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CHICAGO (CBS) — On the heels of Black Friday comes Small Business Saturday, a day when shoppers are asked to shop local and support local. Small businesses were some of the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic — resulting in the closure of roughly 200,000 of them nationwide during the first year of the pandemic alone.

This year the Ravenswood industrial corridor brought back a beloved tradition to bring back people.

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There are more than 100 local shops in Ravenswood that are just starting to welcome back their in-person experiences over the last few months. Many of them are now saying last year was make or break, but now that they’ve made it, they still need help.

After a pandemic pause, the Ravenswood Holly Jolly Trolley was back for the first time since 2019 for Small Business Saturday. The free trolley made stops during peak shopping hours on Damen, Montrose, Wilson, Irving Park, and Ravenswood Avenues.

“We’ve been gearing up for this for most of the year,” said Gene Wagendorf, associate director of the Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.

For the last year and a half, small shops had to change their way of business and the way they define success.

“Success absolutely means survival at this point,” Wagendorf said. “If I’ve run a tavern, how do I turn into a bottled cocktail operation to get through the pandemic, or if I’ve never had an online shop, how do I suddenly teach myself with less access to staff?”

“We also thought, ‘How can we help?’ So we switched to hand sanitizer production,” said Robert Birnecker Koval Distillery co-owner, which specializes in bourbon and gin.

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Birnecker said the pandemic protocols that started March of 2019 completely slashed sales. He said in the beginning they were worried they would not make it.

“We had to completely shut down our operation,” he said.

Koval made the pivot to hand sanitizer using a recipe signed off by the World Health Organization and materials taht were otherwise sitting around unused. Not only did they donate 5,000 gallons, which went in part to first responders, medical staff, retirement homes and homeless shelters, but tapping into their alcohol supply to make sanitizer also made ends meet.

“Yes we’re still here. For small business that is the most important part, but I think our success has always been defined by helping the community,” Birnecker said.

As the city drives toward slow economic recovery, more than 100 local shops in Ravenswood and beyond (including Bronzeville, Lincoln Square and Albany Park) are hoping Chicagoans keep bringing business to the little guys.

“Aside from shopping small feeling good, it really does help contribute to the character of our neighborhoods,” said Wagendorf.

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Small Business Saturday might be wrapping up, but don’t forget Cyber Monday is around the corner.

News Source: cbslocal.com

Tags: chicago news investigative marissa parra ravenswood small business saturday chicago news investigative small business saturday for small business for small business to hand sanitizer the pandemic

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Nashville Hustler Club patrons brawled, fired gun toward staff -- then fled, authorities say

Police in Nashville were still searching for suspects this week after a fight broke out earlier this month at a strip club and a gunshot was fired in the direction of staff members, according to authorities.

The incident happened at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club, police said. 

Cash on the floor of a Hustler Club in Nashville.  (Nashville Police)

The group of people involved in the altercation had been inside a private room at the club when two women got into a confrontation that spilled into the hallway, Nashville police said. 

One of the men in the group – seen in surveillance footage with a bald head and wearing a leather jacket – pulled a gun from his pants and fired a single shot into the floor in the direction of the club’s staff, according to police. No one was hurt, they said. 

TENNESSEE SHERIFF'S DEPUTY DISCOVERED SHOT, DEAD IN BURNING HOME

Surveillance footage provided by Nashville police shows a group of five people in a hallway with cash strewn about the floor. A man in the background can be seen banging on a door. Two others can be seen off to the side on the floor. 

Hustler Club in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Google Maps)

Police said the group left the club in multiple vehicles – one of which was a "branded tow truck." They were each now wanted for questioning.

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The 22,000-square-foot club opened in October 2020, according to the Nashville Post. 

Larry Flynt was the longtime publisher of Hustler, a pornographic magazine. He died last February at age 78.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts or identities of these individuals is being asked to call Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463. 

Bradford Betz is a reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to bradford.betz@fox.com  and on Twitter: @Bradford_Betz.  

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