Above / Greg Gordon of Dog Patch Pet & Feed who keeps monthly IndieBound Naperville meetings moving forward is pictured with Mayor Steve Chirico and the bright red sign that helps identify Naperville’s independent business community.
Surrounded by memorabilia, artifacts and newspaper clippings featuring Kreger’s Grocery dating back to 1893, one of DuPage County’s oldest enterprises provided space for members of IndieBound Naperville to hear the 35-year history of another independent family-owned business on Jan. 4.
Bill Kreger (rhymes with beggar), owner of Kreger’s Brat and Sausage Haus, the business that reinvented itself after a brief hiatus in 2013, welcomed 30 members of IndieBound Naperville (IBN) to its first meeting of the New Year.
Above / On Jan. 4, 2016, Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico shared insights that he’s learned during the 35-year history of owning Great Western Flooring.
Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico, also owner of Great Western Flooring and IBN member, kicked off the 2016 meeting schedule for the group of local independent business owners that now meets monthly at Kreger’s.
During his presentation, Chirico provided an overview of the independently-owned business he started in 1981 to serve the western suburbs. In 1984, he incorporated Great Western Tile into what is now The Great Western Flooring Company, still independent and family-owned; yet, now managed by his two oldest daughters, Lauren and Dana.
Above / Mayor Steve Chirico cited one of his reasons for first running for City Council in 2011 was to have small business representation on the governing body. Since May 3, 2015, Chirico has served as Mayor.
Chirico shared his insights regarding his company’s growth to include locations in St. Charles, Oswego, West Chicago, Plainfield and a warehouse in Naperville. Then he described the impact of the downturn in the economy on new home sales in 2007 that negatively affected his carpet, tile and wood flooring business. Today Great Western has showrooms in Naperville, Oswego and St. Charles.
He also discussed how his business has survived challenges and changes with an optimistic outlook of “what goes around comes around,” noting that Internet businesses can go out of business, too.
“As a small business owner,” he said, addressing the advantages of being nimble, adjusting to competition, staying innovative and making your own decisions, “it’s hard to put a value on independence.”
Chirico said when his daughters first approached him about joining his business, he suggested they likely could make more money in the corporate world.
But they had already recognized the benefits and value of a small business in their community.
Click any photo below to enlarge. The photo gallery is a sampling of casual meetings held at Kreger’s Brat and Sausage House in 2015 and other IBN “shop local” promotions that included Waldo and the Grinch.
Inspired by Independent booksellers across the country who came together to unite like-minded businesses and independent thinkers, IndieBound-Naperville is a grassroots movement that’s grown one merchant at a time since October 2008 when Becky Anderson hosted the first meeting held on a Sunday evening after hours at Anderson’s Bookshop. Today the group touts more than 150 members.
Members have the opportunity to meet monthly, though it’s not mandatory, in a relaxed setting. They also exhibit bright red IndieBound Naperville signs that proclaim “Support local independent businesses.”
Their aim is to urge residents to boost recognition of independent businesses and to educate about the value of spending dollars locally; thereby, helping to keep the city’s economy and local culture thriving. Small businesses have a long history as the driving force to create jobs in the American economy.
It’s just common sense that turning dollars around locally through recirculation will help limit the amount of dollars flowing out of the region. Shopping locally is a stabilizing influence that brings revenues for city services, police and fire protection, schools and parks, added Chirico.
After Chirico’s presentation on Jan. 4, members engaged in a lively interactive discussion regarding resounding messages, future goals, support of nonprofit agencies and membership fees. (Currently, membership is a one-time fee of $80 to cover costs of the red window sign and promotions.)
IndieBound members meet to educate each other, exchange ideas, link their local energies and share business practices in a casual social setting without a formalized agenda or required attendance policy.
In the past, the eclectic group has addressed marketing, social media, community service, workplace issues, financing and loans available to small businesses as well as customer appreciation/discounts, to name a few topics.
During 2015, other independent entrepreneurs—Dan Casey of Casey’s Foods, Kris Hartner of Naperville Running Co., Scott Flak of Second City Web Design, Rich and Michael Massat of The Growing Place—told their stories that collectively span more than 150 years of local business experience.
In addition, member attorney Chuck Corrigan of Dommermuth, Cobine, West, Gensler, Philipchuck, Corrigan & Bernhard, Ltd. addressed the group regarding legal issues that could confront the workplace.
Whenever possible, residents are encouraged to balance shopping between national enterprises and small local businesses. Locally-owned enterprises make a big difference to Naperville’s charm, culture and character every day of the year from downtown Naperville and throughout its many shopping destinations.
What’s more, many owners of small businesses actively are involved in the community—they’re the ones who frequently serve on local boards, foundations and commissions. Many of them are the heartbeat of the community from one neighbor to the next.
Plus, local business owners are more likely to know your name with a warm welcome. They aim to provide quality services so you’ll keep coming back.
“Put your dollars where your heart is,” is the message on a bookmark that also lists 10 things that happen when shoppers support local independent Naperville businesses.
In the words of Casey’s Foods owner Dan Casey, “Support your local businesses and you’ll always live in a nice community.”
IBN meets next at 6PM Mon., February 1
Meetings typically are held at 6PM on the first Monday of the month at Kreger’s Brat and Sausage Haus where different business representatives take turns providing refreshments and beverages. The next meeting is February 1, 2016. Independent business owners and managers always are welcome.
For more info, visit www.indieboundnaperville.org. The IBN website also includes a :30 commercial and a video feature put together by NCTV-17.