Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bustling Retail Corridor

A reader sends us the following photos and this account:
I have been a long time patron of the currency exchange at Montrose and Broadway. It's well-run and you can tell that they care about their business' appearance. I thought I would venture down Broadway to the currency exchange I've often seen highlighted on your blog at Broadway and Wilson. I was appalled. Within 1 minute of entering the door, I was panhandled by a woman who was just "hanging out" inside. While in the waiting line a man asked if I wanted to buy some "single cigarettes." The same woman who was asking for change on the way in was opening and closing the door for mothers with strollers and then asking for money for her good deed. All this, while the employees paid no attention. A security guard is needed here. Outside was another story and the other photo (above) was taken last week when I passed in my car. There were 8 to 10 people with 3 or 4 shopping carts blocking the public way. I noted the broken fence I had seen mentioned here a while back. The peddler wheels in their luggage full of goods and puts it next to the currency exchange through the broken fence (below). I also spotted the bike padlocks they use to chain up their milk crates after their "workday," all in front of this establishment. I noted a number on the wall inside the currency exchange for comments and complaints. I hope your readers will contact the currency federation this business belongs to at 866-248-4947. The address of this location is 4559 N. Broadway. I assume they are responsible for the rampant peddling outside their store, if not they know who to contact.


  1. I think you should go accross the street and complain to the alderman about this.

  2. I went to the following web site and made a complaint. The address shows up on the site as 4559 N Broadway. The operator is: WILSON BROADWAY C.E., INC. You may also wish to contact this corporation directly.

  3. Here is the corporate officer information (from the IL Secretary of State site):

    425 HUEHL RD BLDG 3
    NORTHBROOK, IL 60062

    President Name & Address: IRA FISHMAN, 550 FRONTAGE NORTHFIELD 60093

    ***If we can get enough people to contact them, perhaps they will take some action.

  4. Thanks for the contact info, shillsgangs.

    I just sent them a note, asking them to read the blog post and work with the operator to clean up their property for the good of their customers and neighbors.

    Hopefully other readers will jump on this one too.

  5. There is no excuse for this other than complacency and neglect on the currency exchange operator and building owners' parts!

  6. I think Mr. Fishman owns that entire strip mall. Nice that his offices are in the northern suburbs. Far away from the blight.

  7. I have a friend in Atlanta who used to earn 80K per year in catering sales now working for $10.00/hour as a baker at Walmart. In case you haven't heard, your "bustling retail corridor" is breaking down all over the country.

    If you can't handle peddlers, and scrap metal dealers, and people doing what they can do to make an honest living, move to the freakin' suburbs.

  8. I will call numerous times about the mess that hangs in front and around this business. I see it when I drive by. There is no reason they cannot do something to make it safe and healthy for customers. Maybe they like to lose business as with those low-lifes they for sure will. Shiller looks out along with her staff and do nothing. I have called her office and they said to me they have rights to hang aorund there too. If they where around her office or better yet her condo I bet they be gone......

  9. Gee, Kenny, where do you see people making an honest living? I see people loitering on a street corner, drinking, among garbage bags and empty shopping carts, after breaking down the fence to store their belongings and milk crate chairs.

    I don't accept YOUR low standards in MY community. I think you're doing a nice job of channeling Denice Davis, telling people to move if they don't like it here. She'll be gone soon; maybe you too?

  10. uh, Kenny. This was going on at this corner when the economy was booming. If you want to be an advocate for them, you should want them to get steady employment of some kind working for someone. You know and I know this isn't helping them out. Make your point, but don't play us for fools.

  11. Kenny:
    -selling individual cigarettes IS AGAINST THE LAW
    -aggressive panhandling IS AGAINST THE LAW
    - street vending without a license IS AGAINST THE LAW

    I have problems with this on many fronts. The laws were not passed to prevent people from making an "honest living". Rather they were made to protect the public. Moreover, this breeds a culture where lawbreaking is deemed acceptable.

    And I am sorry, but I really can't see how being a baker at Walmart is equivalent to begging for money. Please explain...I will do my best to listen to your reasoning with an open mind. (That doesn't mean, however, that I will have to accept your logic.)

  12. If these things are against the law- and I do think they are, why are they the property owners responsibility or even the aldermans? This seems like a police issue.

    What do the police say about this at the meetings you guys attend?

    As for safety, I buy CTA cards there almost daily and have never encountered any danger or threat of danger. That is just an exaggeration, and it doesn't really help your argument to stretch the truth that way.

  13. Otto,
    The police are aware of this and they do make arrests on occasions, but there remain other priorities. The chamber voiced their complaints last summer at the public safety meeting about how this horribly affects retail all along Broadway. That's why Helen and the chamber need to be a bit more proactive than they are to address this. All the surrounding wards have an alderman who are proactive with addressing these kinds of problems. They also send staff to their local CAPS meetings.

    However, even if these people were doing nothing illegal, it's not good for them to hang out there all day doing something that is an absolute certainty will keep them stuck in their cycle of poverty. The problem is that there are people who have grown accepting of low standards and give every excuse in the book why it should be tolerated. That's called enabling.

  14. Since the owners -living in their quiet burb- see nothing wrong with this, let's get our milk crates, bundles of socks and set up shop in front of their homes. Surely one of their neighbors could use a cigarette or a bootleg CD!

  15. Ms. Bonnie Schoenberg is an partner in Americash LLC, a payday loan operation. Her other partners are Frank Tufano, Anthony Fornelli, Richard Barr and Dustin Mauldin.

    The listed owners may actually be receptive to consumer complaints. You never know how much business they lose with this activity both inside and outside their properties.

    Mr. Fishman doesn't list a suite in the building, but a good guess is that he works in the same suite as the Americash partners. That's 550 W Frontage Rd, Suite 3785, Northfield, IL 60093.

    The Wilson Broadway Currency Exchange does provide legit services, but I wonder if I could walk in there and find information directing me north to the Americash location at 5310 Broadway.

    These are legal loansharks. It's a desperate affair if you need a loan from these people. Short term borrowing from these operations is pretty risky unless you are absolutely certain you can meet the payment terms.

  16. otto, many of Uptown's quality of life issues derive from a small number of people's failure to be good neighbors.

    If the owner/operator of the business can't control what happens on their property, they should work with police, rather than washing their hands of it. Same thing applies to all homeowners, renters, businesses, and social services in this neighborhood. Being a good neighbor means taking responsibility.

  17. The major issue with this and other activity (people using the CTA benches as their social gathering place) on this corner is that it allows the serious criminal activity to fester undercover. A friend of mine was sitting at the stoplight on the corner of Wilson and Broadway and saw a drug deal in broad daylight. Drug dealers hide behind all the other people “hanging out” because it’s great cover. On Icam this corner has one of the highest crime rates on the north side. One must ask what are the environmental issues that contribute to this.

  18. We need a police camera on this corner.

  19. Funny. This place is bad because it looks bad even though they provide a decent, respected service. Gigio's, on the other hand, is good because you like their food. I'm sensing a serious double standard here. You all sure don't hold everyone to the same light, do you?

  20. Chuck, with respect, that's a load of bullsh*t and I suspect you know it. The two street scenes aren't even close, and you don't have like three different illegal street vendors selling single cigarettes and whatever else in front of Gigio's.

  21. The major issue with this and other activity (people using the CTA benches as their social gathering place) on this corner is that it allows the serious criminal activity to fester undercover.

    Agreed. Personally I'm not too concered if there was one or two people selling a few items on the sidewalk. It's a busy intersection, not the courtyard of some privately owned apartment complex. But, yeah, the people selling stuff are a lot of times joined by their friends who like to have a drink now and then...and now again, and now again... Then those people, attract other people who want to share their drink with them. Then other people show up to share other things...snorted, injected, smoked, whatever. Then other people show up to supply them with those things to smoke or snort. Then it's pretty much a free-for-all. It's like the guys who used to sleep in the alley behind my apartment building. When it was one guy, i had no problem. I might have even given him a couple of coins at one time or another. Then two other homeless guys show up and set up show in the back of another building in the alley. OK. Then a few more. Then there were people hanging out there drinking who weren't even homeless as far a I could tell, just looking for a place to hang out and drink. Now, the people in my building use the alley a lot to use the back door to get in and out of the building, because it's easier than walking all the way around to the front. And i figured it was just a matter of time before it went from "harmless" drinking to someone getting robbed or worse. So I wrote a couple of emails to the alderman (I'm in Smith's ward) and they pretty much took care of it. I've seen a couple of guys come back this season (apparently the alley is their summer residence) but nothing like it was before.

    Bottom line: It's fine to me if they want to earn an "honest" living selling stuff on the street (where they get it from, I have no idea). But when it starts to spiral out of control...

  22. This place is bad because it looks bad even though they provide a decent, respected service.

    No one said the place is bad. The place isn't "bad", it's the situation outside that's bad. Big difference.

  23. "So I wrote a couple of emails to the alderman (I'm in Smith's ward) and they pretty much took care of it. I've seen a couple of guys come back this season (apparently the alley is their summer residence) but nothing like it was before." MOTS

    I wonder if Mary Ann Smith could teach Helen Shiller how to do that?

  24. "I wonder if Mary Ann Smith could teach Helen Shiller how to do that?"

    I don't think they speak the same language.

  25. What's (once again) difficult to believe, is that this rather 3rd world crime/mode of operation, thrives, a mere stones throw from the 46th Ward office.

    Why....for far too long, must this area be like a post-Saddaam Baghdad?

    How many people up here, can comfortably invite friends or relatives to stop by, without a virtual 'safety manual'