Chicago

Celebrate Small Business Saturday at These Chicago Shops

Make a big impact by shopping small.

Plant Salon
Plant Salon
Plant Salon

Shopping at small businesses often means you’re putting your money directly back into your community. Supporting local folks who had a dream and a few dollars, who could be your neighbors, friends, and family, is always a beautiful way to go. Local entrepreneurs who put their all into their businesses, usually solo or with a small team, deserve to have their hard work noticed and shared far and wide, not just on Small Business Saturday, but all year-round.

So when you’re shopping about this weekend and beyond, check out these top places to buy gifts, have a drink in between stores, and even enjoy a rewarding meal after you’ve knocked out your list.

Semillas Plant Studio
Semillas Plant Studio
Semillas Plant Studio

Semillas Plant Studio

Pilsen
Angelica Varela started Semillas (seeds in Spanish) after being laid off during the pandemic, when she began tending to the plants in her home as a means of combating depression and anxiety. Combining her connection to her Mexican roots with her belief in plant therapy, Varela opened Semillas’ first brick-and-mortar location in the neighborhood she grew up in, Pilsen, in July of 2020. The shop was busy with pop-ups this summer all while renovating their new permanent location-opening, fittingly, on Small Business Saturday (November 27)-and are always ready to spread joy and love through the power of horticulture.
How to Support: Follow on Instagram for opening updates.

Monday Coffee Co.
Monday Coffee Co.
Monday Coffee Co.

Monday Coffee Co.

Various locations
Black and queer creatives Amanda Christine Harth and Felton Kizer linked up in 2015 while working at their respective nine-to-five gigs. Coffee was always a beautiful centerpiece to their friendship, and they constantly shared cups and conversations until the idea for Monday Coffee Company was born. Small batches are bottled and brewed right here in Chicago from beans out of Michigan, and you can enjoy a cup of coffee and have some conversation of your own at their residencies around the city.
How to Support: Stop by Retreat at Currency Exchange or Soho House for in-store shopping or purchase online.

Atmos Coffee Shop
Atmos Coffee Shop
Atmos Coffee Shop

Atmos Coffee Shop

Humboldt Park
You can taste the love at Black- and Latina-owned Atmos Coffee-and that makes sense, as coffee was an integral part of owners and partners Antoine and Arianna Scott’s own love story. Their first date was at a coffee shop, they gave bags of coffee away as gifts at their wedding, and now they’re sharing delicious coffee and treats with the masses out of their cozy cafe in Humboldt Park. They’re coming up on their one year anniversary this December, so you have to head over and check out neighborhood favorite-Abuelitas Latte-to help them celebrate.
How to Support: Stop by for in-store shopping or purchase online.

Luvsick Plus
Luvsick Plus
Luvsick Plus

LuvSick Plus

Logan Square & West Town
Started by Britteny Riordan and her love of vintage clothing, Luvsick Plus is dedicated to making plus-size babes feel like the beautiful bombshells we are. With two locations-Logan Square and West Town-packed with fantastic pieces ranging from size 12 to 22 with a few 24s, Riordan is helping to fill the gap in fashion that often excludes fat and curvy bodies. Earlier this year the store also launched a vintage home goods line, so now your house can look just as cute as you.
How to Support: Stop by for in-store shopping or purchase online.

Semicolon Bookstore
Semicolon Bookstore
Semicolon Bookstore

Semicolon Bookstore and Gallery

Wicker Park
Black bookseller Danielle Mullen opened up Semicolon Bookstore as a way to find joy during a bout with cancer in 2019. Since then, the store has spread the love to readers all across the city, making it their mission to make book-lovers out of the next generation. To boot, they’re set to open Parenthesis, a not-for-profit pop-up used bookstore where proceeds will help continue to close the literacy gap in marginalized communities, at the end of the month.
How to Support: Stop by for in-store shopping, purchase online, and follow Parenthesis for pop-up updates.

The Lotus Den Chicago
The Lotus Den Chicago
The Lotus Den Chicago

The Lotus Den

South Loop
Located in the South Loop, the Lotus Den has everything you need to get yourself good and centered. The staff is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, boasting over 12 years of experience in the industry. Alongside hand-picked and affordable crystals, jewelry, and books covering all things spiritual, this Black- and woman-owned business also offers Reiki sessions and training for those who want to turn their own hands into healers.
How to Support: Stop by for in-store shopping or purchase and book sessions online.

Kido
Kido
Kido

KIDO Chicago

South Loop
A children’s store started by husband and wife team Keewa and Doug, this shop caters to the cute and cool kids (and their parents) of The Windy City. Both owners are descendants of Black Wall Street, and by opening KIDO, they’re following in their families’ footsteps as Black entrepreneurs who focus, love, and support their local community. Stocking books, toys, clothing, and more that help many Black children see a reflection of themselves, this spot is much more than just a fun place to shop-it’s an important one.
How to Support: Stop by for in-store shopping or purchase online.

Birria Ta-Ta-Tacos
Birria Ta-Ta-Tacos
Birria Ta-Ta-Tacos

Birria Ta-Ta-Tacos

Various locations
Quesabirria-birria-style beef smothered in gooey cheese and served in a tortilla with a side of au jus-took everyone by storm this summer, and here in Chicago, that means Birria Ta-Ta-Tacos, where chef Oskar puts family front and center. The pop-up is named after a beloved family member, and after his family tried his birria tacos, Birria Ta-Ta-Tacos was born. They purposefully eschew a permanent location, as chef Oskar aims to make street food culture truly appreciated here in Chicago and beyond.
How to Support: Follow on Instagram for pop-up location updates.

G.V. Jewelry
G.V. Jewelry
G.V. Jewelry

G.V. Jewelry

Andersonville
For over 30 years, G.V. Jewelry has been helping folks put the finishing touches on special moments. A family-owned and -operated jewelry store in the notably queer Andersonville neighborhood, G.V. Jewelry has been inclusive since the start. Most of their work-from design to production-is done in-house and owner and jeweler Julio (son of the store’s namesake founder, Gerardo Velasquez) works closely with customers to make sure they get the gems of their dreams.
How to Support: Stop by for in-store shopping or purchase and schedule consultations online.

Los Naturales

Pilsen
The world of wine can often feel rather intimidating, but Oscar Salinas, Adam Jimenez, and August Marron are trying to erase the stigma that good wine is only for the snobby set. Located inside Caminos De Michoacan-and only open Saturday and Sunday afternoons-it’s a place to kick back, engage in some good conversation, and learn all about the magic of natural wine.
How to Support: Stop by for in-store shopping.

Wish Me Luck Tattoo
Wish Me Luck Tattoo
Wish Me Luck Tattoo

Wish Me Luck Tattoo

Logan Square
Chicagos first Black, Queer, and Trans owned tattoo shop, Wish Me Luck has been a haven for the queer community since 2020. Tattoos often allow us queer folks to feel fuller and more realized in our bodies, but many shops aren’t safe spaces for us. This venture has changed the game, not only providing a beautiful and welcoming studio, but also employing queer, trans, and other marginalized folks as artists and apprentices, giving them a start and continuing to make the greater tattoo community far more inclusive.
How to Support: Purchase merch and schedule consultations online.

Plant Salon
Plant Salon
Plant Salon

Plant Salon Chicago

West Town
When you pop into this West Town destination, expect the epitome of “Good Vibes Only.” Nika Vaughan blended her love for the beauty industry with her adoration of plants, and thus emerged Plant Salon. All around the store you’ll find things that are meant to bring peaceful energy, from bath salts and candles to beautiful planters and, of course, plants. It’s the perfect place to shop for your self-care focused friends and maybe take something home for yourself, too.
How to Support: Stop by for in-store shopping or purchase online.

Vintage Frills

Avondale
Like many of us, Jen Kelly has quite a few years of retail experience under her belt. She turned that work history, along with her love for vintage fashion, into her own Avondale storefront. The store’s bright and colorful pockets are filled with eye-catching styles from yesteryear, all at incredibly affordable prices. Kelly also has a vintage-filled bus that acts as a mobile pop-up shop, driving around the city and bringing styles straight to you.
How to Support: Stop by for in-store shopping and follow The Vintage Fleet on Instagram for pop-up location updates.

Funeral Potatoes
Funeral Potatoes
Funeral Potatoes

Funeral Potatoes

Virtual
For those who don’t do so well in the kitchen but still want an amazing meal, Funeral Potatoes is where it’s at. Started by chefs Eve Studnicka and Alexis Rice, they’re currently in week 80 of what they thought would be a short-term pop-up to help with finances during the pandemic. Menus filled with spins on family favorites and hometown comfort foods drop every Sunday afternoon via IG (where you can also order via a link) and the best favorite part? They also offer a “Pay What You Can” option, so no one gets turned away from a home-cooked meal.
How to Support: Follow on Instagram for menu updates and ordering information.

Eggy’s Gems

Virtual
Like many thrift-lovers, Eggy’s Gems owner and creator Melanie has been hunting down great second-hand items since she was a child. After expanding her territory to estate sales a few years ago, she started sharing her vintage finds with the world, allowing them to welcome quality old-school gems into their own homes. Working out of her house in Evanston, Melanie offers delivery and shipping services for a fee as well as a local pick-up option. You can also catch Eggy’s Gems at vintage markets around the city, like this year’s Thriftkindl Vintage Holiday Market, where you can leave with your new-to-you goods in hand.
How to Support: Follow on Instagram for inventory updates and ordering information.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Shelli Nicole is a contributor for Thrillist.

Chicago

Robyn DaCultyre Is Doing It for the Culture

"The cool thing about Ohio is that there is literally a place for everyone."

Photo by Kayode Omoyosi
Photo by Kayode Omoyosi
Photo by Kayode Omoyosi

I was introduced to Robyn DaCultyre at an Untitled Queen show at C’mon Everybody in late January, and it was one of the most unique drag shows I’d seen in a while. Afterwards, I tracked down this self-described “drag creature” and video chatted about her drag origin story, the state of drag in her native Ohio, and the dual identities that make up her persona. Thrillist: I want to ask you about how Robyn DaCultyre came about and your point of view behind your performance.

Robyn DaCultyre: I’ve been travelling around the country from a young age in ministry and Christian studies. I moved to Chicago right after high school. Four years later, moved back to Columbus and decided I didn’t really want to do church anymore; that wasn’t where my heart was.

I had a really low point in my life and had a suicide attempt and then really found drag and started doing drag as a coping mechanism and way to let off steam. I started in July of 2019, and it was really a lot of punk and metal music. I created this drag creature of sorts and they were really out of this world and celestial and all of those fun alien type terms.

And then we went into a global pandemic and I had a lot of time to figure out who I wanted to be. Digitally I was still doing a lot of drag creature-esque numbers and all of that, but I had this moment where we’re on the front lines getting hit with pepper spray and rubber bullets and pepper spray-all of those lovely things. And I said, I have this platform and I need to start showcasing what’s happening.

Untitled [Queen] stepped in at the right time and messaged me and said, “I’m doing this show for Independence Day called Untitled in America with 52 different performers and I want you to be a part of it.” It was at that moment I was able to take the footage I had been recording on the front lines and incorporate it into digital content. I did a song called Black Like Me by Mickey Guyton that talks about white picket fences, but if you want to see how America is, then you should try being Black like me. The imagery of what’s literally happening in Columbus in that digital performance really spearheaded me into focusing on people who look like me.

Nina Simone is one of my biggest inspirations, and one of her quotes that resonates with me is that it’s the duty of the artist to resonate with the times. My art is politically charged. I like to entertain, but there will definitely be a time when you come to a show expecting to have your drink and be chill and that might not be the case.

How did the name Robyn DaCultyre come about?

I was smoking with Ursula Major, who was on season one of Dragula, and the first time I introduced myself to her I was Robyn Banks, which is my drag name originally. She said, “Well, do you just not want to be original at all?” [Laughs] And I sat with that for a couple of months, and I got really stoned one day and was listening to Janelle Monae, and she talks about doing it for the culture, and I said “I do it for the culture, too!” And the rest is history.

And you started a series called Melanated.

We started Melanated last February. I told the idea to my show director that there were no shows specifically run by Black people that only featured Black entertainers. I wanted to do this show for a night and she said, Why don’t we do it once a week for the whole month? The first show happens, and it’s a sold out crowd, and [my director] comes back and says we should do this every month. So I sucked it up and here we are a year later.

Melanated is the only fully Black show in all of the state. It’s a horrible marketing tool and not something I want to promote, but it is just a fact. It amazes me that we are the 13th largest city in America and there’s nothing here that’s fully focused on Black entertainers. The name also comes from Janelle Monae; she says she’s highly melanated and I said, that works.

Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)
Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)
Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)

You refer to yourself as a drag creature, as opposed to drag queen or king…

This is actually the first time I’m making this public. I am in this place where I want to separate the alternative creature from who this melanated goddess or whatever is. DaCultyre is definitely the person who runs Melanated and then Robyn is this drag creature that is out of this world and really loves punk and alternative music. And both intertwine to make Robyn DaCultyre.

You also do pageants. Tell me about that.

In 2020 I was appointed by Nina West, who is from Columbus, as the representative from Ohio for National Entertainer of the Year in Louisville, Kentucky. I placed ninth out of 13 contestants and I really fell in love with the system and fell in love with the pageantry and loved the idea of reigning and being different. I want to show that we as alternative performers, as bearded performers, you can come into these systems and shake things up.

Is there a uniquely “Ohio” style of drag?

No, and I think that’s one of the things that makes it so amazing is that everyone has their own unique style, and it’s all pretty much accepted. I started as a performer and a drag creature and there was space that was afforded to me and I transitioned to more glamor and pageantry and that’s afforded to me as well. I’ve been a bearded entertainer for a year now. The cool thing about Ohio is that there is literally a place for everyone.

I think I have everything I need. Is there anything else I didn’t ask you about that you want to bring up, or‚Ķ

I don’t think so. Are there any generic questions you haven’t asked?

Generic questions‚ĶI think I asked all of them already [laughs]. I like to ask what you’d be doing if you weren’t doing drag?

It’s a great question. I have a day job that is very demanding so I need drag to get away. I’m also very creative and artistic. I used to do web design and all these other things to pull into my creativity. Drag is the longest thing I’ve stuck with in all parts of my life, so I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

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John deBary¬†is a drinks expert and writer. His first cocktail book,¬†Drink What You Want, is available now, and his next book,¬†Saved by the Bellini, is expected in early 2023. He is also the co-founder and president of the¬†Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of hospitality industry professionals through advocacy, grant making, and impact investing.

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