Small Business Storefront Activations Launch Across Chicago Creating Unique Shopping Experiences

Nov 17, 2022
Storefront activations energize commercial corridors ahead of the holiday shopping season aiming to support small businesses and reimagine vacant spaces

CHICAGO – Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) announced the opening of over 55 spaces as part of the City’s Small Business Storefront Activation Program. These storefront activations are the culmination of $2 million in grant funding the City awarded to seventeen local community and economic development organizations to support small businesses by activating previously vacant storefronts across the city. 

These grantees worked closely with small business owners, artists, and landlords to provide rapid relief to small businesses by designing and implementing vacant storefront activations on commercial corridors just in time for the Holidays. Through collaboration and dedication of these organizations, Chicagoans will have a chance to shop at 25 Pop-Up spaces filled with over 140 vendors and view art from over 50 artists in 30 previously vacant storefronts.

“The Small Business Storefront Activation Program is truly unique as it showcases Chicago’s entrepreneurial spirit and abundance of artistic talent—all while enhancing our local economy and generating new foot-traffic," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "Given how essential small businesses are to the commercial corridors of our neighborhoods, I want to encourage Chicagoans to take advantage of the holiday season and spend some time shopping at the exciting new spaces provided by this incredible program, which will ultimately help to make our communities that much more vibrant."

“The small business storefront activations allow small businesses, entrepreneurs, and Chicago’s creative makers the opportunity to explore the market of a physical retail space, test their concepts, and interact with customers – all in time for the Holiday shopping season,” said BACP Commissioner Kenneth J. Meyer. “The art installations will highlight the vacant storefronts as potential retail opportunities and provide new audiences for local artists, which is a win-win for the community at-large.”

Small Business Storefront Activation Program Locations and Information:   

  • 18th Street Development Corporation
    • Inaugural event November 26th
    • Pilsen Pop-Up Shop 
    • Cermak Pop-Up Shop, 1835 W. Cermak Rd. 
    • 18th Street Pop-Up Shop, 1412 W. 18th St.
      • All locations open Thursday to Sunday from 2 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Austin Chamber of Commerce 
  • Chicago Loop Alliance 
  • East Edgewater Chamber of Commerce  
  • Far South Community Development Corporation  
  • Greater Chatham Initiative  
  • Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce 
    • Trolley Tour in Partnership with Southeast Chicago Chamber and South Shore Chamber of Commerce on November 26th   
    • Englewood Marketplace, 1255 W. 63rd St. 
  • Greater Southwest Development Corporation 
  • Lakeview Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce  
  • Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce  
  • Magnificent Mile Association  
  • North River Commission  
  • Northwest Side Community Development Corporation 
    • Crecer Business Incubator, 3150 N. Central Ave. 
    • Diversey Naturals and Organics, 5212 W. Diversey Ave. 
  • Puerto Rican Cultural Center  
    • Arturo Schomburg Afro Boricua Immersion (ASABI) Center, 2536 W. Division St. 
    • Pop-Up Space, 2538 W. Division St. 
    • Puerto Rico Town Performing Arts Hall, 3411 W. North Ave. 
    • Art activations on Division St. and North Ave. 
  • Rogers Park Business Alliance  
    • Launch of Live Love Shop Rogers Park rebate program on November 26th 
    • Opening Reception/ Open House December 3rd  
    • Howard Street Makers Studio, 1609 W. Howard St. 
    • Howard Street Makers Studio Art, 1531, 1609, & 1631 W. Howard St. 
  • South Shore Chamber of Commerce  
    • Trolley Tour in Partnership with Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce and Southeast Chicago Chamber of Commerce on November 26th
    • Connect South Shore Kids Activity Corner, 1900-1902 E. 71st St. 
    • Connect South Shore Art Gallery, 1904 E. 71st St. 
    • Connect South Shore Vendors Market, 1908-1910 E. 71st St. 
    • 71st Street Art Activations on 71 St between 1721 – 1908 E. 71st
  • Southeast Chicago Chamber of Commerce 
    • Trolley Tour in Partnership with Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce and South Shore Chamber of Commerce on November 26th 
    • Opening Reception/Open House on December 3rd  
    • Englewood Arts Collective, 1827 E. 79th
    • Art activations, 1652, 1756, & 1825 E. 79th St. 


“We are pleased to partner with the City's Small Business Storefront Activation Program to revitalize vacant storefronts in South Shore,” said Tonya Trice, Executive Director of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce. “We want to create an experience unique to our community and increase small business revenue and local shopping during the holiday season.  Our activations will include a Kid's Corner, an Art Gallery, and a Vendors Market.”


“The Small Business Storefront Activation Program will showcase Englewood based entrepreneurs who desire to open their own storefront or see their products on the shelves of local and national stores”, said Felicia Slaton-Young, Executive Director of the Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce. “This Program gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase their goods and services in space where they can connect directly with public. During the Holiday season, it is a great reason to promote shopping local and what better way to do that than to create space, in a vacant commercial building, and allow opportunity to flourish.”


The Small Business Storefront Activation Program is part of the Chicago Recovery Plan, the City’s plan to amplify once-in-a-generation federal funding to create an equity-based investment strategy to catalyze a sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chicago Recovery Plan invests holistically in communities and industries hardest hit by the pandemic to support equitable economic recovery across the city. 


To learn more about this Program and BACP’s Recovery Plan efforts, please visit