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Crime has some women business owners rethinking their futures in Chicago

Crime has some women small business owners in Chicago planning on leaving
Crime has some women small business owners in Chicago planning on leaving 02:50

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Crime, safety, and lack of police patrols have all been held up as reasons some small business owners in Chicago say they have had enough and are getting ready to move out.

As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, one of those owners has a long history downtown. She owns Sugar Bliss, at 122 S. Wabash Ave. in the Palmer House Hilton building, which has been in business for more than a decade.

But after someone vandalized her store and tried to steal a purse while she was in the shop, last week, she is rethinking her future in Chicago – and she is not alone.

"We're basically sitting ducks," said Sugar Bliss owner Teresa Ging.

Ging said stress has replaced the joy of working in her cupcake and cookie storefront. Incidents like the one that happened this past Friday are the reason.

"He came in the front door of our store, then came around to the cash register," Ging said.

This happened in broad daylight at 10:20 a.m. Friday. The man was then captured on security camera as he trashed part of her shop – and then tried to steal a purse on the way out.

This all happened while Ging was having a Women in Business Networking meeting.

"It happened very quickly, but I feel like this is – I mean, it's sad to say, like, I'm numb to this. You know what I mean?" she said. "It happens once a month, at least."

Ging called police. They showed up 40 minutes later. She then fired off an email to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), and others.

Ging is fired up. So is Uzma Sharif, the owner of Chocolat Uzma, at 1900 S. Halsted St. in the Pilsen community.

"We can't live like this. The city has become – I won't even say, Gotham City is a little bit better, because you have Batman," Sharif said. "Here, you don't have Batman – you know what I mean?"

After nine years in Pilsen, a 2021 burglary, and a friend's carjacking just blocks away, Sharif is closing her retail shop at the end of September and moving it to the suburbs.

The suburbs, she said, are "where they have the well-funded police departments and where they want our business. It's going to be DuPage or Will County."

Ging is doing something similar. While a long-term lease will keep her store in the Loop for several years, she now needs a new manufacturer for her prepackaged cookies.

"When I start calling co-packers, it's not in Chicago anymore – it's outside of Chicago," she said.

Both Ging and Sharif feel city leaders are not concerned enough about small business safety. Add a police shortage and a year-to-year rise in most crimes to that list, and they feel they have no other choice.

<strong>Sharif:</strong> "It's happening everywhere – and that's my concern."

<strong>Kozlov:</strong> "So you really feel that getting out of the city retail-wise is your only option."

<strong>Sharif:</strong> "Unless I hire a 24/7 security guard to stand in front of my door, that's my only option."

Kozlov looked at the stats – and while some crimes like murder are down citywide, robbery, burglary, thefts, and carjackings are up.

Both Ging and Sharriff say those numbers are even more critical when you consider the majority of small business owners are women.

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