He had her at “Hello!” Well, almost.
It was a frigid, grey , Saturday following a fresh Chicago snowstorm. Downtown Edgebrook was still “asleep”. However, to 37 year old small business owner Chris Schultz, this was the perfect time to slip in to his State Farm office in downtown Edgebrook and catch up on some work. All was going according to plan. And then Chris noticed an elderly woman quietly struggling to shovel the sidewalk outside a small, local business not more than a few hundred yards from his own.
Chris called out, “Hello! I’m your neighbor. Do you need some help? Are you okay?” as he tramped through the snow towards her.
That was the first of what would be many conversations between these two neighbors. He learned that she was the business owner of the Edgebrook Radio TV Sales & Service Store, He learned she had been widowed suddenly in the not too distant past, and was doing her best to keep up with all sorts of new challenges in her newly-single life. Shoveling snow was just one new thing on a long list for her. The simple white sign inside the front door of her store was large and yet unobtrusive. The sign spoke volumes. It is still there as I write this, and it reads: “Edgebrook TV would like to thank all of it’s customers for your support! We regret to inform you the owner has passed away, and we have closed.”
Edgebrook Radio TV Sales & Service had been on that corner for over 55 years. The building was built in 1959. She owned it alone now. An era was quietly passing locally.
She learned that Chris is a high energy, second generation State Farm Agent and that to him being a “good neighbor” was far more than just a catchy tagline handed down by corporate. Although the paths of these two Edgebrook small business owners had never knowingly crossed before, their meeting on that snowy Saturday was serendipity. It became the starting point of very special new chapters in life for each of them. It all came down to trust and to a building a very genuine, human connection.
Are you among the many people who always found the building on the SW corner of Leoti & Central to be rather mysterious? Well Chris Schultz is now the new owner of that building and here’s the scoop: lots of “fantastical” changes are coming for that property. Chris has engaged a talented team of architects and designers who are currently working to turn Chris’ vision for the property into reality. By the end of the first quarter of 2016 Chris Schultz’s State Farm Office will fill 1600 sq ft of space at 6416 N. Central Avenue.
Never fear, because the two other small business tenants in the building – Ed’s Signs and Media Sound Chicago – will remain as tenants in the storefronts facing Leoti. You will learn more about these two local businesses in a future issue of this newsletter.
Chris just beamed as he described it all to me. For now I can tell you that the building will become a real show-stopper, looking wonderful by day and probably even better by night. Designs include updating and improving everything - from a new roof to new lighting, beautiful landscaping, employee parking and more.
Gone will be the vintage red neon sign which currently curves along the front of the building below the roofline. Gone will be those white, iron security bars inside the front door and windows. The new look will be inviting, will add value to the area, and will have the potential of giving all the local small businesses a boost by focusing fresh attention on the area. That kind of energy is infectious in a good way.
Since opening his original office on Devon in downtown Edgebrook in 2007, Chris has intentionally gotten to know most of his fellow local small business owners. Chris has become involved in, and supportive of, local community organizations. Chris intentionally keeps the majority of his day-to-day spending dollars local,where they can most help build the local business district. He does everything from eating lunch to getting his hair cut locally in Edgebrook.
Stay tuned! Great things are coming.