick of Verde.

Open Sourcing Produce

Open Produce, a produce store opening in Hyde Park tomorrow, is modeled after the open source movement. As such, the owners will disclose price mark-ups, wages and other information typically kept out of the public sphere. Read about their travails testing for lead paint, visiting their wholesaler and other start-up business chaos on their blog.

Not Manic For Organic?

Organic food may be all the rage these days, but according to the Chicago Reporter, the pesticide-free food is hard to come by in minority communities, for various reasons.

Stock Up on Cheese

Kraft will be joining the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Sept. 22, replacing AIG.

Knit Map

With the temps dropping, I've been itching to start knitting again. If you find yourself with the urge, but no supplies, try calling on Knit Map to locate the LYS (local yarn store) nearest you. It's especially handy when you're stuck somewhere unfamiliar (suburbs) and you need some yarn distraction (awkward family gathering). There's even an iPhone version.

Nine Million Cigarettes Later

An enterprising Chicagoan realized the Kentucky sales tax on a pack of cigarettes is 30 cents, while the Chicago tax is $3.66 and the New York tax is $4.25. Unfortunately for him, taking advantage of that difference isn't legal.

How Green Was My Notepad

If you're so green, you don't even use paper made from trees, than you're either carving grocery lists on stones, or you're using Ultra Green Film made right here in Chicago.

Arrgh! Kidrobot Is Coming

Fans of adult toys (no, not those kind) will be geeked to find out that Kidrobot is opening its first-ever Chicago-based pirate store here next month. The purveyor of vinyl art toys and apparel will open the store in Wicker Park from October 4 through December.

Coffee War Brewing

As The Mighty Starbucks Empire begins a withdrawal of sorts, closing 600 outlets including 18 in Chicago, stalwart Dunkin' Donuts is moving in to fill the gap with plans for four drive-thrus in locations previously earmaked for Starbucks.

More Than Leasing the Skyway and Garages

If you've ever wanted a crash course in our part of the world's tendency to lease public property to private interests, the Trib has you covered.

A Different Kind of Craftsman

In what's probably the most bizarre local fashion news story of late, Sears is releasing a line of clothing based on the Army's First Infantry Division uniforms.

Burning Up the Kitchen

Thinking of opening a restaurant? Unless you're able to luck out like Smoque, think again.

Is Tech Dead in Chicago?

Tech reporters Howard Wolinsky and Brad Spirrison think it's debatable.

Corporate Olympic Dreams

Crain's does a detailed analysis of the effectiveness of Chicago companies' advertisements during the Olympics.

Looking for a Job? You're Not Alone

Chicago's unemployment rate is up to 7.5 percent -- 2.1% over last year -- and we lost 2,700 jobs.

Scent of a Particular Woman

Chicagoan Jessica Dunne wanted to honor her grandmother, Eleanor, so she developed a custom perfume, Ellie D, on her own. You can order it online here or at June Blaker.

This Guy's Insaaaaaaannnnnneeee!!!

Today, Wikipedia is featuring former Elgin native Earl "Madman" Muntz -- engineer, entrepreneur, grandfather of the 8-track tape player (among other inventions), and the original television saleslunatic.

Vote for Chicago's Veggie Establishments

VegNews is currently accepting votes for the 2008 Veggie Awards, which feature the Chicago Diner, the Bleeding Heart Bakery and products from the Chicago Soydairy, among others.

Transitions Transitions

Transitions, a new-age bookstore that was in dire straits in 2006, closed over the weekend, possibly for good.

Designing in Green

Thinking about sprucing up your home? You might consider going more eco-conscious with your choices. Greenmaker Supply Company is a great resource for low-VOC paint, recycled building products and more. Or, if you've got the budget, you might get in touch with Green Home Chicago for the full design treatment. The Center for Green Technology is another good resource.

Bye-Bye, Bucktown Boutiques

Crain's reports on the demise of independent boutiques in Bucktown, Wicker Park and elsewhere. Soaring rents and an invasion of national retailers take much of the blame, along with the sagging economy. [via]

Poop on the Porch

Live in a highrise and don't want to go all the way downstairs to walk your dog? If you've got a patio, your problem is solved.

Shopping for Stores

Apparently Chicago's stores are hot right now -- on the real estate market.

Scooting Around Gas Prices

With gas prices still above $4, scooters are booming in popularity. Did you know that Chicago is home to one of the only scooter companies in the US?

Montrose's Big Dig

With Montrose Avenue torn up for months, local businesses are once again worried.

Yet Another Googlemap - Amenities Edition

PeekaCity allows you to search for particular amenities, from banks to parks to ice cream parlors. It's aimed at homesellers, but anybody can use it.

Chewing Up the Charts

Singer Chris Brown's hit single "Forever" is also a paid ad placement for Wrigley's Doublemint gum; Wrigley has two more song-commercials in the works.

Timbuk2less

If you're a fan of Threadless, you'll probably be pretty into these limited edition bags from Timbuk2, too.

Uptown Theater Sold

Jam Productions has acquired the long-shuttered Uptown Theater for $3.2 mil in a foreclosure sale, as reported by Crain's. (Thanks to Uptown Update for the tip.)

Bargain Basement Books

Deal hunters, start your browsing! The Waldenbooks at 900 N. Michigan Ave. is closing as of this Friday, 7/25 and its entire stock is 40% off (bargain books are 75% off). Now you can get that oversized book about Peru for mere pennies!

The Sun Will Come Out ... "Tommorow"

It's no CHI-TONW, but Jade Dragon's done it again, this time misspelling "tomorrow" on a customer. The tattoo artist insists the word was misspelled by the client. A trial will sort it all out.

SOLVE T-Shirt

Local urbanwear designer FormulaWerks is offering a t-shirt memorial to murdered street artist SOLVE for a limited time.

Nau for the Next Phase

Nau fans will be pleased to hear that after basically shutting down in May, Nau will resume operations as a new company affiliated with Horny Toad. There are no plans for reopening the store on Halsted, so keep track of their activities on their blog.

MillerCoors Chooses Chicago As Beer HQ

The new beer giant MillerCoors has decided to call Chicago home. According to the Sun-Times, the company has considered a number of downtown locations for its headquarters, including the Sun-Times’ home at 350 N. Orleans. The deal may have also been brokered with substantial tax incentives from Gov. Blagojevich.

The Chicago Brewers?

Brewtown may be an hour or two to the north, but their bosses might end up right here.

Passing the Baton

We're not the only ones who stand to benefit economically from getting the nod for the 2016 Olympics. According to a report, the cities surrounding Chicago might get to stand on the winner's platform too.

Blogshopping

Boutiqueville blogs the latest news on the city's boutique scene.

Foreclosures Affect Renters Too

The Chicago Reporter highlights the plight of renters caught up in their landlords' mortgage troubles, and offers tips should you find yourself in a similar situation.

Shopping in Lake County

The recent Cook County sales tax hike has some shoppers heading to Lake County, Indiana -- probably to the other collar counties, too.

That's My T-Shirt

El stop t-shirts from That's My Stop. (Link fixed.)

On the Cusp in September

The Cusp Conference looks promising, but save your pennies or get your boss to pay for it: full price tickets are $1500 'til July 31, $1750 thereafter for the Sept. 10-11 conference.

Sket Bot's Chicago Homage?

Not sure I'd pay $50 for it, but this hat by graffiti artist Sket One is pretty sweet, with its Chicago-style stars. You can get shorts or hoodie to match, too.

Lava Lamps are Local!

We can't guarantee they're actually made here, but the company that makes them is based in Elmhurst, and was just purchased by a local investment firm.

Stiffed

Certain UNITE HERE Local 1 members may soon be joined by funeral home employees on Chicago's picket lines.

Barleycorn's in Bridgeport?

The Sun-Times uncovers that Jimbo's Lounge's landlord wants the 22-year-old bar out so he can bring in an outpost of John Barleycorn.

Without a Trace

Possibly one of the best business names ever. Without a Trace will miraculously mend cigarette burns, small rips, holes from moths, etc. in your favorite garments that you just can't bear to discard. Their Before and After Gallery is quite impresive.

The [For Sale] Tower

The Tribune Company is considering selling the Tribune Tower. Maybe a certain new media outfit should boost its profile...

Cinco de Perro y Gato

Sam and Willy's, the pet boutique near the currently closed Paulina Brown Line stop, celebrates its 5th anniversary with a special Cinco de Sam & Willy's discount shopping evening. Tonight from 6:00 to 9:00 you can get money off of your non-food item purchases ($25 off every $100 spent). If you can't make it this evening, there'll be discounts and specials at the store all this weekend. So stop by and get your pet a treat!

Glossed and Found

Your new fashion news source.

Pedal to the Tech Metal

Got an idea for a tech startup? You've got till Friday to apply for IL-Celerate, a 12-week program to get you up and running. You don't even need a business plan.

The First Volley in Lakefront Ad Wars?

It seems Nike put some illegal ads on the lakefront path on Friday.

Andersonville Getting Ala Carte T-Shirts

Spotted during Midsommarfest this weekend: T-Shirt Deli is opening an Andersonville branch.

Behind the Bunnyhead

Ever wonder what a tour of the Playboy office would be like?

Airport Express to be Privatized

Due to rising project costs the CTA is looking to private companies to develop the airport express project that will originate at Block 37.

State Drops the Ball on Wrigley

The State's bid to buy Wrigley Field from the Tribune failed to make it out of the infield in a clash over how to finance the deal. Does this open the door for Mark Cuban to buy the team and stadium lock, stock and barrel?

Shop Local

Indylist.org helps Chicagoans find independently owned shops, restaurants and other businesses near them. Sweet!

Bike to Work Week Begins

Well, it really began on Saturday, but if you're a Monday-Friday commuter, now's your time to shine. Get information about bicycle commuter stations and events at the Chicago Bicycle Federation's website.

No Bust, No Problem

Chicago native Jane Alden Hodgdon created her line of Itty Bitty Bras for the less-than-C-cup women of the world.

The Finest Custom Luxury Hats from the South Side

Business Week TV profiles Optimo Hats, the company behind the hats Tom Hanks wore in Road to Perdition and Johnny Depp is wearing in that movie we're all aware is filming in Chicago.

CME MMC 2008

The Community Media Workshop's Making Media Connections Conference takes place next week, so don't forget to register if you're planning on going. For an outside perspective on the conference, check out Nonprofiteer's assessment.

What Can Evanston Teach Hyde Park?

Plenty, apparently, particularly when it comes to redeveloping HP's Harper Court, as Hyde Park Progress points out.

House Hunting on the Cheap

So, you don't think you can afford a home in the city? Sure you can. Take a look at the cheapest real estate in Chicago.

Leading Economic Indicator: Limo Rides

Apparently fewer people are taking limos to O'Hare and Midway, thanks to rising fuel costs and shrinking pocketbooks.

What's Really Going On With the Economy?

Leo J. Shapiro, who holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago, has started WhoSpends.com as a way to support or debunk many of the purchasing myths that reside in popular media when talking about spending habits. He has more economy predictions available at 8Sages.com as well.

Take That, Other Global Cities!

While our trader and hedge fund manager readership already knows we're the best city to live in as a trader, now it's official -- again.

Nike Nation

A diverse clientele gets their kicks not on Route 66 but at an upscale athletic shoe store across from the Sheridan Red Line el stop.

Long-time Stores to Close

The launch of the new Ritz-Carlton condo building means the end for the current locations for long-time Michigan Avenue staples Garrett Popcorn and Hanig's Footwear.

Our Real Estate Woes Could Be Worse

The real estate market seems pretty bad, but we're actually in better shape than a lot of other places, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Tax Free? The City Doesn't Think So

The city sees eBay and StubHub as "reseller agents," as such, it argues they owe the city taxes.

Industrious Brooklyn comes to Chicago

Hopefully with a better experience than the ill-fated Neighborhoodies store, fabbo bag/clothing/accessories company Brooklyn Industries has recently opened a Chicago outpost in Bucktown.

It Works the Other Way, Too

Local poster site Posterbored launched its new line of t-shirts today. Poor Chromeo.

Your Wall is Naked and Angry

Threadless is now doing screenprinted posters of many popular designs. Hand-numbered editions of 250, for $35 each. Get'em while they're hot!

The Walking Dead

Remember Coleco, Brim, Nuprin and Salon Selectives? Even though the products died, Chicago-based River West Brands bought the rights to their names and other associated intellectual property. The NY Times Magazine features the firm in its exploration of resurrecting dead brands.

The End of Open-Outcry Trading at the Merc

After today, Chicago Mercantile Exchange open-outcry traders will leave their home for the Chicago Board of Trade's floor. Check out the story's accompanying photo feature for some quirky historical shots.

Goin' Postal

Starting today, first-class letter postage has shot up to 42 cents. Hope you bought "Forever" stamps.

Clothes Wars

Hip Spanish clothing store Zara is finally coming to the Chicago area (Old Orchard to be exact). It also plans to open locations on North Michigan Ave. in Block 37, areas where its main rival, H&M, already has stores.

Need. More. Oprah.

The Oprah Store has opened in West Town. Buy all her favorite things. Wear her cast-off clothing. Pretend a studio audience is with you at all times. It's healthy.

It's a Mitzvah

Oy! Chicago is a relatively new site for "Jews in the Loop," featuring articles, interviews and events. The latest feature profiles Web2.0 companies Planypus and 37signals.

The Business of Candy

Now that the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company will no longer be locally owned, who's Chicago's biggest name in candy? Tootsie Roll Industries, that's who.

Past in Present

Nau, the environmentally conscious clothing company with an outpost on Halsted, is closing due to limited investment capital. Head by the store today to say "goodbye" and receive 50% off of all merchandise.

Chocolate Gum?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Mars, Inc. (makers of Snickers and M&Ms) and Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett's company) have made a $22 billion bid for the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. (If only we could get them to buy the Cubs along with it.)

Ka-chonk! Ping ping ping! Clickety-clickety-clickety! Tilt.

The New York Times has a story on Melrose Park's Stern Pinball, Inc., the last of the coin-op pinball game manufacturers

Signs of Trouble for the Chicago Spire?

Garrett Kelleher's development group didn't meet property tax filing deadlines in March. Is it a sign of trouble, or is everything moving along just fine?

Macy's on State Still Sounds Wrong

There's a lot of talk about what Chicagoans want in this article about Macy's plans to customize store offerings according in some markets -- but most Chicagoans would probably still say they want Marshall Field's back.

Button Up

Carfree Chicago has launched a new line of L Stop buttons for fashionistas who are interested in displaying neighborhood pride, support for public transit, or both. The buttons' bright, bold colors are perfect for springtime.

Happy Record Store Day!

No idea how this slipped by our notice, but today is Record Store Day. And with the plethora of great indie record stores in this fine city, you can put down the iTunes gift card for just one day and go crate-digging.

Have Room for a Brew Pub?

Goose Island's Clybourn Brew Pub, which it has occupied since 1988, will close by the end of the year.

Dick's Creating Controversy in Marina City

Dick's Last Resort's plan to move into Marina City and add "garage-style" doors along the river is meeting opposition from residents.

A-Spiring Owners

There's apparently a lot of interest in those multi-million-dollar condos in the Chicago Spire -- in Malaysia.

Fish Food

Rationally, there's no reason these two businesses can't coexist.

Late Registration, Graduation ...Vacation?

Kanye Travel Ventures. No, really.

Serious Cash for Elementary Schoolers

Thanks to Ariel Capital, students at Ariel Community Academy get to practice investing with $20,000 that's given to each first grade class. Don't worry, they don't get to touch it until sixth grade.

Newest Fashion Craze: Walgreens Clothing

Walgreens, everyone's favorite fine fashion and apparel boutique, is rolling out a new clothing line next week. What's it called, you ask? Casual Gear.

The 'Merc' of Distinction

When it becomes official, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange's deal to buy Nymex (the New York energy exchange) for $9.4 billion will make the Merc the the largest financial exchange in the world, according to the Financial Times.

Hello, Motos

Motorola will soon be two separate publicly traded companies.

Green Meets Blue

Just in time for Earth Day and Arbor Day, local sustainability company Live It Green, LLC has gotten Gerber Bars to offer the Treetini -- a martini for the environmentally conscious -- during the month of April at Whiskey Blue, Whiskey Sky bars and Mexx Kitchen at the Whiskey. Every Treetini sold results in a tree planted in India.

Coming Earth Day: Organic Frangos

Starting on April 22, Earth Day, one will be able to purchase organic Frango mints at 70 Macy's locations, as well as online. Bonus: the Trib apparently believes the news to be so big it printed the last paragraph twice.

Bought a Calder Print Lately?

Two Northbrook men are among seven arrested in a bust of counterfeit art rings that sold thousands of counterfeit pieces to art buyers around the world.

Give the Buttons a Haircut

I've always been a fan of Busy Beaver's collateral branding; glad I'm not the only one.

Wither Wilson Yard?

Vacant Lot Magazine takes a look at Wilson Yard, the 5-acre plot of now-vacant land next to the CTA tracks between Wilson and Montrose. [via]

Commodity Exchanges, A Timeline

Starting with the establishment of the Chicago Board of Trade in 1848, Reuters walks us through commodity exchange history.

Sonic Booming in Aurora

Those ubiquitous Sonic hamburger commericals may finally have some relevance to the Chicago area when the company opens their first regional outlet in Aurora. All of which mean the two guys in the commercials, Chicago improv giants TJ Jagodowski and Peter Grosz, may finally be able to purchase some of the food they've been shilling.

How to Market a Building Internationally

Given that the Chicago Spire is a speculative building, there's the question of how to raise the funds. Apparently one way is to host exhibitions in a variety of cities, such as Dublin, Hong Kong and Singapore, about which this release was written.

Foreclosure Lawsuits? 95. Years? 3.

The Sterling Private Residences can now claim the title of reigning Chicago Foreclosure King. Way to go! (If you are a premium subscriber to Crain's, you can read the full article.)

Bathroom Fixtures for Your Neighborhood

Well, at least if you live in Logan Square or Wicker Park.

What About Lox?

A baker in Vienna may have invented the bagel, but it took a Chicago suburb to stuff it with cream cheese, flash freeze it, and sell it to you as a nutritious breakfast choice. Favorite quote: "The product is designed so that the cream cheese will stay cool even after long periods of heating."

Putting People Back in the Illinois Center

The Chicago Loop Alliance recently released redevelopment suggestions for the Michigan Avenue side of the Illinois Center. One sample idea: a "modern adaptation of the Spanish Steps in Rome."

Looking for Work?

Crain's has posted their annual list of the best places to work in Chicago.

Political Donations = Zoning Changes

Reviewing 5,700 zoning changes confirms that developers' campaign contributions are linked to upzoning.

Documenting a Dying Profession

The Trib offers an article and some video features about the movie Floored, which is currently documenting the lives of the open-outcry traders on the CME.

Chicago Boys

Jersey Boys has now officially taken up residence in our fair city.

McSkillet Mania

Calories, schmalories. Oak Brook-based McDonald's is dishing out free McSkillet burritos this Thursday and Friday morning (The catch: You have to buy a drink.). Yeah, it has 610 calories and 36 grams of fat, but...what the heck, it's free!

Bean Sprouts in Chi-Town

Outdoor apparel giant L.L.Bean is moving to the Midwest region and has picked the Chicago area (actually Barrington) as the site of its first area store. The clothing will be perfect for hiking the local mountains: Mount Prospect, Mount Greenwood...

Free Caffeine ...

... Not "Caffeine-Free." With Starbucks shutting down all of its stores nationwide for three hours today due to a staff training sesh, Dunkin' Donuts is offering Chicagoans small lattes, cappuccinos and espressos for free between 1-10 p.m. Drink up!

The Perfect Dog-Gone Gift

What do you get your dog-owner friend who has everything, including a tendency to get lost? This tote bag for carrying dog toys, dog treats, and doggie bags to the dog park.

Fodder for Future Anthropologists

Kraft Foods Inc. announced Tuesday that it plans this year to roll out focaccia pizza, macaroni and cheese crackers and microwaveable bagel sticks filled with cream cheese.

Working for Charlie

Trotter talks business with Crain's.

Mid-Century Modern Jubilee

Looking for some new furniture? Want something cool, not too expensive, environmentally friendly? Do you want your money to benefit families in need instead of corporate execs in greed? Then head to Carol Stream on Fridays or Saturdays to visit Jubilee Furniture Company. They sell used furniture to raise money to support Outreach Community Ministries. And unlike many used furniture stores, they've got some wicked, cool stuff. Thanks,

Freshly Dipped

From the creators of Midwest-born Formula Werks comes Freshly Dipped, a site where you can find local art, wearables, and more. Right now, you'll find stuff for sale from local street artists Artillery, The Grocer and more.

Walk to the CTA

You'll always know where you're going in these shoes. [via]

Fighting Smoking One Room at a Time

Swissôtel Chicago is now paying $10 to staffers who catch guests smoking in their rooms. Guilty guests get charged $250 to defray the cost of deodorizing the room.

Developing Vultures

There are still people desperate to make a bundle in the now-busted housing development boom. So desperate that they harass senior citizens to get them to sell their homes, the Chicago Reporter finds, leading to an exodus of older residents out of the city.

Free Wi-Fi at Starbucks

You read that right. The evil grip of T-Mobile will be broken this Spring. Starbucks says it will start giving customers who buy stuff with a Starbucks purchase card two hours of free wireless access per day. Executives at Panera must be crying in the bread bowls right about now.

ShOprah

The Oprah Store officially opened over the weekend. No word yet if her bra is available there.

Bag the Bags

Speaking of recycling, there's a proposal before City Council to require stores to take back and recycle plastic bags, in hopes that the move would keep them out of dumps and trees. (Whole Foods already got rid of them.)

Fashions for Less

Through Feb. 29, recycled fashion hot-spot Buffalo Exchange offers a $5 discount off your next purchase of $20 or more at its Wicker Park (1478 N. Milwaukee) and Lakeview (2875 N. Broadway) locations. Stock up on those vintage threads.

Swap-o-Rama-Rama Comes to Chicago

The legendary Swap-o-Rama-Rama -- part swap meet, part political statement, part DIY Project Runway -- finally hies itself to Chicago on March 29 at the AV-aerie, 2000 W. Fulton. Bring $20 and a bag of your cast-off clothes, linens, and other goodies, then raid other people's stuff and gussy it up with the sewing machines, silkscreens, and other supplies on the premises. There will also be workshops and a fashion show. What is Swap-o-Rama-Rama, you ask? Watch this.

Greener than Candy

Daily Candy's nice, but for a greener option, there's now Ideal Bite, a weekdaily email written locally by Alison Lara.

Million Dollar Check, Please!

Business POV interviewed "Check Please!" executive producer David Manilow about CheckPlease.tv and his hopes for investment to bring the site to a national audience.

The Real Zoning Code

Want a zoning variance for your new oversized condo building? Make a campaign contribution to your alderman.

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out (Not In That Order)

Sex toy boutique owner Searah Deysach comes clean: She was a grad school dropout. Now she pulls in nearly $500,000 a year in total sales from her business, Early To Bed. There is a lesson in there for all of us.

Paper or...

Starting April 22 (that's Earth Day), Whole Foods stores will no longer give you the plastic bag option with your groceries. They'll still provide free paper bags, and you can purchase a cloth one from them for $.99, or, of course, you can byob (that's Bring Your Own Bag) from home.

Tickets? They've Got Your Tickets

Ticketmaster took yet another step towards full-on monopoly-hood by recently acquiring Chicagoland's TicketsNow.

Treasure Island to Fill Co-op Spot

Ending the recent struggles over the Co-op lease, the U of C has announced Treasure Island will fill the Co-op's current home.

Mozilla Hiring Humanized Humans

The Mozilla Foundation, makers of everyone's favorite browser, hired a bunch of the people running Chicago-based Humanized, maker of Enso and other software.

Gamers, Relax

That hot game you've been looking for? Chicago-based Dawdle can help you find it. It'll also help find that obscure Activision cartridge you remember playing in 1983.

Urschel Slicer Parts & Accessories - Cheap!

This item can be yours, along with lots more manufacturing equipment from Jays Foods Inc.'s South Side headquarters. It's all scheduled to be sold off during a public auction scheduled for Jan. 24.

Further Changes for the Sun-Times

Following recent job cuts, the Sun-Times moved to a slightly smaller format yesterday.

Upward Globility

As Chicago tries to rise in the global marketplace, Crain's has some suggestions how to improve its image.

Ones to Watch

We've been watching them for awhile, but Wired thinks 37signals is one of the top 10 startups to watch in 2008.

Smoke'em While You Still Can

The state-wide smoking ban goes into effect on Jan. 1; the Trib and Time Out lay out some of your options should you be desperate for an indoor smoke.

The Return of Belmont Army Surplus

Two long years after the CTA tore down Belmont Army Surplus, the store has finally reopened in a shiny new building down the block. If you've been saving up for a new Ben Sherman, big stompy boots or a secondhand German military rain poncho, head on over to the new four-floor store at 855 W. Belmont.

Bring Your Own Bottle

Chicago's new bottled water tax goes into effect in January, so get ready for "a black market for water" and other doom and gloom. I suppose that means you should also probably prepare for Waterworld.

Hard Boiled Getting Out of the Movie Biz

Roscoe Village's Hard Boiled Records and Video is dropping the "and video" part of its name to make room for more vinyl. All DVDs are priced to move, which means tons of last-minute holiday gifts for your loved ones who love indie films, foreign flicks, obscure TV series, and super-bloody Asian cinema. Nothing says Christmas cheer like Hong Kong action!

Circa Handmade 2.0

The New York Times ran an article about the popular DIY-crafting movement and mentioned the Chicago folks behind Circa Ceramics as a shining example of DIY-style success. There's still time to Pledge Handmade and buy gifts from them or one of the other Etsy sellers in Chicago.

Get Your Glogg On

The St. Lucia Festival of Lights procession will highlight the "Late-er Night Andersonville" celebration Thursday, Dec. 13, beginning at 3pm. In addition to the carole-filled walk down the Clark Street, there will be live music, tours and gift-wrapping demonstrations. There's also PDF schedule and a coupon you can print and clip for store discounts.

More Press for Unison

Local bedding designers Robert Segal and Alicia Rosauer, a.k.a. Unison, are in the latest edition of the uber-hip fashion/culture mag Metropop. Their graphics-heavy linens are reminiscent of Marimekko, where they used to design. Get them online or at CB2 stores.

Riverdale Can Read the Small Type

Crains has a nice map that shows neighborhoods with the most foreclosures per square mile in the first half of this year. Not pretty.

Spending Bucks in Bucktown

Dread the thought of giving another George Foreman Grill this Christmas? Hit the ninth annual Bucktown Holiday Art Show to buy one-of-a-kind gifts and original art for the folks on your list... or yourself. The event takes places this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Holstein Park Fieldhouse, 2200 N. Oakley Ave.

Welcome to Chicago, Onion Staffers

The Onion has moved all but one executive to our fair city.

Start Shopping

The holiday gift guides abound already: Chicago mag and Time Out and the Reader have theirs done; stay tuned for ours.

Pilsen Ham Processor Expands

Setting aside the great headline, this article is a nice little take on economic development smack dab in the middle of the city.

Clearly Not the Bank of Chicago

Bank of America made a rather unfortunate mistake when trying to convince Chicagoans it has "local commitment."

Tiny Shops All A-Glow

Andersonville shopping just got a little more indie. The Andersonville Galleria puts a bunch of micro-retailers under one roof, each with its own stall.

Long Lines in Cyberspace Too...

Having trouble buying that Christmas gift online this morning (when you should be working)? Get in line... literally. A study shows that many major retailers are having trouble handing the traffic coming to their websites by holiday slackers trying to avoid the malls.

Spendthrift Sissy's Mortal Enemy

The Cheapest Gay Man in America

T-Shirts for All

Threadless.com started its annual $10 holiday sale yesterday. Your mom probably loves good design and subtle irony; get her something nice here.

Leading by Example

I admit to having a huge soft spot in my heart for groups and organizations that work to empower groups that are traditionally underrepresented in positions of power. Since Chicago has the third largest Latino population in the country, you'd think we'd have more Latinos in positions of power. To help make that happen, the Metropolitan Leadership Institute was created to provide the skills necessary for taking charge of the business, political, or entrepreneurial worlds. Any group that can get a closed door, anything goes session with Mayor Daley is all right in my book.

GB at The DIY Trunk Show

The DIY Trunk Show, now in its fifth year, will play host to over 70 vendors of handmade goods and items. Gapers Block will be there up on the stage at Pulaski Park Auditorium, so feel free to stop by and say hello. We may even have some other goods on hand aside from the usual in the GB Shop.

Got the Need to Knit?

Nina, a yarn shop in Wicker Park, is celebrating it's third anniversary with a store-wide sale. If you've got your holiday knitting hat on, and get inspired by what you see at the DIY Trunk Show this weekend, head to Nina for 20 percent off everything in the store 11/17-11/18. Plus, there'll be prizes. And snacks. (Who doesn't like snacks?)

Useless Website Features

The abc7 website has a CEO Wealthmeter feature. Don't worry, wealthy CEOs, you're probably not on it; it only has six names so far.

Business Blogging

Crain's examines the phenomenon.

The Droids are Coming

The Google phone may still be aways off, but Elk Grove Village-based fontmaker Ascender already has your font pack ready.

Ventures in Babysitting

Congratulations are in order for Genevieve Thiers, founder of Chicago based Sittercity.com. The company, which allows parents and pet owners to research and hire sitters, won first place in the UPS Best "Out-of-the-Box" Small Business Contest.

Ask About Their Fall Incentives

As the condo market slows and creative meetings at ad agencies get more wacky, AdRants points us to an ad for a Printer's Row condo development with a highly Photoshopped image a woman's torso and legs over the call-to-action line of "surprisingly doable".

Sam Zell, Rough Rider

The New Yorker this week features a hefty profile of the new owner of the Chicago Tribune. (Thanks, Rick!)

Will Venerated Grocery Fly the Coop?

In a move typical of urban landlord schools, the University of Chicago is dangling an organic carrot in front of the venerated Hyde Park Co-op, promising to forgive their back rent if they'll close down and make way for a chain. The co-op has been beset by organizational and management problems for several years. The move would certainly spell the death of the 75-year-old grocer, long viewed as a model cooperative enterprise.

146 Geeks on the Street

Electronic Arts said Tuesday that it is shutting down its Chicago studio and laying off or relocating all 146 employees who worked there.

40 is the New 30

Crain's 40 Under 40 feature includes the usual collection of business execs -- and Jay Ryan of The Bird Machine and Ryan Schreiber of Pitchfork Media (I thought he moved to NYC?)

CB2 is Branching Out

In other Chicago retail expansion news, the NY Times City Room blog fawns over CB2's expansion to New York, albeit in its typical New York way.

Threadless in Person

Chicago Business posted a video profile of the Threadless retail store and included a mention of its "loose plan" to have stores in at least 11 cities by 2009.

Former IBM Plaza May be Landmarked

Amid flagging occupancy rates, luxury hotel ideas and changes in the downtown office market, Prime Group Realty Trust is seeking landmark status for the 1972 Mies van der Rohe structure.

Film & Fashion Night with Nau

Nau, the outdoor atelier whose clothes are eco-friendly is hosting a Film & Fashion Night in the South Loop on Tuesday, November 7th from 8pm to midnight. There's going to be BMX Ballet, food and drink (first drink free or so we hear) and other festivities. Learn about sustainable economy! It's free if you download, print and bring this ticket. More details in Slowdown.

A Self Made Man

Did you know that the founder of Selfridges, one of Britain's famed department stores, got his start in Chicago? (Thanks, Matt!)

Tetris Skyline

I had no idea Woot sold t-shirts, but this one is made for us.

Public Relations Gold

Remember the plane that lost luggage in air? Following reports that among the lost luggage was an American Girl doll whose owner was "sad and sleepless ... since the doll was sucked out of the cargo hold," American Girl stepped up and sent her a new doll.

Roar!

Mac addicts not participating in Friday's Critical Mass may want to head down to the Michigan Avenue store or other Apple temples at 6pm for the Leopard World Premiere and a chance at getting Apple swag.

Hard Boiled Anniversary Sale

Hard Boiled Records turns 11 years old on 11/1/07. So for the next 11 days everything in the store is 11% off the sticker price. Treat yourself to some discounted records, CDs, DVDs, comics, and zines at 2010 W. Roscoe in beautiful Roscoe Village.

Welcome Back, Frango

Well, if nothing else, Macy's made good on one promise: to bring Frango back to Chicago. Cupid Candies will make the mints in its southwest side plant.

That Great Street

Despite the Mag Mile's recent accolades, word is out that Block 37 may be host to retail locations from Apple, Coach, Puma, J. Crew and Zara.

Pret a Porter

We've mostly ignored Fashion Week here at GB, but Chicago Mag's Coda hasn't, covering the Genart Fresh Faces show and recommending our fashion scene get "a little definition."

Winged T-Shirts

When Threadless built their store, they did it the same way they developed their website -- they winged it. Crain's Entrepreneurs in Action feature covers the store and the company's plans for expansion.

Chicago: Fashion Capital?!

Fashion Focus Chicago kicks off today and features a slew of events, including runway shows, shopping tours, free business development seminars for local designers, and fashion-oriented exhibits throughout the week. Click here for a complete schedule.

Rio de Chicago

Crain's takes a look at the economic and business connections between Chicago and Brazil.

Power of the Purse

Noon Solar makes bags and purses with solar panels built in to charge your cellphone, ipod or whatever -- very cool. It's one of a couple companies mentioned in this article on the increasing number of women in DePaul's Coleman Entrepreneurship Center. [via]

Desk Work

E. Thomas Gimbel, owner of the LaSalle Network staffing and recruiting firm, is 6'6"; he's found that having a desk to stand behind instead of sit behind has improved his workday immeasurably. [via]

Fix Your Windows

Local software startup Humanized released a set of beta products yesterday. Beta products are small, free apps for Windows that do things like control your music player without actually looking at it, or perform search, language translation or mathematical typesetting wherever you need it.

12.8% Mortgage

The Chicago Reporter finds that the Chicago metropolitan area leads the nation in high-cost loans. The story is receiving serious attention and will be featured locally tomorrow on Eight Forty-Eight and the Cliff Kelley Show.

Design Sense

Stitch is "a rigorously edited selection of sleek home and personal furnishings." A very beautiful selection.

Chicago Is the Destination

Do you spend a lot of time scouring calendars looking to see which stores are having trunk shows and sales? Are you likely to plan a shopping day in Chicago? Then you just might be interested in Chicago Destination Shopping Club. After you become a member you can choose to either follow your favorite shops, or find out what is going on during any given day for you, your girlfriend, your bored male companion, or your antsy children in one of a handful of neighborhoods.

Crunch 'n Munch buys Fiddle Faddle and Poppycock

$45 million for locally-owned Lincoln Snacks.

Cheetah Gym Ex-Members, Unite!

Are you an abruptly ex-member of Cheetah Gym? You might be interested in joining this forum to discuss a possible class action lawsuit against the company. (Thanks, Robert!)

The Interactive Music and Coffee Experience

Apple's new iPod releases include an interesting partnership with Starbucks that will hit Chicago in March 2008. When you walk into a megalocoffee shop, you'll be able to see information about each song that's playing in the store as it plays and, of course, buy it and other iTunes songs. If you're interested in more information about the program, most pages on Apple's site currently list the wrong URL, so go here instead.

Whither Pork Belly Contracts?

The Sun-Times had fun with the news that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange was discontinuing the trading of pork bellies: "To cut the fat in preparation for its merger with the Chicago Board of Trade, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is cutting its pork bellies pit."

Blog and Business

Hey, score some brownie points at work and tell your boss that you want to attend the Blog Business Summit in Chicago this September 17-19. Check out the complete schedule for more info.

Skin Flicks

Chicago-based Mr. Skin is your number one source for who's naked in what movie; Business POV interviewed the founder, Jim McBride, and discovered it's also a $6 million-a-year moneymaker with 44 employees. (NSFW)

A More Swedish Batavia

Batavia's doing well in IKEA's Small Businesses, Big Dreams contest, in which cities compete for having up to ten small businesses remodeled by the company. Check out their entry, vote for them and help them do even better.

Nice Shirt

I'm digging the Chicago Shirt from Rock'n Clothing.

Attn: T-Shirt Nerds

The Threadless store is FINALLY opening on September 14. To celebrate, the Chicago-based t-shirt concern will also be throwing a party at Metro featuring Hey Mercedes, White Hot Knife, DJ Mother Hubbard and more. To get show tix, stop by the Threadless store starting September 10. More details in Transmission.

Say Hey, Let Me Play Too

The Cubs are for sale, and Ernie Banks wants in. Mr. Cub made an offer last year, before the Cubbies were available, and has talked to three of the investment teams getting ready to bid.

Darn Those Pesky Purchasing Managers

In the arcane world of economic data-gathering, the Chicago-based National Association of Purchasing Managers holds a hallowed spot. They say that their index fell to 53.4% in July from 60.2% in June. Bonus: the NAPM website seems to be currently "Hacked by Enqu!nx".

Not Getting Better for Macy's

As if Macy's year of problems wasn't enough, a man fell from an interior balcony at the State Street location yesterday.

A Year of Macy's

Inspired by recent bad news for Macy's (which includes the shutdown of the State Street store's food court and the closing of a Lake Forest store that had done business for 70+ years as Marshall Field's), Mike at Chicago Carless reviews the past year of Macy's gaffes.

The Political Becomes Edible

A new Whole Foods store is scheduled to open today at the corner of Addison and Halsted, in the Center on Halsted building, which is a community center for GLBT persons. According to an article in the Tribune, the Center is happy to have Whole Foods as a tenant, as it will not only act as a grocery store, but will also serve as a vehicle for promoting the Center's activities. Sounds warm and fuzzy, right?

The article went creepy on me, however, when it started talking about how "mainstream corporate America is increasing its efforts to woo gay and lesbian consumers," and cited heaps of statistics and anecdotes about how placing a business in the GLBT community can be a gold mine. Positive attention for the new store also comes at a good time for Whole Foods, given their (anti-Union) CEO's internet adventures, which have gotten the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Like a Big Family"

The Green Exchange, the proposed Logan Square environmental supercenter, is garnering serious national attention.

Hub to Hub

George Aye and Sara Cantor, the couple behind Hubwear, did a nice interview with Gridskipper.

We're #1!

Yup, Gas Prices in Chicago are on average the highest in the nation. $3.46 per gallon.

Smart in the Suburbs

The Smart Car is available in Chicagoland -- out of a tiny storefront on Route 14 in Palatine.

Bike Messenger POV

Ever wonder what it's like to be a bike messenger? Crain's tags along with Josh Corby, part owner of the Four Star Courier Collective, and shoots some first-person footage, slipping through traffic.

Area Gum Company Partners With Sports League

Monitoring corporate press releases so you don't have to: The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company and the National Basketball Association today announced a relationship that makes Wrigley's brands, Big Red, Juicy Fruit, Winterfresh, Doublemint and Wrigley's Spearmint the "Official Chewing Gum(s) of the NBA." Best quote: "'For years chewing Wrigley's has been as commonplace among NBA players as much as the crossover dribble,' said Mark Tatum, NBA Senior Vice President of Marketing Partnerships."

CME+CBOT=?

Shareholders of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade agreed to their pending merger, which means Chicago will be the world capital of commodities for the foreseeable future. There's already speculation that the new "CME Group, a Chicago Board of Trade company" (official acronym TBD) may start looking for more acquisitions.

The Money Train

This Op-Ed piece in the Sun-Times makes a good argument for a quick resolution to the public trans funding debate, pointing out that a good rail system is important for any city's, and by default the state's, economy, a realization already come to in other global financial centers.

Delving into the Past

Once you're done poking around in Architectural Artifacts, head over to Urban Remains, which specializes in salvaged items from the turn of the century to the 1930s, primarily in Chicagoland. (Photography fans should check out this page.)

Window Washers of Chicago

Meet Garcia de la Cadena, the Mexican village from which a disproportionate share of our window washers hail.

Give or Take 500 Million

Accounting fraud is nothing new. I mean everyone knows its soooo turn of the millennium. Still this instance of a misrepresented hedge fund is notable for two reasons. One, the shear dollar amount missing, half a billion bucks, and two, the fund is run by the former chairman of the Merc.

As Seen on TV: the Oprah Store

If you want to hold an "O Baby" hat and mittens set before you buy it, you may soon be able to head to 57 N. Carpenter to visit the Oprah Store.

Major South Loop Development

In the arithmetic of today, 8 acres = 3,000 homes + 1 hotel + (unspecified) stores + 1 marina. Now this developer needs to turn in its homework on time.

Striking in the Conference Room

Jack Flash, singer-guitarist for the local band Bang! Bang!, has been wearing thrift-store ties cut into lightning bolts for some time -- and now you can too. Bang Bang Ties are professionally tailored (not by Flash) and are available online and at Strange Cargo. [via]

Kill Your Automated Operator

Bringo is a Chicago-based web company that helps you find a dentist. Even more useful, though, it'll get you past those annoying automated phone trees. Awesome.

"Let's Change The World"

The AP's feature on Chicago's own ShoreBank, chronicles the bank's success as the nation's first community development and environment bank.

Help Pay for the New Roof

If you live in a condo building, you might be interested in CondoPerks, a new service that lets condo association members earn money for the association by shopping online. Help defray that landscaping bill bit by bit!

Hounds Called Off

The Hoffman Estates-based Chicago Hounds United Hockey League team is closing shop after only a year in business due to issues with their home rink, the Sears Centre.

Another Billboard Controversy

A billboard for a spa in Glenview diagramming a woman's physical flaws (and their cosmetic solutions) is drawing fire from local women. "I don't want to sound like a chauvinistic pig, but this is a man's world," the spa owner said, refusing to take the ad down.

Looking for a Creative Father's Day Gift?

This Father's Day, give dad something different -- like a comfy Cozy Blanket from Wilmette-based Nice'n Cozy. It makes a great gift for someone with arthritis or physical limitations, a dad recovering from surgery, or an avid reader. (It has handy arm slits so you can cover up and still hang on to books, remotes, beer, whatever.) It also functions as a nice travel blanket -- in place of those "who knows when they were last cleaned" airline blankets.

The Fastest Growing Firm In Chicago

According to Crain's Chicago Business the fastest growing company in Chicago(land) during 2007 is Convergint Technologies. Here's a look at the rest of the "Fast 50".

FeedGoogler

The rumor is now official: Feedburner has been purchased by Google. Here's Feedburner's official announcement.

Area Food Company Makes Bacon More Convenient

Onion-esque story on ChicagoBusiness.com re: new resealable bacon packaging from Kraft Foods. Snip: "We listened to people's concerns about traditional bacon packaging and designed the Stay-Fresh Reclosable Tray to help solve those issues," Beth Goeddel, Oscar Mayer senior brand manager, said in a release. "We think our new packaging is the 'best thing since sliced bacon' and are thrilled to provide an innovative and practical solution that sets the standard for bacon product packaging."

Near Wrigley Field? Save Some Moolah!

The nice people at OutoftheBallpark, an online offering with tons of tips outside the ordinary Wrigleyville joints, are offering tasty discounts from local businesses. Just go to the 'Valuable Discounts' section and check out the tremendous savings at many of your favorite area shops and restaurants, and be sure to sign up to receive coupons, as well as new offers as they become available.

ORD to MDW

Hubwear has redesigned, and boy does it look good. Time to pick up a new travel t-shirt. (And speaking of t-shirts, Threadless is having another big sale this week.)

Another "Independent" Theater

Sundance Cinemas announced it will open a new eight screen theater in Chicago. It'll be located in the West Loop when it opens ... in Spring 2009.

Furniture for Easy Living

Wickes Furniture opens its first downtown store this morning at 2606 N. Elston, around the corner from Target. Go check out the "urban innovations" furniture displays by WNUA and LITE-FM deejays and other noted hip, fashionable people.

A Single North American Currency?

At a speech at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge hinted at the possibility of a regionally unified currency. Don't think it's going to happen any time soon, however, considering thickening "labor flows" are currently in the way.

Win a Free Interior Design Consultation

Urban Source, a hip walk-in retail design studio offering fabrics and finishes formerly available only to the trade, is celebrating their two-year anniversary - and you're getting the gifts! Starting May 29, Urban Source will be giving away five free one-hour design consultations. Grab an entry at their showroom starting May 22.

We're Number One...

in average gas prices. Um, huzzah?

Google Buying Feedburner?

Interesting rumors are popping up about Google purchasing local RSS feed company Feedburner for about $100 million in order to move into the RSS ad market. GigaOm isn't so sure the deal makes sense.

More Bad News for Giant Chain Stores

On the heels of the news that the Uptown Borders is looking to bail, the Virgin Megastore on Michigan is also about to shut down. The store will close in July and be replaced by the saucy styles of a really, really big Forever 21.

Swap Met

Man, we were all set to tell you about the awesome Jay Ryan poster that went on sale yesterday over in Coudal.com's Swap Meat, but they sold out before morning. So instead, go check out the equally awesome Brendan Dawes C-prints of 2001: A Space Odyssey and all the other cool stuff.

The Influence of Chicago Dollars

Chicago Public Radio documents a town with more than 50% of its residents in the United States, many of whom are in Chicago. With the help of a Hometown Club (founded by a Chicago immigrant), for every migrant dollar donated, local, state and federal governments donate a dollar each. In this way, dollars from the United States fund town projects and are hoped to curb out-migration.

That Was Fast

Remember the divorce billboard from yesterday? It was removed for permit violations before the end of the day.

37signals' Business Philosophy

Those familiar with 37signals will have heard a lot of this before, but Business POV's interview with Jason Fried gets to the heart of the company in a pretty succinct manner.

"Life's Short. Get a Divorce.''

Fetman, Garland & Associates, Ltd. is getting aggressive with their new ad campaign. As one might expect, it's generating controversy.

Get French! Urm, Fresh!

The Nettelhorst French Market opens this Saturday, April 28th, from 8am to 2pm. Go for farm-grown fruits and veggies, flowers so fresh they'll last way into next week, yummy pastries and breads, handmade crafts and other assorted goodies. It's at 3252 N. Broadway (at Melrose) and runs every Saturday through the first week in November.

Traveller's Journey Ending

As reported previously on GB, the fantastic guidebook & travel gear store The Savvy Traveller is losing its lease. This week, signs have appeared in the shop's window that say they're closing up at the end of this month. They're currently selling off their entire stock at deep discounts; today you can get 40% off your purchases, and if you wait until Friday, everything in the store is 50% off. This is your final chance to stop by the corner of Jackson & Michigan to stock up on all your travelling needs, so please stop by, do some shopping and wish them bon voyage!

Get Out of the Ballpark!

And onto this new web site: Out of the Ballpark is "the everything that's close to Wrigley Field guide" that boasts info on dining "beyond peanuts," a handy shopping guide for folks who aren't looking just for jerseys and ballcaps, maps and travel guides and more. Great for out-of-towners and locals alike.

Olympic Arts

With all of the hubbub about the Olympics, there's an argument that sports shouldn't get all of the attention. In a city currently alive with Version>07, and soon to have Artropolis going too, art should also be at the forefront. Tribune art critics provide a few conceptions of how art could work with the Olympics.

What LaSalle Bank's Sale Really Means To Us

The $21 billion sale of LaSalle Bank to Bank of America is a relatively small part of one of the largest financial mergers ever by LaSalle's soon-to-be-former parent company. Global implications, yadda yadda. I'm more concerned with speculating how the deal will affect our civic life: will BoA close some superfluous branches, thereby freeing up some storefronts for businesses that are actually useful and enjoyable? Seriously, Chicago is drowning in bank branches. And what's the fate of the LaSalle Bank Cinema, or the only-christened-last-May LaSalle Bank Theatre? "Bank of America Theatre"? Gross.

City of the Future

When it comes to being recognized by obscure financial rags, we're #1. Chicago won "City of the Future" designation from Foreign Direct Investment, a "specialty magazine published by the Financial Times group for C-level executives and their professional advisors."

An Expensive Hat

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher was fined $100,000 for wearing an unsanctioned hat during an NFL event. I wonder how much additional advertising this fine will provide for the brand in question.

NAU Open

The uber-hot outdoor clothing company Nau, which focuses on sustainable and ethical clothing and a new business model as well, is now open in Chicago. Not to mention the fact that their clothes don't look like the neo-hippie earth tones of typical outdoor equipment manufacturers — this stuff can be worn to a club after you're done climbing that rock face. The Chicago retail store (one of four across the country) opened this morning. Where are they? 2118 North Halsted.

Cubs as Commodity

Take a gander at the queue for buying "a shrine, a team and a great place to watch baseball."

Help Wanted at Coudal

From FoGB Jim Coudal: "We need some help with Swap Meat, Jewelboxing and some other projects this summer. We need an intern. We pay interns and we expect a lot from them. If you're the one, [email info@coudal.com] with the phrase "C'est Moi" in the subject line, and send us something to prove it."

Chicago History Roundup

From the establishment of the Hull House Theater to the World's Columbian Exposition, the Sun Times lists their take on "The 50 Greatest Chicago Moments."

Records'n'Stuff

The WLUW Record Fair & Other Delights is next weekend, and there are still a couple booths available should you want to unload some of your music -- or posters, crafts, clothes, whatever. Get on it now!

Click!

Photobooth-o-philes, get excited! You'll soon be able to take a zany picture of yourself and your close friends at Quimby's.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game or China

As it turns out, Crain's has a pretty decent photo gallery. The most recent set documents the White Sox opener, while previous features range from McDonald's in China to Delhi, India.

Use the Force (to Pick a Stamp Design)

R2D2 is roaming the city, and it wants you to visit the "Jedi Shipping and Mailing Master" to vote for your favorite Star Wars stamps.

The Last Lamb and Veal Slaughterhouse in Chicago

Now that Easter and Passover are almost here, the New York Times offers two features on Chiappetti Lamb and Veal. NOTE: The first link is a TimesSelect article, so if you aren't enrolled in the program, you can either sign up or start a free trial. If you are a student or faculty member with a .edu email address, you can get a full account for free right now.

Tilty's Take

Now that our hometown airline, United, isn't so far in the red, it's time for all the execs to take their cut. CEO Glenn Tilton got a cool $23.8 million, CFO Jake Brace got $10.4, COO Pete McDonald got $13.2 and so on. The head of the Association of Flight Attendants said that her stews got $40. Each. For the year. It gets complicated when you consider the contracts each party struck with the company, but man! Tilty's got this round.

Tribune ownership staying in Chicago?

Bloomberg News is quoting sources close to the Tribune Co. auction as saying Tribune will probably accept the $8 billion takeover offer from native Chicagoan Sam Zell by the end of the week.

No Longer Building Solo

Solo Cup officially abandoned its new factory plans and will sell its portion of the former U.S. Steel South Works site. The new owner, Southworks Development LLC will fold the new property into its existing holdings and create a multi-use development. To put the project into context, the development area, including adjoining parkland, is bigger than the Loop.

This Week in Commercial Real Estate

Lowe's is building a second store in Chicago -- this time on a 50-acre former steel plant site at 83rd and Stewart, just off the Dan Ryan Expressway. The Burlington Free Press reports that local fav Burton Snowboards is opening a store here. Lastly, keep tabs on 108 North State here at the live Block 37 cam.

"Final" Chicago Spire Design Unveiled

While Calatrava claims he will "keep on working on the shape of the building to the very end," Crain's is calling the latest Chicago Spire design the "final plans." Of course, no one knows if the building will actually get built, but design advances and political maneuvering continue.

Plan Your Bus Trip

The RTA actually listened to a customer, reports the CTA Tattler: you can now choose "buses only" on the RTA Trip Planner. (Meanwhile, the RedEye now has a CTA blog of its own.)

Another Reason to Shop Locally

That huge Borders in Uptown that was supposed to save the neighborhood three years ago by bringing retail and luxury condos to the area? Yeah, it's probably gonna close, along with the one on Clark & Diversey, one on North Ave., and one in Hyde Park. Because once The Man starts losing money, he no longer cares for your precious "community." Or so I've heard.

Carson's Still Interested in the City

Now that the flagship Carson Pirie Scott store is closed, word has it the department store is interested in opening a new location in the South Loop.

Craft Racket: Round 2

Are you a crafty business owner looking to learn better ways of doing things? Have you found the better way and you're hoping to find people to listen? The Chicago Craft Mafia would love you to join them at their 2nd Craft Racket, a networking event geared toward small business owners (especially those that are crafty). Details in Slowdown, or course.

March Merger Madness, Global City Style

The merger of the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange may be derailed by a new offer from Atlanta's Intercontinental Exchange. The good news for Chicago is the Atlanta folks want to come to us, so the city will retain the CBOT, regardless.

St. Patty's Shopping

Once you've had your fill of green beer (or better yet, beforehand), head over to the Empty Bottle for this month's Handmade Market, where you'll find everything from soaps to jewelry to accessories made of recycled bike tires. Details in Slowdown.

Do Not Feed Gum to Your Dog

Don't be distracted by Wrigley's announcement that it will launch a sensory "invigorating" gum called "5" this summer. Their Product FAQ offers so much more, including an important dog related item.

How Much for a Really Nice Week?

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange will be adding weekly weather futures in April. I'll take 15 degrees above average in Chicago for next week, please!

A Neighborhood's Tribute to Barack Obama

You're probably overwhelmed by articles about Barack Obama by now, but if you're still interested in learning about his local roots, you may want to check out the Hyde Park Herald's special Obama issue. The entire 24-page issue is Obama-centric, including a lengthy article about his wife, Michelle.

YouTube at the Bar

Tap.tv, a Burr Ridge-based technology company, has set up a YouTube-esque video jukeboxes at several area bars. To use LiveBar.net, you upload videos to the site, then text a code to the service when you're out at, say John Barleycorn or Moe's Cantina. The jukebox will then switch from whatever random video it was playing to yours, all for free. So far it's almost entirely commercials and "Family Guy" scenes.

Tech Kind of Town, Chicago Is

Participate Media CEO Alan Warms has some thoughts about the benefits of being a tech start-up in Chicago.

West Side Story

Is Wal-Mart playing nicey-nice? Whatever your opinion, execs see the West Side Chicago store as a success, and are citing it as one reason for further expansion into areas with high unemployment.

Block 37

With cranes and earth moving equipment working on Block 37, Chicago Magazine has a nice summary of current events. After you read up on the block, view what's going on now from the comfort of your computer.

I Got Your Hurricane Contract Right Here

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange announced yesterday that it will expand its weather derivatives product line with a scheduled launch of CME-Carvill Hurricane Index futures and options on futures contracts. Research before you buy.

Olympic Sized Donor Pool

Chicago 2016, the campaign to bring the Olympics here, is throwing its first public fundraiser March 1, and it already has $6 million in ticket sales.

The Anti-Valentine Store

Feeling not-so down with Cupid? Chicagoist and Apartment Therapy point us to a pop-up store from Altoids in Lincoln Park aiming to provide "the lovesick, lovelorn and Cupid-wary of Chicago ... a sanctuary from all the romantic overtures." Stop in between now and Valentine's Day and get free chocolate-dipped Altoids, coffee and cupcakes from Angel Food Bakery, anti-Valentine's cards and more. Yes, all for free. Open noon to 10pm at 912 W. Armitage Ave.

From Buildings to Papers?

The latest news about the Tribune's potential sale: Billionaire real estate mogul Sam Zell is said to be interested in buying the company.

ZAPping the Chicago Auto Show

ZAP!, a company that specializes in designing alternative and fuel-efficient automotive systems, will release its electric XEBRA car at the Chicago Auto Show. Priced at $10,000 with an operating cost of one cent per mile, it could certainly be a high-value commuter car.

You Trendsetter, You

Denizens of Lincoln Park and frequenters of Escape: Your days as Best Buy lab rats are over. Bye bye, "hip hang-out."

Not Cheese at All

As Altria (formerly Philip Morris) prepares to spin-off suburban food giant Kraft, Crain's Chicago Business asks "What is 'Real Kraft Cheese'?" There's a hint in our title.

Travelling On

Another long-standing Chicago business is closing. This time it's The Savvy Traveller, the Michigan Avenue bookstore and gift shop that specializes in items for travellers. According to signs in the store's window, the business has lost its lease and is closing down after 22 years of business. If you find yourself near the corner of Michigan and Jackson sometime soon, don't forget to stop in for one last browse through the guide books, luggage, neck pillows and travel games.

Aqua Teen Hunger (Terrorist) Force

The Aqua Teen Hunger Force advertisements that caused serious problems in Boston have been in Chicago for weeks. After all of the hubbub in Boston, most of ours were collected last night. [If you happened to snap a photo of the Chicago Ignignokts/Errs, please post it to our flickr pool for all to enjoy.]

It's Not Delivery, It's Charity

This week is National Take-Out & Delivery Week, and GrubHub has teamed up with Meals on Wheels to make it an extra-special nonholiday: for every meal ordered through the site through Feb. 4, GrubHub will donate one meal to Meals on Wheels.

January is Dumping Season

January is the most popular time to get dumped, according to Crain's Chicago Business. Divorce lawyers and dating services count this period--right after the holidays and before Valentine's Day--as as the busiest time of year, as many find it the right moment to shake an unwanted relationship loose and move on. Among the dating services flooded with applicants at the moment are the Eight on Eight Dinner Club and Gourmet Dating.

Disappointed Fans and Blocked Media

The Mount Prospect Costco turned away disappointed fans and at least one camera crew after it stipulated that William "Refrigerator" Perry could only sign Costco-bought items. (Video has additional details.)

Humanized Launches Enso

Humanized, a local software start-up, just launched their premier product, and did it with a bang: the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg wrote a favorable review of Enso today. If you're on Windows, it's worth checking out. (Disclosure: I'm their PR guy, but I still thinks it's cool. Can't say that about all my clients.)

O'Donovan's Contract Asshattery

Over on Ask.MetaFilter, someone has posted about O'Donovan's canceling his friend's contract for a Super Bowl party without notice, even though it's been on the books for over a month. Keep that in mind next time you're looking for a place to host a party.

DvA Gallery Sale

The DvA Gallery at 2658 N. Lincoln Ave. is having a sale this month. Check out some seriously cool retro-inspired illustration by artists such as Jeremiah Ketner and Amanda Visell. [via]

Shopping, Now With More Green

The Green Exchange, Logan Square's proposed "green merchandise mart" has launched its website. Dedicated towards green living, the site offers building plans, an FAQ and a forum to discuss the building and issues surrounding its development. [Hat tip: Craig]

Monkey Money Madness

Those wacky Sun-Times staffers are at it again with this year's monkey stock market picks. As you'd expect, "Mr. Adam Monk," the primate in question, has beaten the major indices for the last four years. After you take in the monkey madness, pull a stock out of a hat and enter their contest for most appreciating stock.

And Nau for Something Completely Different

The February issue of Outside magazine (with Shaun White on the cover) has a great article about Portland-based start-up outdoor clothing company Nau, which is about to open stores online and nation-wide this spring (including a Chicago spot). This isn't your standard jacket and ski goggle venture, however.

Not willing to add to the petroleum-based synthetic fibers that are at the core of most outdoor clothing, they've spent millions creating breathable, beautiful and strong fabrics from unusual sources. They've got gorgeous jackets made from recycled soda bottles and silky base layers made from corn (no, really!). Look to buy online at the end of January, or in person at their Chicago store (one of only a four total to open this spring) which is due to open in mid-April in Lincoln Park, at 2118 N. Halsted.

Chicago's Video Game Influence

Online gaming magazine Gamasutra just released the final installment of its five-part series on Chicago game studios. The final stop is Midway.

Shop at Threadless

Fairly soon, you'll be able to shop at Threadless in person (besides stopping by their Ravenswood headquarters, that is). The first store has been spied at 3011 N Broadway, the old Leather on Leather Ltd. location in Wrigleyville.

They Beat Us To It

Some of you may know that Naz and I are the guys behind El Boton (limited edition pins make a great gift, by the way). We're a bit jealous, therefore, that Coudal Partners beat us to this great idea.

Choose Your Own Card-venture

If you're just not finding a card that says it all for you, then why not fill in your own words? Loaded Blanks are a series of cards created by two Chicagoans: cartoonist Ezra Claytan Daniels and punk rocker Heather Kortan and drawn by young cartoonists where you can fill in the speech bubbles for the characters and items depicted on the front and inside.

Themes range from a spelunking Santa to a Hanukkah journey to that one card perfect for the Apocalypse. You can find them at Chicago stores Chicago Comics, Quimby's Books and Women and Children First as well as online.

Who Could Have Known?

Marshall Field's shoppers haven't been shopping at Macy's on State, which hasn't gone unnoticed by Federated Department Stores. They're reaching out with coupons and newspaper ads, but it's probably too late to salvage this holiday season. Meanwhile, the folks at Fieldsfanschicago.org are encouraged.

YoChicago's Pilsen Week

YoChicago is dedicating much of this week's coverage to Pilsen, with reviews, real estate coverage, and much more. Their YouTube Pilsen playlist is especially worth checking out.

NPR spotlights Threadless

As their catalog and network of designers and friends increases, so too the public profile of Chicago-based Threadless. On today's "Morning Edition," NPR ran a business profile of the online company's success and popularity.

Know Any Orson Welles Fans?

Or fans of Nicholas Cage, Yoshiyuki Tomino, or US drug laws? Just in time for the holidays, you can bid on four very special autographed movie posters and benefit the Chicago International Film Festival. The auction runs until 15 December.

Posh Gifts

I miss its old location on Southport, and I wish it still carried more real restaurant china instead of reproductions, but I still love P.O.S.H. Where else in the city can you find a cat butt plate and a vintage Italian army belt?

Give a Little Piece of Chicago for Xmas

Now you can shop for Chicago skyline ornaments, calendars and El map neckties from the warm comfort of your computer. Three City of Chicago stores have gone online to bring you Chicago-themed holiday items, apparel, audio and video, and even some relics from the city's past including wares from the Cultural Center, Gallery 37 and the City of Chicago store on Pearson. Proceeds from sales support the Department of Cultural Affairs, free public programming and the programs of Gallery 37.

Nice Holiday Cards

Picked out your holiday cards yet? If not, consider a set created by one of the students in Marwen's after-school art education program. (Thanks, Maureen!)

Chicago's Crazy for the Crafty

Seriously! There are a craftload of shows and sales this weekend. So, um, why are you going to the mall? Local First Chicago might be able to tell you exactly why buying local is buying better.

Keep Yer Movie Away from My Manger

There's room at the Christkindlmarket for a nativity scene (as well as Islamic and Jewish holiday symbols), but not for The Nativity Story. The movie was dropped as a sponsor because the City thought the marketing was "too aggressive."

It's Time to Get Crafty, Depart-ment Style

It's that time of year again when our pocket books decrease and our closets get filled with gifts for giving. So, why not this year steer clear of big guys in brand names, and head for the individual artisan, and you can find them all under a single roof at the DEPART-ment. It's one-stop shopping — the crafty way. Items such as clothing, wallets, art and more are for sale, and are displayed on familiar racks and wall-hangings so you can still sift through the mad-holiday rush. Note to shoppers: this is cash only joint, so put the plastic away this time. If you forget your green, ATMs are located inside the building. Crafty shopping commences Dec. 1st.

In The Black

Happy Black Friday, "the busiest shopping day of the year." The Tribune and Sun-Times both assure readers that Chicagoans are, believe it or not, out shopping. If you're just waking from a tryptophan coma, you've probably missed out on PS3s and $474 52" HD TVs, so shop smarter, not harder. (You don't even have to leave your desk.)

We Warned Them

The CEO of Federated Department Stores tells the Trib that the switch from Marshall Field's to Macy's has been tougher than expected. Duh. However, the former Field's stores helped Federated report its best months ever in September and October.

Apartment Therapy's Top Choices

Apartment Therapy Chicago is putting together a best-of list with your help -- over the next few weeks, add your two cents for bests in a variety of categories; your first being shops for modern gifts.

Redevelopment Goes Both Ways

As a sort of companion piece to the NYTimes article about our city being overrun with condos, here's a story in the Wall Street Journal about the successful conversion of the old Montgomery Ward warehouse into the flourishing 600 West Chicago.

Following the Money Underground

The "underground economy" of the South Side is the subject of this great article in the Boston Globe.

Saint Style

St. Alfred, the sneaker mecca in Wicker Park, is also responsible for some of the fresher Chicago-centric T-shirts around. Hypebeast has a preview of their newest line (I'm especially liking Skateboard C).

KFC and McD's Vow to Lose the Fat

In a competition over who's on first, KFC and McDonald's Corporation have announced cutbacks in the use of trans fats in their products. KFC has proposed using low linolenic soybean oil in some foods, while their biscuits and mashed potatoes would still contain the stuff. Oak Brook-based McDonald's, which promised in 2002 to remove trans fats from its menu completely, is still in the process of becoming trans-free.

Dominick's Redo

According to Crain's, Lakeview residents are very close to getting a new Dominick's to replace the one that burned down two summers ago. Three floors of condos are proposed to top the store at 3012 N. Broadway. It's a nice idea, but I'd probably still be too lazy to get milk.

Need New Specs, Four Eyes?

If you're looking for that perfect pair of eyeglasses, the dudes at the Lakeview and Bucktown Eye Spy Optical stores can totally hook you up. All this month, Eye Spy is holding exclusive trunk shows for a range of eyewear designers. Check out their site for a complete calendar.

What's New at Rotofugi

Man, the crew down at Rotofugi are rockin' Chicago with some great upcoming events and artist appearances, including Nathan Jurevicius, MAD, Sket One and more. Check out their site for a full list of dates and times.

In the Market for a Rollercoaster?

If so, head out to East Dundee for the Santa's Village auction. Don't forget to check out the full catalog [PDF] and supplementary photos so you'll be fully prepared to bid.

Forty Under Forty

Speaking of 37signals, president Jason Fried and partner David Heinemeier Hansson were named two of Crain's top Forty Under Forty this week. Also on the list are GB faves Jake Nickell and Jacob DeHart of Threadless and John Tolva of Ascent Stage. Go here for a full list of the youthful accomplisments.

Lover Caught My Eye on the 'L'

This morning, while reading my issue of Time Out Chicago on the 'L', this Critics' Pick item caught my eye. Lover is an adorable and pricey clothing line from Australia, which after months of anticipation has finally hit Chicago, landing at Hejfina. Among other chic brands, the upscale boutique in Wicker Parker carries Les Prairies des Paris--the kind of clothes Audrey Hepburn would wear. By the way, I applaud Steve Johnson, who recently wrote a letter to the Gap demanding they give us our Audrey back.

Buy! Buy! Buy!

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange is buying the Chicago Board of Trade for $8 billion, in a move to create a global derivatives exchange.

Afrocentric Bookstore Still Going Strong

The Chicago Defender has a nice profile of the Afrocentric Bookstore. First "opened 16 years ago at the back of a beauty supply store" on South Wabash, the independent bookstore is now located on South King Drive near 47th Street in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. As the Defender writes, "Afrocentric Bookstore has all the ingredients to warrant second and third helpings: friendly and knowledgeable staff, a wide selection of books and a desire to help you find what you came looking for."

37 Gigs

A lot more than that actually: 37signals has launched a gig board to complement their popular job board. Get your résumé in shape!

Cubs Leave the City

No, not the lovable losers -- Cub Foods. The discount grocery chain is leaving the Chicago market, with its 14 stores being divvied up among several other companies. Meanwhile, Jewel is planning an expansion.

Econobloggers on Municipal Minimum Wage

While the big-box issue may currently be at an impasse, living wage concerns will not soon go away. We've asked your opinion in the past; today, the Wall Street Journal's Econoblog solicits the competing counsel of two experts.

Do not pass (Chica)go

Got some room on your game shelf next to the Chicago Monopoly, the Chicago Bears Monopoly, and the White Sox Monopoly? Then you'll be needing Monopoly: Here and Now Edition, which includes among its contemporary properties to purchase two Chicago landmarks: Wrigley Field ($3 million to purchase, but a mere $260,000 to rent); and O'Hare Airport (the board game designers, in updating the game to the present day, have replaced the original game's railroads with airports). Monopoly: Here and Now, which has on its board the most popular US properties as voted on by Monopoly fans, goes on sale tomorrow.

Chicago's Climate Exchange

With global warming getting a lot of press recently, it's interesting to note that Chicago hosts North America's first market for trading contracts for CO2 emissions at the Chicago Climate Exchange.

Trib and Sun-Times ♥ Macy's?

The Columbia Journalism Review Daily takes the city's mainstream media to task for its "uncritical coverage" of the losses of Field's and Carson's. CJR thinks the press could use a little more healthy skepticism about the evolution of State Street; instead, they say, "the coverage has been strangely uncritical, bordering even on the boosterish." What's more, in the stories about the department stores' handovers, the opposing quotes have come largely from the superannuated. Given the strong opinions proffered here in Fuel and the many younger faces at Saturday's anti-Macy's demonstration, I wonder if the dailies really weren't trying hard enough.

The wearing of the green

Some pictures from today's protest of the Marshall Field's name change. I wonder what the protestors thought of this guy's (NSFW) sign, which is only funny if you know who Fred Phelps is.

Threadless Television

You know your business has made it when you're on CNN. Local t-shirt design competition gurus Jake and Jacob of Skinny Corp and Threadless fame were on Anderson Cooper 360 this week. I bet it was Zach Braff who tipped Cooper about it. [via Coudal]

Name that Lemon and Lime

Local purveyor of cute pickle-and-meat-themed cuddlers Mr. Pickles is sponsoring a contest to name two of its characters: the Scurvy Friends. Declaring September as Scurvy Prevention Month, they've got their new calendar ready for download, along with the details for the contest on their website. (Also look for their table at next week's Renegade Craft Fair in Wicker Park.)

Field's Fans Unite One Last Time

Fans of Marshall Field's have one last chance to demonstrate their anger with the department stores' conversion to Macy's. At 9:30am on September 9, the day of the official switch-over, FieldsFansChicago is holding a protest in front of the State Street store.

Macy's on State Avenue

It's not quite that egregious, but reader Mike noticed today that the new Macy's information maps installed inside the erstwhile Marshall Field's show Wabash Street, Washington Avenue and Randolph Avenue. That'll make a Chicagoan used to Wabash Avenue and Washington and Randolph Streets twitch. Not exactly getting off on the right foot, Macy's.

State Street Not So Great

First Field's, now this: Carson Pirie Scott will be closing its historic State Street store after the holiday season due to poor sales and operating losses.

Discounted Back To School Shopping

If you want some furniture but would prefer it free from umlauts (ie, IKEA), then you might want to try the Marshall Field's Furniture Outlet at Diversey and Pulaski. They're only open on the weekend, but you have a couple of huge floors to look through their nice stuff that might have a knick or a scratch. And unlike most furniture shopping, you can get it on short notice, not the typical 6-8 weeks most new furniture requires.

Greener Home Improvements

If you're concerned about the super nasty chemicals that are typically used for home renovations, you should stop by Chicago's Greenmaker on Pulaski near Fullerton. They offer products for people who are chemically sensitive as well as those wishing to use environmentally-friendly products, such as natural wool carpets, sustainably-harvested wood floors, eco-friendly household cleaners and much more. (We purchased a corn-based paint stripper and loved it.)

The Craft Racket

If you're the owner of a small business, crafty or not, who has been looking to meet other small business owners to share advice, information, and commiseration, but you don't like stuffy and boring networking events, the mafia is on your side. The Chicago Craft Mafia that is. The Craft Racket premiers Wednesday August 30th at Uncommon Ground with the hopes of uniting all those crafty business owners in-the-know with all those folks who need-to-know. It's a free event and more info is in Slowdown.

Be Charitable: Shop Bloomies Aug 30

Love to shop? Feeling generous? The Lupus Foundation of America, Illinois Chapter (LFAI) and Bloomingdale's are teaming up to raise some cash. Purchase $10 tickets to The Shopping Benefit, and LFAI gets every penny; turn your ticket in at one of Bloomingdale's four Chicagoland locations on August 30 and the store will donate an additional $5 to the cause.

Green, Red and Orange Hen

Using "White Hen" as a convenience store reference won't be a Chicagoism much longer. So speculates the Tribune, anyway. After all that effort to rebrand by removing "Pantry" from their signage, franchisees look to replace the chain's name altogether with that of its new owner, 7-Eleven.

Already fed up with Macy's?

Apparently Marshall Field's loyalists are disgruntled over the current transition from Fields to Macy's already taking place at the flagship store at 111 State Street. An article in today's Sun-Times discusses the skeptical response to Macy's merchandise, now rolling into the store. Commentary, in which Macy's clothing is criticized as "tacky" and "geared towards a younger crowd," is finding a voice in a blog, created by fans of the 138-year-old establishment. In an effort to retain the Marshall Field's customer base, Macy's is constructing a Frango kitchen (where you can view Frango chocolates being hand-dipped) on the 7th floor next to the Frango cafe, and they are also building a private entranceway for the exclusive women's couture 28 shop. The official switchover, in which the Marshall Field's name will bite the dust forever, is to be completed on September 9.

All I Want for Xmas is GPS

This year, the Magnificent Mile seems to be getting made over into a High-Tech Alley. Following the lead of Nokia and Motorola, navigational gear group Garmin has announced plans for a Michigan Avenue flagship, its first foray into retail. Conveniently, or perhaps temptingly, the store should be open in time for holiday shopping.

A Different Kind of Heat

Zillow offers an interesting graphic representation of cost per square foot for Chicagoland real estate: a "heat map."

Val's is moving

Fans of Val's halla Records, the historic Oak Park record store that's been selling all kinds of music for over 30 years, will no doubt be aware that the store has been under threat of closing for the last year. Well, here's some good news: Val's will re-open in a different Oak Park location, and they're moving this weekend. To celebrate the move (and to lighten the load for the movers) Val's is having a huge record sale this weekend: details are in Slowdown. Stop by, pick up some cheap LPs or CDs, and wish Val good luck in the new location.

The Tech Scene is Warming Up

If you didn't already know Chicago's gaining a reputation for Web2.0 innovation, this week's news should make it clear: 37signals announced yesterday that Jeff Bezos (of Amazon.com fame) has made a personal investment in the company. And on Monday Feedburner (who produces our feeds) announced it had bought blog stats company Blogbeat. (Anyone interested in throwing a little dough our way?)

Evil Car Salesman on the Lam!

So, this guy Mark goes to Naperville Toyota to buy a Prius. The salesguy is totally sleazy and sets up a fraudulent financing deal. The deal goes down and Mark drives away, but has second thoughts and tries to return the car. Instead he gets an earful from the dealership and harrassing phone calls -- for four months. There's now a warrant out for the salesman's arrest; read the whole sordid tale (and an update here) at The Consumerist. (Thanks, Brenda!)

MDW = SWA

Been to Midway lately? Seem like Southwest has every gate in the airport? Well, they nearly do.

Macy's Tries for the Local Angle

New City details a recent presentation by more than 60 local designers to Macy's buyers. The lucky ones will be featured in the new store's Chicago Designer Shop, which opens September 8.

Esquire In The Balance

Ever wonder how the Esquire Theater manages to hold its own against its Oak Street neighbors (like Prada)? Well, it looks like it might not be.

Fear Factor: Target

Target officials have apparently told south side aldermen that they might cancel plans for three new stores if the city's proposed big-box minimum wage ordinance is passed. Ald. Joe Moore, lead sponsor of the ordinance, called Target's move "bullying tactics." The city council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance on July 26th.

Just Don't Stick 'Em in Your Bike Spokes

For all of you folk fanatics and alt country fans, new at Quimby's this week is Pioneers of Country Music, a set of 40 trading cards illustrated by R. Crumb. Brief bios on the back of each card give the histories of Gid Tanner and his Skillet Lickers, Uncle Dan Macon and His Fruit-Jar Drinkers, Al Hopkins and his Buckle Busters and other whimsically named bands. Two earlier series, Early Jazz Greats and Heroes of the Blues, also feature art by R. Crumb.

Next Hipster fad = Quilting!

Now I've seen some cool freaking quilts, and I've seen some awful, awful quilts as well. But I figured it would be a silent day on Halsted before I'd ever see a quilt shop open there. Quiltology, 2625 N. Halsted (between Fullerton and Diversey) is now open. They claim to combine technology and quilting, offer classes for all skill levels, and have great fabrics that are otherwise hard to get. Good-bye knitting on the train? Hello, lap-piecing? Thanks, Carolyn.

American Manufacturing Update

Small article about American manufacturing in The Economist that features DesPlaines-based Littlefuse. Short summary: when it comes to making stuff, America isn't suffering as much as is often portrayed. (And while you're there, The Economist's City Guide for Chicago has some handy tidbits about things to do.)

Sundance May Set on the Near West Side

Crain's reports that Robert Redford is considering the site of a closed Fannie May candy factory for an outpost of his new Sundance Cinemas movie theater chain.

Time's almost up to be a renegade crafter

July 1 marks the application deadline for the Renegade Craft Fair. Organizers Sue and Kathleen got back recently from their second show in Brooklyn and now they're ready to devote their time to making the Chicago show awesome. They may have gotten the local craft scene kicked in the pants, but they're not the only ones in the game. The DIY Trunk Show is accepting applications through July 15th. The Rockwell Art Crossing is taking applications through June 30th. The Artzilla Craftzuki show at Schuba's on June 3rd was enough of a success that there will be another every month beginning on August 27th. And to give proper credit to the woman who started monthly craft shows, The Handmade Market at The Empty Bottle has been gaining in popularity since last year.

Phoning It In On the Mag Mile

Business Week takes a look at the new Nokia flagship store on Michigan Avenue over the weekend. Probably the coolest thing about it is you can buy any phone totally unlocked, so it can be used with whichever cellular carrier you want. The downside is there's no carrier subsidy, so you're going to pay full price for that 8801. (Incidentally, those interested in Motorola's new Q have but a short walk to check it out.)

Hubwear: ORD > ?

Friend of GB, George Aye has just unleashed his latest idea which I find frickin' cool. It's called Hubwear. Hubwear are t-shirts with airport codes printed on them: the front is first part of the trip while the back is your return leg of the journey.

Crafters, start your engines: DIY Trunk Show accepting applications

The much-loved DIY Trunk Show is officially accepting applications from local crafters who want to sell their wares at the event in November (Saturday, November 18; mark your calendar!). See the Trunk Show site for full information, and check out photos of previous Trunk Shows on Flickr.

PBR CHI ASAP

Pabst Blue Ribbon beer (which won five medals at the 1893 Columbian Exposition, wouldn't you know it) is pulling up stakes in San Antonio and moving to suburban Woodridge. Apparently, Illinois is Pabst's largest market (I'd be willing to bet that the intersection of Damen and Division is the eye of that particular storm).

Tourism and a T-Rex

We told you back in February about the chance to get some free copies of those retro Illinois tourism posters, and I hope you listened, cause now you'll have to pay. The folks at EnjoyIllinois.com have opened up a Cafepress store where you can buy images of Jane the T-Rex, the Collinsville catsup bottle, and Metropolis' Superman on mugs, shirts, totes, and (yup) posters. No word on why the car kabob isn't among the ranks, but we've got our fingers crossed. [Thanks, Katherine]

I've Got an Inkling

Locally based Inkling Markets allows you to set up a mock stock market for anything you can think of, from which summer blockbusters will gross the most to whether Guns'n'Roses will release an album this year.

Bigger Bucks at the Big Boxes

A few weeks ago, the Tribune reported on opposition to proposed ordinances requiring "big box" retailers to pay workers a higher minimum wage ($10/hr, with an additional $3/hr for benefits). Now, according to today's Times, over three-fifths of the City Council has signed on to the idea. If passed -- a vote could come within the month -- Chicago would be the first US municipality to take such a step.

Attack of the Marauding Palazzo Pantsed Queen

Drunken Bee on the perils of shopping Division Street. (How many thieving transvestites on the prowl for Fred Perry are you going to encounter on Michigan Avenue?)

Goose Island Update

We told you awhile back that Goose Island was in negotiations with Anheuser Busch; Crain's has an update on the story. Looks like Busch could own 35 percent of Goose Island and would take over distribution.

Date set for Field's renaming

The Sun-Times reports that September 7 will be the start of a "launch weekend" set to celebrate the renaming of Marshall Field's stores to Macy's. The weekend-long celebration will include loads of activities and events at the State Street store, such as a fashion competition for local designers and "mother-daughter beauty events".

Lucky Local Candles

The newest Chicago edition of Lucky Magazine (the one with Tyra on the cover) has a few pages of Chicago stores and designers that they like, but interestingly enough, local card and stationary designers Snow & Graham's new candles series made it into Lucky's broader national picks. Blogger k-fresh also recently picked up on the new line of lovely candles that the local company is putting out. You can find them (eventually) on the duo's website, or in person at stores like Greer Chicago. While you're waiting for a new S&G website to arrive, you can read an interview with them on urbanStyle from 2001.

Mulch into Moolah

From the Times: "By wrapping its arms and famous big shoulders around its Latin motto -- Urbs in Horto (City in a Garden) -- Chicago has become a global model for how a metropolis can pursue environmental goals to achieve economic success."

Ben Gordon, Mixologist

Bulls guard Ben Gordon is the first NBA player with his own energy drink. Gordon signed with start-up H3Enterprises to create BG7, a white tea-based concoction expected to be on store shelves later this year.

No Precog, But Still Pretty Cool

Been to O'Hare lately? It might be worth the trip just to play with this new 10'x7' interactive display, inspired by Minority Report and developed by Accenture. [via]

Show Them Your Idea

This Thursday, I Have An Idea is hosting its fourth annual Portfolio Night, an opportunity for those who hope to get into the advertising industry to show off their work to top creative folk in the field. Could be your chance of a lifetime, but you gotta pay to play: tickets are $35.

SwapSimple

Wish you could trade that heavy BioChem book you never read for something truly valuable like the collected works of Freud or maybe the Pirates of the Caribbean dvd? Thanks to SwapSimple, you can. Started by a couple of local college grads as an attempt to stick it to the publishing man, it's been going and growing online for about a year. The coolest thing is that the recipient of your BioChem book pays for that shipping and you pay for dvd shipping. Rumor has it they're servers at a local restaraunt so the $2 per order charge obviously isn't making them rich, but I bet they'd accept tips.

An Alternative to Metromix

Somehow we've managed not to write about it, but Yelp. Founded in 2004 in San Francisco, Yelp has been helping Chicagoans find good places to eat and drink for quite a while now. It now covers dentists, hairstylists and other professions, too — all reviewed and rated by regular people.

There's Even a Pink One

Since neither Andrew nor Naz has mentioned it, I'll do it for them: they've ventured into buttons. Or botons, as it were. Check out their limited edition tribute to the 'L', and look for more sets in future.

Design Just Out of Reach

Design Within Reach is holding its first Chicago-area warehouse sale tomorrow through Monday, with items up to 75 percent off. The only catch is, the warehouse is in Downers Grove.

Floor Covering Most Foul

Sewer cover throw rugs fashioned after the designs seen in several major cities, including Chicago. [via]

Spring Has Sprung. Now, What To Wear?

Let's all cross fingers that we can ditch the anoraks, coats, jackets, blazers, sweaters and various other forms of outerwear for at least a few months. It's 78 degrees, and that's cause for celebration. Still, the anonymous female blogger behind Make Love, Not Debt is struggling to find a black shirt that'll meet her Chicago springtime needs (and there are several of them). Ladies, if you've got recommendations, be nice and pass 'em on.

Wearin' the B.L.O.G.

If you've got a blog, be proud and wear it (literally) on your sleeve. Local t-shirt biz Threadless has a snappy new shirt for sale that spells out the word for all to see. They've also recently upped the prize money for their latest contest "Red Cross Loves Threadless" to $2,000. That's quite a lot in diet cokes (oh, and, down the road, money for the Red Cross). Details ahoy.

Wal-Mart Makes Nice

In an effort to placate those concerned about Wal-Mart stores being introduced in their neighborhood, the company has declared it feels its opponents' pain. Ours is an area the Wal has struggled to enter; no coincidence, then, that its CEO chose Chicago to announce the "Wal-Mart Jobs and Opportunity Zones" Initiative, the first zone of which will be on the city's West Side. Lest you think the company's gone soft with altruism, the Times reports that a confidential internal memo blames community criticism for crippling expansion, and Wal-Mart is all about expansion. (Prior coverage in the GB archives.)

Charities (heart) Threadless

After local t-shirt purveyors Threadless raised over $100,000 to help the Red Cross aid Katrina victims, they made a few friends over there. The Red Cross has now tapped Threadless to sponsor a design competition in honor of their 125th birthday. Design your tee around the themes of Hope, Humanity & Compassion (along with some other very special guidelines) and submit it by April 21. When the winning tees are chosen and sold, Threadless will donate $5 per shirt to the Red Cross.

WLUW Record Fair Seeks a Few More Vendors

Did your boyfriend pull a High Fidelity-style break-up and you've got all his records? Sell them at the WLUW Record Fair taking place April 8th and 9th at Pulaski Park Fieldhouse. Or maybe you're a fantastic zine maker, small publisher, poster maker, t-shirt printer, crafter, or general diy maven with something to sell. If so, call Shawn Campbell at WLUW (773-508-8072) ASAP. There are still a few slots open.

A 'Hood Losing a 'Hoodie

After less than six months, Brooklyn-based personalized t-shirt slingers Neighborhoodies has closed its Wicker Park store (its first in Chicago). The cryptic word from the biz is that they've put a "pause on the store" because the "store personnel wasn't being very independent[ly] minded" (whatever that means). But, they're not through with us yet! Keep an eye peeled in the future for "chicago part II".

Finger Foods

Already in place at Cub stores, Jewel's recently introduced Pay By Touch option takes self-checkout to a whole new level.

[Where'd I put my] Glass Slipper

Oh c'mon, I know you have some formal gowns hanging in the back of your closet that you would *love* to give to The Glass Slipper Project this year. They are collecting donations of dresses, shoes, jewelry and other prom-garb until March 24. Check out this list for donation locations (and also, check out Slowdown).

Prophecy Fulfilled: Staples Taking Over

We told you it might happen in our Top 10 headlines we'd like to see in 2006, and now it's starting to come true. Staples Inc. is adding to its already quite visible Chicago presence, while Itasca-based OfficeMax is having some hard times at keeping its stores open. What will come true next: more funding for public schools? One can only hope.

GB To-Do List:

1. Pay hosting bill
2. Check papers and sites for things to post
3. Buy Getting Real

Knit for less.

Knitting is fun, but yarn can be expensive. It's going to be slightly less expensive this weekend at the Knitting Workshop, 2218 N. Lincoln. Their Winter sale is running through Sunday, which means all winter yarns are 40-50% off. Hey, it's not going to get warm for another 3 months, so you may as well stock up and get to it.

Fireside Chat

The latest product of FoGB 37Signals: Campfire, a group chat program for business ...and probably other groups, too.

Macy's Makes a Move

Macy's has hired Chicago advertising agency JWT to work on the company's national brand launch. As early as Fall, 350 new Macy's will open in stores acquired from May Co., raising the total number of Macy's in America to over 800. No telling if this love Macy's has thrown towards the city will make Chicagoans not feel like this.

The Mafia Shares Its Profits

Why wait till the last minute to pick out a gift for your Valentine? Get it done early at the Chicago Craft Mafia's 2nd annual St. Valentine's Day MassCraftsacre. Pick out a one-of-a-kind piece ("It's an original, honey. Just like you.") from 13 different Mafia members and "friends of the family," get some handmade chocolates, and help 826CHI raise some much needed cash — 20% of the proceeds from all sales as well as funds raised in a raffle will be used to finish building "The Boring Store."

Put a Stamp on It

V-day is fast approaching, and unless you want to hit the rack at the 7-11 night of, here are just a few local artists and their original Valentines all set for the mailing. Funny? Try Mr. Pickles. Witty? Check Girl Metro. Elegant? Snow & Graham has beautiful blank notes. Shop in person for these and others at local stationers like Greer Chicago, Paper Boy and Fly Paper.

Marshall Field's to Rise Again

Kinda sorta maybe.

Call it the eBay Effect

Next time you go to Marshall Field's, you might consider putting the shopping bag in a bag of its own: collectibles experts are predicting that Field's branded items will have some serious value in 20 years. (Anyone else find it ironic that the State Street store's webpage has a flash intro that says, "The first 150 years were just a warm up ...for this"?)

Shop-a-holics night out

If you've ever wished to get a sneak-peek at what the finest local and national up-and-coming indie designers are making while getting a goodie bag and drinking cocktails at Union Station, then you're in luck. Girls Night Out is coming to Chicago on April 6th. Unique! Tres chic!

GWBOT

The President is visiting the Board of Trade today, so you might want to steer clear of LaSalle and Jackson.

Daily Candy Countdown

For the next week, Daily Candy is marking year's end by revisiting some of its 2005 favorites. As no wrap-up of the year that was would be complete without some mention of Angelina Jolie, today's installment is dedicated to achieving those signature lips. Perfect, perhaps, for that New Year's Eve kiss. (As for Brad, well, you're on your own.)

The End of the Field's as We Know It

On the last shopping day before Christmas, the Times looks at the last stand of the nation's regional department stores that'll acquire the Macy's name in the coming year. While disappointment around the country seems largely overshadowed by ambivalence, there's apparently "one notable exception": Marshall Field's.

"It's a Major Award"

Know someone who deserves special recognition this holiday season? Send'em a leg lamp — you know, like the one the old man won in A Christmas Story. It's the perfect centerpiece for any large window. And it's made in Naperville.

Anheuser Island? Goose-Busch?

There's a rumor brewing that Anheuser-Busch is considering taking an ownership stake in Goose Island Brewery. The Trib has the story, with Goose Island president John Hall confirming that the companies are "in talks" but claiming they're about distribution, not acquisition.

Back to Christmas, Please

In this week before the big X that is X-mas, crowded stores and unimpressive sales abound. Thank goodness for espace at 1205 N. Milwaukee. Today, and for the next six days, espace is holding a 30% off "insane denim sale" which includes brands like Antik, Taverniti SO, Hudson and AereA. Of course, if you're looking for other ideas, we've put together a holiday gift guide (as has Chicagoist).

Care for a share of O'Hare?

Crain's is reporting that the city will issue $1.5 billion in bonds tomorrow to fund the first stage of its O'Hare expansion project. Buyer beware, however.

Letter From United Airlines

Dear Denver. Thank you for comping us on the $185 million for the failed automated baggage system at Denver International Airport. Next time you're in town, drinks are on us! My favorite quote comes from Denver city Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz who was the only one to vote against forgiving the debt: "I have tried to get my heart and mind around forgiving $185 million in debt, and I just can't get there." I hear ya Jeanne. You'd have to have a massive heart.

Made in Chicago, Bought in Chicago

West North can always be counted on for interesting info about urban planning and affairs. I'd seen signage with the logo, but it's there I got the scoop on the Local First Chicago cause. As you do your holiday shopping, chains may have their place, but think about patronizing locally owned businesses like these founding members, well, first.

Fancy Smokes

On Wednesday, R. J. Reynolds opened the Marshall McGearty Tobacco Lounge in Chicago. The private smoke shop features tobacconists, luxurious couches, custom cigarettes ($8/pack) and an intense air-ventilation system. The store opening showcased R.J.'s new "super-premium" Marshall McGearty Tobacco Artisans brand which is only available for purchase at the new Chicago store.

Kindness of Strangers

It's that time of year when schmaltzy, obvious "helping out your fellow (wo)man" stories tend to inspire either bitter or sentimental responses. But here's a story that tugs at my heart-strings and my wallet strings as well. Natalia Wilson, wonderful proprietress of Evil Eye Emporium is helping out her friend with massive medical bills by selling ornaments to help her raise money. She's donating 100% of her proceeds on this item to her friend. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving. I'm making my list and checking it twice, how 'bout you?

Depends on What Your Definition of Iz Is

A full what, two weeks after the Reader did a cover story on them (PDF here), the Tribune is playing catch-up with a profile of Big Monster Toys, creator of one this season's hot toys: the Iz.

Fancy Shoes and Booze

Through the holiday season, hip shoe store eSpace (1205 N. Milwaukee Ave., at Division St. 773-252-6994) has declared Sundays "mimosa days!" As if it couldn't get any better, eSpace will also offer you an automatic 15% off on anything you buy for yourself (if you're shopping for someone else).

Shop Online Locally

Since today is supposedly "Cyber Monday," it's probably the best day to point out that Threadless is currently running a holiday sale. Literally every t-shirt in stock is currently $10.

Black Friday Forecasts

Amidst brisk State Street winds, Marshall Field's opened its doors at 6am this morning with warm, welcoming arms of Frango Mint Chocolates, Thomas Pink oxfords and Christian Louboutin pumps. The Sun-Times reported today that during this holiday season the average American will spend $780 on gifts, while the average Chicagoan just $686. What's cuter than a thrifty city? A city with heart. We budget a nationwide high $311 on charitable contributions.

Chicago-wide Buy Local Day

If you've ever worked retail, you probably called the Friday after Thanksgiving "Black Friday", or maybe you have heard it called "Buy Nothing Day". Well I'd love to see the friday after Thanksgiving be called "Buy Local Day". I could rant about why it's better to give your money to a local business, artist, crafter, bread-maker but instead I'll just encourage you to go to MINT on Friday and give some of your hard-earned cash to Tammy Terwelp. She only buys items from local artists, crafters, designers and she has a keen eye for finding the best stuff. You'll get to shop (there's free coffee and treats), you'll save up to 40% off select items, and you'll know that you're keeping Chicago in business without supporting any evil empires.

Children are the Future

Citizens of Chicago that is. And not everyone wants to see their friends with children fade off into suburbia. But if your friends with tykes are discussing the merits of larger yards and being closer to a mall, maybe you should buy their kid this shirt.

Mad for McCartney (And We Don't Mean Paul)

Right. So, like Lagerfeld before her, Stella McCartney recently designed some stuff for H&M. The Guardian called the clothes "the most eagerly anticipated collection of the year," and the Times described her fandom as a "cult." Think any of that is exaggeration? Read the Drunken Bee account of the line's local launch (and subsequent sell-out) today, and, well, you're apt to think again.

No such thing as a free withdrawal

If you're a non-Washington Mutual customer who's been inclined to seek out WaMu ATMs because they don't charge you a fee, be warned that the honeymoon is over. Crain's reports that WaMu will begin charging non-customers $2 a pop just like every other bank, starting November 17.

American Girl Power

We're not generally fans of American Girl Place, but there's one good reason to applaud the creepy doll manufacturer: they're standing up to nutty right-to-lifers. The Pro-Life Action League of Chicago and other groups have organized a boycott of American Girl because of a fundraising bracelet that benefits Girls Inc. (formerly Girls Clubs of America), which supports abortion rights and homosexuality. PLALC is supposedly planning a protest at the Chicago Avenue store around Thanksgiving; expect a nice counter-protest to further gum up traffic.

Sample This Weekend

Chicago shopping can be as magnificent (and pricey) as the mile, until the weekends, that is. To the fashion (and budget) savvy Saturday and Sunday are sample sale days. This Sunday, check out another big bad Beta Boutique Sample Sale at Equinox Fitness Club, Chicago's newest upscale gym with in-house full service spa. Equinox will offer a special 3-day, all-access pass to Beta Boutique shoppers. Beta will have on hand its usual array of designer apparel, including Three Dot, Ambre Babzoe and Beaumenay Joannet and Margaret O'Leary.

Return of the Crafters

Get a jump-start on holiday shopping this weekend by hitting the DIY Trunk Show. Running from 10am to 4pm Saturday at the Pulaski Park Auditorium, 1419 W. Blackhawk, the show features more than 80 local crafters and artisans offering their wares. We'll be there with a booth, so stop by and say hi!

Cub Foods Goes Biometric

I'm excited to see innovation come to grocery stores, from the self-checkout to this latest trick from Cub Foods. Yes, if you do shop at that behemoth of a store, you'll soon be able to pay with just the touch of a finger.

Is Carson's Next?

Saks Inc. announced today that it has sold Carson Pirie Scott (and a bunch of other department stores) to Bon-Ton Stores. No word yet on whether the Carson's name will go away, but one would hope the Macy's/Marshall Field's brouhaha would discourage a name change.

Lip Balm #1 Addicts Rejoice

Yesterday, luxury skin and hair care product pusher Kiehl's opened the doors to their first Chicago location at 907 W Armitage. Kiehl's is commonly referred to as a cult pharmacy; Forbes used the term "cult devotion" in a story including the company's products on a list of "50 of America's Best." If your tiny bank account threatens to keep you from indulging in Kiehl's lush lotions, take note: Kiehl's sampling program gives away over 12 million trial-size packets and tubes a year.

Cleaning Up at Water Tower Place

If you thought the Crabtree & Evelyn, Sephora, Bath & Body Works, and Body Shop at Water Tower Place were inadequate for your cleaning and pampering needs, there are a couple of recent additions to the downtown behemoth that might sate you.

Lush, whose organic and natural products proved so popular that Americans used to have them shipped in from England, opened a kiosk in Marshall Fields cosmetics department recently. An institution in New York, an outpost of C.O. Bigelows Apothecaries is opening at WTP today; you can even pick up some product samples if you show up by 4pm. Water Tower Place is located at 835 N. Michigan.

A Short Portrait Of A Gem

Short portrait of the beloved North Side apothecary, Merz, in the New York Times today. The article explains some background on how their website, smallflower.com, got its name.

Wicker Park is moving to Bridgeport

In conjunction with the ongoing Select Media Festival, three Wicker Park/North Side countercultural institutions; Quimby's, Myopic Books, and Odd Obsession Video will be opening shop in Bridgeport. The temporary retail relocation is part of the "Experimental Culture Zone" that Lumpen is creating along the burgeoning Morgan St. corridor in the "Community of the Future". Don't go proclaiming "the end" of Wicker Park yet, you aging hipsters-- the three satellite stores are open only on the weekends through November 13th, and then it's back North they go.

Jordan Brands Ladies

Yesterday's Oprah was definitely one to exercise the TiVo slo-mo feature. Chicago's first lady welcomed Michael Jordan and special handsome guest Charles Barkley to the show. Air Jordan joked with Chuck and Oprah, all in the service of introducing Brand Jordan's new line of ladies clothing. Oprah waxed philosophical about wearing her Jordan duds shopping on Oak Street. Jordan's line pays J-Lo style homage to his Bulls with these signature color velour sweatsuits.

A Neighborhoodie of Our Own

While we can't claim the Neighborhoodie as our own Chi-town child, we will soon be able to shop and create our own, live and in person at the company's forthcoming Wicker Park store. The first Chicago location, the shop will let you pick out your favorite tees, bags, and, yes, hoodies of all shapes and sizes, then personalize them with different fonts of letters and symbols. You can pledge your love for your 'hood, your hobbies, or maybe your favorite website. You might even be able to get hired. The store officially opens at 1300 N. Milwaukee Ave. on November 1, but look for a party on the October 29th.

Gold Coast Bags Furla

Taking bag cues from Miss Jessica Simpson just got easier for Chicagoans. Luxe Italian bag and accessory line Furla is now open for business at 106 E. Oak St. The Gold Coast locale is Furla's first Midwestern store. Furla's offerings include a handknit wool miniwrap in delicious fall colors (coffee, pumpkin, onyx, pomegranate or ivory) -- an exclusive to Chicago's Furla.

Conscious Consumption

Sure, H&M can be great, but if you feel that little twinge of guilt when you drop some bucks at a chain store, yet can't handle the chaos of a craft fair, DEPART-ment might be for you. Set up like a real store, with clerks, check-out stations and organized racks, DEPART-ment offers hand-made goods by independent artists and designers. Open this Friday through Sunday at Open End Gallery, 2000 W. Fulton. You know you can learn more over at Slowdown.

Chicago Polish

OPI Products announced a new color collection for nails and lips for the Fall/Winter 2005 season:The Chicago Collection. Get your own bottle or stick of "O'Hare & Nails Look Great," "Marooned on the Magnificent Mile," or "Lincoln Park After Dark." Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, OPI's Executive Vice President & Artistic Director predicts, "You're in the mood for Chicago!"

More on the death of Marshall Field's

"Someone like Marshall Field or John Wanamaker - or even a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs - all became fabulously rich as a side effect of devoting their lives to creating something really new and unique. The approach of a number-cruncher like Lundgren is much more parasitical. It's less about creating something great than squeezing out value from an existing asset without ever really doing anything to replenish it." If you missed this essay by architecture critic Lynn Becker, read it now. It is simply the best essay I've read on the Marshall Field's debacle and the death of department stores.

[Im]Perfect Articles

Add another stellar t-shirt maker out of Chicago: [Im]perfect Articles are brought to you by a variety of chosen artists, featuring one of my faves, Cody Hudson. And wihout a doubt, his t-shirt (as modelled by friend George Aye) is my favourite as well. You might also enjoy George's little story about wearing Hudson's t-shirt.

IKEA2

There are now officially two places to get your semi-disposable Swedish furniture: IKEA's Bolingbrook store opened today.

A Reason to Visit the Mart

The 4.2 million-square- foot Merchandise Mart remains the worlds largest commercial building, though it was built in 1930. It primarily houses wholesale showrooms, which is whyunless youre an interior decoratoryou probably havent had much occasion to go there. The Merchandise Mart Design Center Sample Sale, this Saturday, offers an excuse to stop by and explore. Details in Slowdown.

A Winter Coat Drive with Style

If you've accumulated nothing from past Chicago winters but a closet packed with winter coats, this promotion is for you. Bucktown boutique p45 is asking for donations of outerwear for Deborah's Place, a shelter for women who are or were homeless. Until the end of the month, in exchange for a gently used coat, p45 is extending a 15% discount on selected jackets from their Winter 2005 collection. p45 will provide in-kind donation forms on request.

Hell no! we won't go...and have our name changed to Macys!

Ok, so that doesn't roll off the tongue like everyone's favorite anti-war slogan but if you are so inclined, you can sign this petition to keep Marshall Field's, Marshall Field's.

Farewell, Field's

News flash from the Tribune: all Marshall Field's stores to be renamed to Macy's in the fall of 2006. Start collecting your Field's memorabilia now. (Want to complain? Our friends at Chicagoist have thoughtfully provided the mailing address for the CEO of Federated Department Stores, the conglomerate that currently owns Field's.)

Tupper-Chic-Wear

Growing up, my mom had a sign over the microwave that said "No TUPPERWARE!!!" She'd lost quite a bit of her collection due to us nuking spaghetti or chili for longer than necessary. In an attempt to turn Tupperware into Tupperwear, local fashionista Cynthia Rowley worked with the makers of fine plastic-ware to create headbands and shoes, turning them into plastic-wear. While I doubt I'll plunk down the $300 her shoes will cost, I think Mom might get something from Tupperware's cool new line since my brothers and I ignored that sign.

Get Un-Naked

It's time to start shopping for fall and winter clothes, and NewCity has a nice overview of boutique clothing stores around the city for those of us who don't like malls.

Raising Funds the Threadless Way

Here's a chance to wear the change you want to see in the world: skinnyCorp's Threadless t-shirt outfit has introduced a new style, the Regrowth tee. The shirt sets you back a mere $10; that gets generously doubled, and 20 bucks goes to the relief effort, up to 50 grand. Nice.
Update: People are snapping those suckers up. Threadless reports raising $25k in 24 hours and says stocks are low but they're working on it. In other words, patience, grasshopper.

Motorola's iTunes Phone Finally Arrives

The blogosphere loves Apple, but with our Chicago focus, we don't often get to participate. So we've been chomping at the bit to announce, after months of hinting and teasing, Motorola's new ROKR iTunes-enabled phone, available through Cingular. Only holds about as much as an iPod shuffle, but it's still one less gadget in your pocket.

Jean Therapy

Jennifer Aniston was totally sporting trouser jeans while in Chicago filming The Break-Up, but are we all to abandon our ultra-low-rise jeans? Enter LA-based company Not Your Daughters Jeans. The companys Tummy Tuck Jeans feature a patented criss cross fabric which flattens tummies, contours hips and lifts buttocks, and most importantly allows women to go down one jean size. If youre a Gold Coast shopper get yours at Only She. Other Chicagoans might visit any city Nordstroms. A few Lifestyles staffers over at the Sun-Times tried out the brand, but will you (or your momma)?

Bid on a Trip to J.Lo-Land

You know Jennifer Lopez is opening a boutique in the State Street Marshall Fields, right? Well, the grand opening is being treated like a red carpet event. Bidding opened today on two VIP tickets to the Sept. 22 opening, along with several samples from the JLO clothing line, at Auctions.Overstock.com. She of the glorious behind will be present, and you'll get a night in a four-star hotel and $1,000 spending money. The auction proceeds benefit Children's Hospital ...of Los Angeles.

Sell your house but keep the condo.

There has been talk of the housing bubble and Chicago is not impervious to this phenomenon. According to Crain's, new home sales are down but condo sales slighly rose. Ouch.

Sweatshop-free, Union-free, Class-free

Like a lot of hipster-leaning internerds, we at GB used to love American Apparel: nice clothes, indie aesthetic, and "sweatshop-free" practices. Since they started opening boutiques in the city last year, though, I've grown incredibly weary of their ubiquitous, porn-styled advertising. I'd like to be able to read my Time Out or my Reader on the bus without exposing "Miguel"'s crotch to Granny across the aisle. The skeevy ads may not be the only reason to dislike AA. There's been much press coverage in the past month of the sexual harassment suit filed by three female employees against the company's gleefully libidinous CEO. In last week's In These Times, meanwhile, Ari Paul recounts the chilly reception he got in an interview for the chain's Wicker Park store last year after he mentioned his former affiliation with United Students Against Sweatshops. It seems "sweatshop-free" doesn't mean "union-friendly."

Saving up for a new Ben Sherman?

Belmont Army Surplus, that huge three-story store next to the Belmont El stop where you can buy your Doc Martens, your Caterpillar tractor boots, your Army surplus jackets, your Dickies messenger bags, and everything else you need to wear to be a modern disaffected teenager or urban hipster, is being kicked out of its space by the CTA because it's right up against the Brown Line tracks, and they're doing that train tracks expansion thingy, so... there you go. They're having a "Screwed By The CTA" sale right now, and there's plenty of stuff on sale from 20 to 50 percent, so get over to 945 West Bemont ASAP and pick yourself up some spare pairs of shoes, pants, jackets, skateboards, Manic Panic, etc.

Budget Living

Tired of mindlessly supplementing your vintage bric-a-brac from The Brown Elephant with items you covet at CB2 from arrival to clearance price? Want to remain the homemaker your friends refer to as frugal, stylish and creative? Enter Budget Living Magazine. The current issue features tips for scoring a hot fall handbag, as well as sassy chandeliers on the cheap side. And, pssst, complimentary one-year subscriptions are available. Take your sweetie out on a budget date and tell her.

RIP, Fields

Payton picks up a few tidbits and with a bit of analysis concludes that Marshall Field's days are limited. A Macy's in Chicago might not be the downfall we're anticipating, but one things for sure: someone right now is working hard to figure out how not to screw this up because all of Chicago will be watching. Note to Federated: I know it's stupid, but we want kick-butt Christmas windows. Don't let the bean-counters take that away.

AFL-CIO Less United, More Divided

As had been rumored, four major unions have boycotted the annual meeting of the AFL-CIO, the national labor federation, in town this week. The SEIU and the Teamsters have taken it a step further and quit the organization, with others expected to follow suit in the coming days. Read Ramsin Canon's thoughts on the matter in last week's Revenge of the Second City.

Beat the Heat by Buying Cool Crafts

If this heat makes you yearn for a free air-conditioned space, then head to Catalyst Ranch tonight to meet up with the Chicago Craft Mafia for their first annual Summer Shakedown. They, and 19 "friends of the family", are putting aside their glue guns, seam rippers, and scissors long enough to let you get a peek at what they've been making. We'll see you there between 8pm and 11pm. Right? Yeah! Dat's what I thought!

John M. Smyth Closing After 140 Years

Another sad, sad day for Chicago businesses. The 140-year-old John M. Smyth Homemakers furniture stores are closing their doors forever at the end of this month. The Sun-Times reports, "Homemakers, known for its warbling theme song in television ads, found itself bombarded by competitors ranging from discount stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and Costco, to specialty stores Crate & Barrel, Ikea, Rooms to Go, Walter E. Smithe and Ethan Allen."

Let the crafting begin!

If you haven't seen a crafty friend in a while, it's probably because they're participating in one of Chicago's popularly crafty entrepreneurial events. The DIY Trunk Show announced their vendor list for this year's show. The Renegade Craft Fair will be posting their list of vendors soon. And the Chicago Craft Mafia kicks off the craft season with their first annual Summer Shakedown. So, if you know a crafter, make sure to check up on them this week. With as hot as it's going to be, and since they're a reclusive bunch, we all have to band together to make sure they survive this Heat Wave . And keep an eye on your elderly neighbors as well. You know they watch (out for) you.

A Faster Pour

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about TurboTap, a local company helping to get your beer to you faster. If you've had a beer at Wrigley this year, there's a good chance a TurboTap was involved.

One Year, One Night Only

Rotofugi, our favorite toy store, just turned one year old, and to celebrate, they've got two events coming up in the next week. Tomorrow night is the opening for Crossover, an exhibit of designer toys customized by other designers and featuring an appearance by Sket One. And next Wednesday, grab a blank t-shirt and drop by for a one-night-only visit by LMAC. They'll screenprint your shirt while you wait.

Yet Another GoogleMaps App

Actually, this one takes advantage of Google Earth: Prudential Preferred Properties has created a plug-in for the 3D mapping program that allows you to see the location of homes for sale in Chicagoland with the company. (Still Windows only, alas.)

A Little Taxing

Starting tomorrow, expect to pay a bit more for, well, almost everything in Chicago. The city's new sales tax goes into effect July 1, up a quarter percent to 9% on most purchases. This puts Chicago higher than New York City which is a measly 8.375%. We'll have to wait and see if shoppers flee to the suburbs for their spending.

Tee for you

Hip hip hip t-shirt company American Apparel has opened its fourth of five planned Chicago stores this week, bringing Armitage into the L.A.-based clothing company's fold. Now you can get your fill of jerseyed goods in Wicker Park, Evanston, Gold Coast, and, come this fall, Lakeview. And hey, if you go to the new store by July 31, you can get 10% off with this here coupon (PDF).

Inspired shopping

Maybe you need a new rug, vase, picture frame or cool bar of soap? If so, get your shopping list down to CB2 (800 W. North Avenue) tonight from 6:30 to 8pm. For a suggested donation of $10 you'll get a cooking demo, an open bar, and hors d'oeuvres made by Eric Palmer of Mon Ami Gabi. Your donation at the door as well as 10% of sales will be donated to Inspiration Corporation, which helps folks transition out of homelessness.

UAL Buyout?

Crain's is reporting that a buyout of bankrupt United Airlines might be in the works, according to a recent court filing.

Let the craft season begin

Not only is the Renegade Craft Fair and the DIY Trunk Show taking applications, but so is the 2nd Annual Rockwell Crossing Art Walk. And to keep the crafty spirit going year round, Tammy Terwelp of Smashing Cars Creations has opened up Mint Boutique. Or at least she will next Wednesday at 1450 Webster Avenue. She's only selling high quality goods made from local artisans and crafters. And unlike most stores, she'll be open when you're probably not working. So when you need a gift at 8 p.m., check out her store.

Naked and Really Angry

The SkinnyCorp. empire just continues to grow. Naked and Angry is their latest clothing company built around submitted and voted-on designs; this one features ties to start, but they plan to branch out into other "products and garments created from winning fabric patterns ranging from ties to tops to pillows to belts to socks to sweaters." Submit your fabric design today.

Calling all crafters

The third annual DIY Trunk Show, happening this November at the Pulaski Park fieldhouse, is now taking applications from vendors. Interested parties should check out the information about the trunk show, particularly the Craftifesto, to see if this would be a suitable place to sell your hand-made items. If it looks good, then fill out the application, start making goods to sell, and we'll see you in about five months at the show.

In Studio at the Apple Store

Local Mac geeks recently received an email like this one announcing the opening of The Studio at the N. Michigan Avenue Apple Store. Described as the store's "creative hub" and a companion to the signature Genius Bar, the new facility offers one-on-one instruction via a series of courses on various Mac applications -- or the use of OS X itself.

Antiquing Time

This Sunday is the first Chicago Antique Market of the year. Held on the last Sunday of the month, it's the perfect way to spend an afternoon entertaining your parents this Memorial Day weekend.

United We Fall

In the wake of the latest development in beleagured United Airlines' bankruptcy restructuring, The New York Times wonders, briefly, if it would be such a bad thing just to let the airline fail. Its 61,000 employees might have something to say about that. In the Trib, meanwhile, Jon Hilkevitch worries about the fate of the United archives.

Give some love to a nonprofit and to Mom

Now I'm not saying that I think you forgot that Sunday is Mother's Day, and I'm certainly not suggesting that you're procrastinating about finding a gift, but I am saying that Urban Meadows lets you not only get your the mom-figure in your life something pretty and keeps you from getting a guilt phone call Sunday afternoon. But Urban Meadows helps people with mental illness learn job skills. And if you work in the loop, stop by 120 S. LaSalle and pick up some flowers to hand deliver to Mom.

Carson's on the Block

The fate of Marshall Fields is still up in the air, but in the meantime the other State Street department store is now up for sale. Saks has put Carson Pirie Scott & Co. -- along with several other store chains -- on the block. Hopefully we won't have to worry about a name change at 1 S. State.

You'd think we could buy a pennant

The Chicago-based sports marketing firm Team Marketing Research yesterday released their 2005 MLB Fan Cost Index, comparing the cost for a family of four to attend a game at each of baseball's thirty parks. Their methodology, which accounts for average ticket prices, food, parking, and merchandise, puts both of Chicago's teams in the top five most expensive. A trip to a Sox game will run $188.07 (fifth), while a day at Wrigley comes in second at $210.01. Both clubs raised their ticket prices by more than 12% this year. (Thanks, Damon.)

Chicago Tests a Craig's List Competitor

Everybody wants to tap into the success of Craig's List with online classifieds. This, of course, benefits us as competition creates innovation. The latest salvo is Oodle, which is testing a localized version of its service here in Chicago. Try it out at chicago.oodle.com.

Apple Bites

We're big fans of Apple here at GB, but there's a dark side to the lovable computer company: Crain's reports that local independent Mac retailers are getting killed by the four area Apple stores.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to [censored] we go

The Trib reports that Marshall Field's received some complaints about its Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs holiday windows this past Christmas. It seems some misguided customers saw a "hidden gay agenda" in the depiction of seven men living together. Gregory Clark, Field's VP of creative services, didn't detail how many complaints were received, though it was apparently just a handful. Good thing they didn't go with the SpongeBob windows.

IKEA Called Out by Norway

Seems that even the Prime Minister of Norway has some issues with those crazy IKEA furniture assembly instructions. Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik recently lambasted IKEA for not using pictures of women in its furniture literature. IKEA, which has quite a world presence, might be steering clear of using female models to show how to put together your Billy bookcase, to avoid offending its Muslim customers, but so far, they're not talking about it. You can decide for yourself out in Schaumburg.

Chicago "Buffett"

A brief in Crain's notes that investor Warren Buffett is planning on bringing more flights to Midway Airport. Buffett's fleet (none of which seat more than 18 per plane) will make some 30 round-trip flights over the week between Midway and New York City. No word yet on when the plan will take off.

Macy Field's

One of the quintessential Chicago landmarks is the State Street Marshall Field's department store. Yet the store (and the Marshall Field's store chain) hasn't been locally owned for a long time. It's recently been owned by the St.-Louis-based May Department Stores Company, and now May has been bought up by Cincinnati-based Federated Department Stores Inc., owner of the Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores. The business experts quoted in the above Tribune story seem equally divided between the possibility that Marshall Field's stores will be converted to Macy's stores, and the possibility that the Marshall Field's name will be kept due to its historic value. Marshall Field must be spinning in his grave.

Invasion of the Bank Branches

Notice a lot more banks in your neighborhood? There's a reason: 488 new bank branches opened in Chicago last year, more than anywhere else in the country. The Wall Street Journal has a story today on the backlash against bank branch proliferation, and, coincidentally, Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin bemoans the plague of bland bank design, with an accompanying slideshow.

Wal-Mart breaks ground in Chicago

After a long battle to get a foothold in Chicago, and amid protests from local businesses and community leaders, Wal-Mart officially broke ground yesterday for a store on the West Side. Look for the store to be open early next year.

Shopping Wright

The New York Times' "Samurai Shopper" visited Chicago recently for an auction of modern design at Wright, 1140 W. Fulton. Nice stuff, but what I want to know is who derides Chicago as "a pompous Milwaukee." Never heard that one before. (Thanks, Matthew.) UPDATE: Reader Matt W. writes that the "pompous Milwaukee" quote is from Leonard L. Levinson. Thanks!

Got an iPod but no time or are lazy?

Here's an interesting idea: For those with iPods and no time (or are too lazy) to rip your music collection from CDs, there's an answer for you. Local company RipItDigital will rip a CD for a buck and then load it onto your iPod or MP3 player for $10 (sale price, regularly $20). They'll even pick up and deliver or tutor you on how to use your newfangled thingmajig music player. Calling all chads and trixies!

Shred EVERYTHING: identity theft up in Chicago

Identity theft increased 15 percent in Chicago last year, primarily credit card fraud. It might be a good time to get a copy of your credit report (info on this at the Federal Trade Commission site) and check it for stuff you don't remember doing.

OMG, Buy a T-Shirt

The first t-shirts from OMG Clothing (part of the skinnyCorp empire) are now on sale. I'm digging the "My mom likes Maiden" design.

Yet Another T-Shirt Company

[Im]perfect Articles offers hand-dyed, hand-screened t-shirts by local artists. They were written up in the Tribune yesterday. (Thanks, Christian.)

Is Pilsen any Place for an American Girl?

The newest doll in the line of American Girl Place dolls is Marisol, a Mexican-American girl from the Pilsen neighborhood whose family moves to suburban Des Plaines because, as Marisol explains in her background story, Pilsen is "dangerous, and there was no place for me to play." Not too surprisingly, Pilsen leaders aren't too happy with the characterization of Pilsen as dangerous, while the mayor of Des Plaines points out that his city's Hispanic population is 17 percent. Meanwhile, local area American Girl Place customers can learn more about the new doll by joining a book club devoted to Marisol, "the girl who was born to dance."

Crafty Bang-Bang

The Chicago Craft Mafia is going to make you an offer you can't refuse. "Buy local, or else!" Inspired by the recent craft explosion hitting this fair city, six local crafters decided their familia would join forces with the national Craft Mafia familia. You'll be able to get the first glimpse of their joined efforts this coming Friday at TOJO gallery. There's no amount of "hush-money" that can keep these folks quiet, so you'll be hearing from them.

Record Store Reviews

Looking for a good record store? Look no further than RecordStoreReview.com. They've got a listing of nearly every shop in town (including a couple that no longer exist: Crow's Nest RIP), with customer reviews for most.

No More Zoots

Eric Zorn mourns the passing of the big-and-tall store Zoots in Jefferson Park. The store has been around in one form or another since 1920. There's a big clearance sale on now; go to ZootsOnline for a coupon for even further savings.

City Font

A nice t-shirt for Mac and/or typography geeks out there: "Chicago" in the font Chicago. (Thanks, Brenda)

Kraft Changes Marketing Strategy

The big news in the business world today is the announcement from Kraft Foods Inc. that it will no longer advertise Oreos, Chips Ahoy! cookies and several other sugary products during children's programming. Kraft Foods Inc. began in 1903 when James L. Kraft started a cheese delivery service in Chicago, using a horse-drawn wagon. Today the company is headquartered in suburban Northfield, IL.

Co-op Anyone?

If you ever shopped at your very own grocery Co-op, well, you probably didn't do it here. If you think that Chicago totally needs one (maybe in the Logan Square/Humboldt Park/Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village area) you can get in on the ground floor. A group of interested folks is circulating an email, asking for input from you. If you want some co-op of your own, write deliciae{at}yahoo{dot}com by January 31. There'll be a meeting come mid-February.

Another Brickyard in the Wall

The former site of the Brickyard Mall at Narragansett and Diversey is now a spanking new "power center" (or "lifestyle center") with a Target, Jewel, and Chicago's first Lowe's. It's really quite nice, but even nicer are these photos of the mall's demolition. The hosting site, Chuck's Photo Spot, also has plenty of Chicagoland urban exploration pics.

Still at the Ten Spot

Need to get a gift for your friend who surprised you with a great present? Local shirt shop Threadless has extended its $10 sale through the end of the year. Also up are the winner and runners up to their latest design contest. Since they're local, if you order now, you'll probably get the shirt in time to ring in '05. Or for other great local goods, check out some fly Gapers Block gear in our shop.

Transit map socks!

The CTA Tattler reminds us that a good last-minute gift idea for the holidays is to visit the CTA's gift shop at 567 W. Lake, where you can score such items as a CTA cycling jersey, a silk tie with the transit map printed on it, and pieces of jewelry made from old CTA tokens (which, as GB noted earlier this year, have mostly been melted down for the metal, except for the few used to make these pieces).

The Great Chicago Fire Sale continues

In case you haven't been keeping up with The Great Chicago Fire Sale, a bunch of new items have been added to the eBay auction in the last week. Among the new items you can bid on: a behind-the-scenes tour with the gardener from the City Escape retail store; a concert dedicated to a person of your choice at the Chicago Botanic Gardens; and a Lake Michigan cocktail party/cruise (watch out for bridges!). Oh, and in case you were wondering, the original Playboy Bunny costume sold to someone on Sunday for $6,000.

Holiday Greetings from Chicago

If you haven't sent out your holiday cards yet, you're cutting it pretty close. Head over to Paperboy for some kooky cards. Or hit the Art Institute Museum Shop for some more traditional ones. Or, for a non-religious option, you could pop over to the Chicago Architecture Foundation's gift shop and pick up some of their great "Build Your Own Chicago" postcards and send those out (they've got some Chicago-themed holiday cards, too).

New Knittery

If you're a knitter (or crocheter, or latch-hook rug maker), and a LYS (local yarn store) lover, you'll want to head right out to the latest Chicago yarn seller, Nina in Wicker Park. Daily Candy ventured there this week, and loved it. Unfortunately, Nina's website only has basic store information, but I'm hoping for some updates once the dust settles at the new space. Check Nina out at 1655 W. Division, (between Marshfield and Paulina).

reVerse for the Holidays

If you've got a writer on your shopping list, you should check out the totally cool, and totally cheap ($12) poetry and music collaboration titled reVerse. The brainchild of Poetry Center of Chicago Director Kenneth Clarke, reVerse features poem-songs, spoken word, and music by 14 artists, from Chicago and beyond including Li-Young Lee, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Lou Reed. Engineered by Wilco's Mikael Jorgensen (who also plays on a few tracks), reVerse is certainly a fine melting together of poetry and songwriting. You can listen to clips, check out artist bios, and purchase a copy online.

Holiday Shopping Guide #3

Still trying to come up with a holiday gift? Consider locally created art! The Lill Street Art Center has an awesome gallery, and so does the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative. You might also consider giving someone the gift of learning how to make art themselves.

Holiday Shopping Guide #2

Looking for some extraordinary gifts for family and friends? The 4th Annual One of a Kind Show runs this weekend at the Merchandise Mart, with a First Look preview Thursday night. Hit up the 8th floor location sometime this weekend for "thousands of gifts made by hand by North America's most talented fine artists and fine craftspeople." The Mart's superb customer service includes free on-site childcare, as well as coat and package check, and package carryout service, all included in the $10 ticket fee.

Holiday Shopping Guide #1

'Tis the season to shop like mad, and it just so happens that many local purveyors of goods are offering discounts. For instance, Brilliante Records, home of The M's, has a three-CDs-for-$20 deal, and I See France has discounted its "cute underthings." Daily Candy has a list of sample sales, too.

All That Glitters

This weekend the Chicago Cultural Center is hosting All That Glitters: A Holiday Bazaar. At this two-day event you will be able to buy gifts from cultural organizations and local artists from all over the city. For those of you who remember, this event seems to be filling the gap left by the Newberry Library's defunct Very Merry Bazaar. Thank you City of Chicago! All That Glitters is open Friday 10am to 6pm and Saturday 10am to 5pm.

Shop local! Buy independent!

Ahh, the holiday shopping season. Whether you love it or hate it, this is the time of year when we all find ourselves spending money. It's been proven that spending your money in locally-owned stores benefits the city much more than buying at a large retail chain. Thankfully Studio 9 Gallery is displaying more than a dozen local crafters goods through December 24th. And Depart-ment takes place this weekend which lets you buy more locally-produced goods. So go ahead and spend, but do it wisely.

Wanna Buy a House?

EBay Pulse is an interesting barometer of the online auction world. It also allowed me to learn that the current highest-priced item on eBay is a mansion in north suburban Highland Park. Million-dollar opening bid? Peanuts compared with its $6.995 million realtor listing.

Yeah, they're just t-shirts, but they're really hip t-shirts

According to this profile of the brand in the New York Times, American Apparel will open its first Chicago retail store on Friday. Where? Wicker Park, where else? Future outlets of the Gap For Hipsters will follow in Evanston and the Gold Coast.

Records to Buy!

A brand new record store is opening up in Hyde Park this week. Hyde Park records is celebrating its grand opening tomorrow night from 7-11. Go early and get the first peek at the best of the collection! DJ Meaty Ogre will be there spinning obscure soul 45's for most of the night. There will also be food, drinks...and so many records!

For That Mad Scientist on Your List

Clearly, Chicago needs more places to find robot parts, cheap, and American Science and Surplus is here to meet those needs. You can shop the catalogue online, and find lab supplies, motors, optics, and tons of other things that can make one quite giddy with possibility, or you can visit their Chicago store on Milwaukee just north of Foster, or head out to their Geneva store. [Thanks, Melissa!]

Attention SearsMart Shoppers

Kmart and Sears announced today that Kmart would buy the 118-year-old Chicago company, creating the world's third-largest retailer. The newly merged entity will use the Sears name, as Sears Holdings Company, and will be headquartered at Sears' current digs in suburban Hoffman Estates. Kmart's recent bankruptcy was handled by the Chicago-based corporate restructuring practice of Skadden, Arps. For more Sears history, visit the Sears Archive (which we told you about just last week). 

Where the West Elm Grows

If you watch enough Queer Eye, you'll recognize the furniture and tables that they decorate with from the urban home store West Elm. Until recently, you had to shop online or order their print catalogue to achieve that same level of hip sofa action. But now, West Elm has hit Oak Brook with a store of its own where you can peruse, fluff and lounge. Ooh, and hey, they're hiring.

Wrigley Gets Minty and Fruity

The Wrigley Company announced today that it's buying the Altoids and Life Savers brands from the Kraft Company. This doesn't mean that these candies will be produced in Chicago, but it does help boost our candy capital a bit. I hope that Wrigley keeps these cool online arcade games when the transaction's over.

DIY Trunk Show II

In less than a week, almost 100 individuals are going to be gathering at Pulaski Park to show and sell what they've spent the last several months feverishly making. This Do-It-Yourself effort takes place just before the holiday shopping madness so you can check everyone's name off your list, know exactly who gets your hard-earned dough, and be able to kick back and relax for the next month and a half. If you'd like to help out, some volunteers are still needed. Aw, c'mon! You'll get a button and Amy and Cinnamon's gratitude.

Retail Therapy

Need some new threads, fast and cheap? Head over to local shirt stylists Threadless for their "Nude No More" sale. Every week until Christmas, they're going to launch five new Tees and sell them for $10. Best of all, if you order before noon, you could be wearing your new shirt tomorrow. That's some fast fashion.

Commercial potential

GB contributor Phineas X. Jones recently started selling a calendar featuring 12 of his excellent photo collages, as seen on his site. There are some wonderful Chicago images in the calendar, including ones taken at Wrigley Field, various lakeshore beaches and the late lamented Marigold Bowl. And if you like something you see in the calendar, you might peruse Phineas' catalog of prints for sale. These items make wonderful holiday gifts for those who enjoy lots of tiny pictures in close proximity to each other. Check 'em out.

Desperately Seeking a Logo

Do you like logos? Sure, we all do! The Oak Park Farmers' Market is seeking a new logo, and is accepting submissions through November 1st. Two finalists will be picked in two categories: under 18 years old, and 18 and over. The only catch is the prize - or lack thereof: the winner only gets to see his/her logo all over the place. If you can live with that, get crackin'.

Spicing Up the Season

The Spice House is one of my favorite shops. The staff is always friendly and super-knowledgeable, always ready to answer questions. This Saturday and Sunday 10-11:30am, owners Patty and Tom Erd will be at the Chalet Nursery Education Center, 3132 Lake Ave. in Wilmette, presenting "The Lure and Lore of Spices," featuring the fascinating history of spices, interesting trivia and spice tastings. The first 50 people at each session get a goodie bag. Call the Chalet at 847/256-0561 for more info.

Down with Chain Stores, Shop Local

Andersonville's chamber of commerce announced a study that found local, independent stores are better for neighborhoods. For every $100 in sales, independent stores generate $73 that stays in the local economy, while a chain store provides just $43 in local economic impact on average nationally. The chamber intends to persuade city hall to protect the neighborhood from chain stores, hoping to avoid the fate of Lincoln Park.

Say It with Glass Block

The Glass Block Factory might not be the first place you'd look for unique gifts this holiday season, but it'll be your last. How could you pass up such cool furniture as this?! (Thanks, Cat.)

Downtown Gamblin'

Block 37 keeps getting more interesting. Now the idea has been floated that the Block 37 development might feature a casino. No one's saying it's a done deal, but just imagine: gambling, right at your favorite El stop.

Gory garage sale

As Defiant Theatre staggers toward the grave—the company's final and well-received production, "A Clockwork Orange", closes this Saturday—they're getting rid of their inventory with a "Graverobbing Sale." They promise to have "tons of costumes, props, office equipment, phalli, and much, much more" on the cheap. The sale is Saturday, 10am-4pm at Defiant's warehouse space at 3711 N. Ravenswood.

The City on eBay

The city is putting itself on eBay... sort of. The Great Chicago Fire Sale purports to be the first city-wide eBay auction by a municipality (assumably they don't mean of a municipality.) Starting December 2, you'll be able to bid on items ranging from a vintage Playboy Bunny costume to city manhole covers to sports memorabilia to "priceless" items such as helping dye the river green next St. Pat's or having lunch with Michael Sneed. Proceeds got to fund city arts and cultural programs. Get ready for a bidding war!

Hershey's on the Boul Mich

Yet one more reason to avoid the intersection of Michigan and Chicago Avenues: Hershey's plans to open a chocolate "factory" on the Mag Mile sometime next spring. The very kid-oriented store will sell loads of chocolate goodies and allow customers to help create their own candies.

There's no such thing as a free car

If you were waiting for a reason to stop feeling jealous of all those Oprah audience members who got free cars, here it is. According to the Sun-Times, the people who received free cars will have to report them as income on their taxes. And because of the value of the cars ($28,500 each), some recipients will be pushed into a higher tax bracket, meaning they'll have to pay a significant percentage of the car's value in taxes. Because of this, some of the craftier recipients are waiting until next year to pick up their cars, so they won't have to deal with the added income for this year. Clever!

IKEA Bolingbröök

IKEA broke ground yesterday for its second Chicagoland store in Bolingbrook. The new store will be built on 21 acres, have 1,300 parking spaces and will cover 310,000 square feet. It won't open until Fall 2005, so we city dwellers have plenty of time to figure out where the h*ll Bolingbrook is, and if it's any closer to us than the Schaumburg store (which, you know, is not close at all).

Wal-Mart: we're cutting our locations!

Wal-Mart has dropped plans for a South Side store, after the company got concerned about efforts to impose minimum wage and benefits standards on the store. Wal-Mart is continuing its plans for a West Side store (which would be at 1657 N. Kilpatrick), but if ordinances that impose minimum standards pass the Chicago City Council, that second store might also be in trouble.

Casketco

Costco is testing out a new item at two Chicago-area stores: caskets. Six different models, each priced at $799.99. Although some shoppers seemed open to the idea of buying their casket at the same place they buy bulk quantities of food, funeral arrangers are less enthusiastic, and are worried that reduced-cost caskets may mean an increase in funeral prices, to make up the missed revenue.

Rotofugi Plush

Popped into Rotofugi last night just as they accepted the first order from their new online store. And upon perusing their plush selection, they noted there are three plush (that's "stuffed animals" to us amateurs) companies here in Chicago: Spasmodica, Shawnimals and Poog-Goos. Cool!

Garage sale for musicians

The Different Strummer, the music store at the Old Town School of Folk Music, holds its annual garage sale this weekend (it starts today, if you want to get a jump on the deals). If you're a musician and you're in the market for some deals, you really need to check this event out. Guitars, amps, drums, ukuleles, violins, books, CDs, accessories, instrument cases ... if it's sold at the store, it'll probably be there at the garage sale, at greatly reduced prices. And once you have your instrument, why not sign up for a class at the school? The next 8-week session starts on August 30, and you can save $15 if you sign up by the 23rd.

Illinois Farm Direct

The Illinois Farm Direct Farmer to Consumer Directory has a searchable list of Illinois farmers that will sell their produce directly to you -- yes, YOU. Type in your zip code and a search radius, and you'll see what farmers are within your reach. And then you can support local farmers, while getting fresh farm produce at the same time. Everybody wins!

Umlaut Time

The new IKEA catalogues are now online for 2005. Check them out here, or get yourself to their Schaumburg store to browse their new stock. For those who like to dog-ear pages, you should be seeing it in the mail soon.

Flea Markets

Looking for some knick-knack to fill out your mantle? Hankerin' for an antique? You might consider hitting the flea market circuit. Here's a handy list of Illinois flea markets to get you started -- alas, it doesn't include the Chicago Antique Market, which is a bit higher class.

Kohl's Opening in Chicago

Chicago apparently can't have enough discount retailers clamoring for our shopping dollars. The latest entry on the field is Kohl's Department Store, which will be opening its first Chicago location along the Elston corridor on a site that was formerly a DuPont Chemical Co. paint factory. Kohl's will be joined by a new Best Buy store. Because, you know, you can never have enough Best Buys.

Designer Toys

Fans of designer toys finally have a local store just for them here in the city: Rotofugi is now open at 1953 W. Chicago. Stop in for a cool vinyl figure, or wait till the Monkey Show and grand opening party July 30. Yay!

More Wal-Mart in Chicago

"The debate over Wal-Mart here in Chicago has raised a lot of questions and opened a lot of eyes. I don't think this story is over yet - far from it." A bit late to the game, but the New York Times offers an article about the debate of putting two Wal-Marts in Chicago. Forget Wal-Mart. When are they finally going to put a Cracker Barrel in River North?

Semi-Disposable Swedish Bolingbrook

It looks like the second Chicagoland IKEA will be in Bolingbrook. The cheap-yet-stylish furniture mecca plans to open the new store sometime late next year.

Bank None

Chicago's Bank One is officially no more today, having been purchased by JP Morgan Chase. Look for the Bank One name to be replaced by Chase, JP Morgan's retail banking arm.

Unicorns, Aisle Three

It's time for another DEPART-ment show, where all the cool people buy their handcrafted products from independent artists and crafters in a department store-like environment. Opening night is tomorrow from 7pm to 11pm at Open End Gallery, 2000 W. Fulton. It runs through Sunday.

City Babe

Here's a slightly different gift for your friend's toddler: the Tot Cot, his or her own little sleeping bag for nursery schoo, from Urban Infant. Aww. (Thanks, Heather)

Wal-Mart coming to Chicago

It's official: the City Council has approved zoning changes for a Wal-Mart store on the West Side. Update: the Trib reports that the South Side store didn't have enough votes to pass.

Changes in Loop Lunches

One company decides Chicago is key to its success, while another decides to leave the market altogether. Cosi is moving its headquarters to Chicago from New York this fall; the move will save $1.85 million in cash annually, the company said. Unfortunately for Briazz, things aren't going so well. Briazz Inc. has shut down its eight stores in Chicago, the only market away from the West Coast in which the lunch-cafe chain operates.

Glad I have a Cell Phone

Get ready for phone problems: the Communications Workers of America have announced a four-day strike against SBC, starting at midnight Friday. That, of course, means Chicago will see even longer delays than normal for repairs and new service -- not to mention hours on hold waiting to talk to customer service. No comment so far on the local CWA chapter's website. (Thanks, Brenda)

Chicago Antique Market

Finally! Chicago will have an antique market in its very own backyard. You can choose to skip the long trek up to Kane County or Sandwich if you like, because on the last Sundays of the month Randolph street will be filled with fancy antiques and flea market type junky things. It's been about nine years since there was a market in the Randolph Market district. The first Sunday is scheduled for May 30th. Admission is $8 and there's free parking. The market will be on Randolph, between Ada and Ogden. For more information call 312/951-9939 or visit chicagoantiquemarket.com.