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  • Mount Prospect settles lawsuit with Ye Olde Town Inn owner Jul 7, 2014 5:15 PM
    The village of Mount Prospect has reached a settlement with the owner Ye Old Town Inn, who accused officials and a local development company of conspiring to seize his land and move forward with a redevelopment plan downtown without him. “I plan to be there making pizzas for the next 40 years,” he said.

  • Blu Rain Massage fills need for active Antioch residents Jul 7, 2014 5:00 AM
    An interview with Sheila Loos, owner of Blu Rain Massage in Antioch.

  • New rules affect job application process, pregnant employees Jul 7, 2014 8:07 AM
    Jim Kendall' focuses on two pieces of legislation that will change the way small businesses deal with job applicants and pregnant employees.

  • Religion fuels Libertyville financial expert to help, advise Jul 7, 2014 5:04 AM
    Kukec's People features Roch Tranel, founder and president of The Tranel Financial Group in Libertyville, who follows his christian values in business as well as in the community, where he enjoys cultivating leaders.

  • Find the forefathers at Algonquin Commons Jul 1, 2014 1:01 AM
    Just in time for the celebration of our nation’s birthday, Algonquin Commons along the Randall Road corridor is hosting a Find the Forefathers contest. Throughout this month, if you spot one of the nation’s Founding Fathers inside one of the outdoor mall’s stores, you could win a gift certificate.

  • Young Naperville entprereneur honored Jun 30, 2014 5:00 AM
    Kukec's People features Zakery Kates, owner of Naperville-based Simple Edge web marketing firm, who serves on a number of boards and volunteers at countless events, especially for Kids Matter and the Naperville Jaycees. He’s also a member of the Naperville Chamber of Commerce and was recently recognized by the chamber’s Small Business of the Year Awards in the category of Young Entrepreneur. He’s only 25.

  • Mathnasium offers math help in Palatine Jun 30, 2014 5:02 AM
    Mathnasium Learning Centers, a math-only learning center franchise, specializes in teaching kids math in a way that makes sense to them. We talk with the new Palatine owners.

  • Minimum wage issue pits franchisees against cities Jun 29, 2014 6:27 AM
    Hundreds of franchisees are learning they’re not small businesses, at least in the eyes of city government. In Chicago, lawmakers have proposed a measure that would exempt small businesses but not franchise restaurants from paying higher minimum wages. Franchise owners say the laws will sharply increase their payroll costs, and threaten to make them less competitive with independent businesses that won’t have to comply — and that they could be forced to raise prices and cut jobs.

  • Despite Food Network win, food court taco stand struggles Jun 29, 2014 12:22 PM
    Taco in a Bag may have had the good fortune to appear on a national reality TV show, but for the two men who run the West Dundee eatery, reality hit once the afterglow wore off and profits went south. “We're definitely committed to being here and trying to make this work," said Tim "Gravy" Brown, one of the partners, citing efforts to market the place to a bigger clientele.

  • Washington starting pot sales with severe shortage Jun 28, 2014 6:36 PM
    The state’s Liquor Control Board has been warning of shortages when the first stores open. The board plans to issue the first 15 to 20 retail licenses July 7, with shops allowed to open the next day if they’re ready. It’s not clear how many that will be. Board staff said at a meeting last week that only one store in Seattle is ready for its final inspection.

  • Joe Caputo & Sons opens new store in Arlington Heights Jun 27, 2014 1:27 PM
    Joe Caputo & Sons Fruit Market IGA opened its fifth Northwest suburban store Friday morning in the former Dominick’s at 325 Palatine Road. The opening was celebrated with a ribbon tying ceremony with local business officials and Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes.

  • Suburban baker opens Sweet T’s cake shop in Arlington Hts. Jun 25, 2014 6:08 PM
    To Tammy Montesinos, baking a cake is more than just mixing together flour, eggs and sugar. “A cake is a memory you’re building for people,” said Montesinos, who is bringing those memories, and herrecipes, to her new shop, Sweet T’s Bakery & Cake Studio in downtown Arlington Heights.

  • Prospect Heights grocery store has closed Jun 24, 2014 7:26 AM
    The Save-A-Lot Food Store in Prospect Heights, open just one year, closed last week, Mayor Nick Helmer announced Monday. Helmer said after the city council meeting that another person hopes to open a grocery appealing to the area's Hispanic residents in the building at 610 N. Milwaukee Ave. in the Palwaukee Center. “That area really needs a grocery store,” he said.

  • Gurnee: Video gambling won't save American Legion Post 771 Jun 24, 2014 5:15 AM
    While Gurnee trustees and Mayor Kristina Kovarik agreed Monday they weren't interested in allowing video gambling to boost the local American Legion's finances, she pledged to help find other ways for the organization to raise money. “I certainly want to find a way to help the American Legion,” Kovarik said. “No 'ifs' 'ands' or 'buts' about it.”

  • Des Plaines Theatre owner to review 2 takeover pitches Jun 24, 2014 5:05 AM
    The owner of the shuttered Des Plaines Theatre will meet with city officials to review two proposals from those who may be interested in purchasing or managing the historic venue. The facility has been closed since Jan. 15 after its owner failed to meet a city deadline to fix building code issues. “We would've liked to have gotten more (proposals), but we have two, and hopefully one of those is something he wants to do and the city can live with it," the city's George Sakas said.

  • Fusion of talents, food focus of couple's new BBQ restaurant Jun 23, 2014 5:00 AM
    Kukec's People features Alice Banach of North Barrington, a rock-and-roll fan, who turned her enjoyment of that era and love of cooking into a new restaurant called Rock 'N Ribs in at the Village Square Shopping Center in Lake Zurich. She and her husband, Terry Banach, opened in May and then held a grand opening last week.

  • Oakton Street Antique Centre growing in Arlington Heights Jun 23, 2014 5:00 AM
    Bonnie Throne, owner of Oakton Street Antique Centre in Arlington Heights, has made it past the 20-year mark. We talk to her about the business.

  • Instagram tips for small businesses Jun 22, 2014 6:11 AM
    Here’s five tips for entrepreneurs looking to use Instagram for their small business.

  • Small businesses finding sales through Instagram Jun 22, 2014 6:11 AM
    A picture is worth thousands of dollars for Limelight Extensions. Phones start ringing at the Farmington Hills, Michigan, salon each time co-owner Miranda Jade Plater posts pictures on photo-sharing app Instagram. Would-be customers call to book appointments or ask questions about hair extensions she posts. Colorful styles get the most attention. Plater still gets calls about a photo of herself that she uploaded two months ago. In it, she’s wearing long, black curly hair extensions with the ends dyed bright orange. That photo alone has generated about $10,000 in sales. “Without Instagram I couldn’t tell you where we would be right now,” she says. Instagram is an increasingly important part of small businesses’ social media strategies. It’s helping them drive sales, gain customers and develop their brand. The app is especially helpful to restaurants, bakeries, clothing stores, hair salons and other businesses that sell items that photograph well. The app, which was founded in 2010 and was bought by social media company Facebook Inc. in 2012, reaches more than 200 million users worldwide. Owners say it’s easy to use and like that they can automatically post their Instagram photos on their businesses’ other social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter. Paying for attention To boost Limelight Extensions’ followers, Plater pays local models and reality show stars to promote the company on their accounts. Payment is either a percentage of sales, a flat rate or free hair. In return, they post photos of themselves wearing the extensions with a link back to Limelight Extensions’ Instagram account. The company has more than 27,000 followers. Yumbox is trying a similar strategy. The Doylestown, Pennsylvania-based company makes colorful lunchboxes with portioned sections meant to teach kids balanced eating. It recently paid a well-followed health food blogger to post a photo of a food-filled Yumbox. The post spiked traffic to its website and doubled its Instagram followers to nearly 5,000. Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter allow small businesses to pay to promote their posts and gain followers. Instagram, which declined to comment for this story, doesn’t do that yet. On its website, it says it is working on offering advertising to more of its users. Reaching out to customers There are cheaper ways to build followers. Yumbox reposts customer photos. Devitt and co-owner Maia Neumann scour Instagram for photos others have posted using Yumbox as a hashtag. (A hashtag is a word or sentence that begins with the pound sign ((hash)), such as (hash) yumbox. Using a hashtag, which is clickable, makes it easier for users to find all the pictures about one topic.) Devitt says reposting encourages more people to share photos of their own Yumbox, getting the boxes in front of even more eyes. Women’s clothing shop and online store UOI Boutique broadcasts its customers’ Instagram photos on its website. When someone uploads a picture of a skirt or top or necklace on Instagram with the hashtag (hash) uoionline, it automatically shows up on The Sterling, Illinois, company also asks its 25 workers to take at least one photo with their smartphone during their shifts. The best are uploaded to UOI Boutique’s Instagram account. Hashtag everything The right hashtag can attract customers from far away. Brooke Sacco, the owner of Behind The Moon, a shop that sells used and new kids clothing in Hammonton, New Jersey uploaded a photo of a pair of outfits with the hashtag of the clothing’s brand name. A potential customer in Dallas was searching for that brand on Instagram and asked Sacco to send the $7 dress and romper to Texas. It was the first time Sacco had shipped clothing to customers since she opened the store in April. She tries to post six photos a day, complete with hashtags. “It’s free advertising,” Sacco says. Building a brand But it’s not just about posting pictures of products. Dyer and Jenkins, an online seller of men’s clothing, reinforces that its jeans and T-shirts are made in America through Instagram. Owner Josey Orr posts three photos a day to the Los Angeles company’s Instagram account and has a rule: 20 percent of the photos are of Dyer and Jenkins clothing and 80 percent are photos of weathered American flags, classic cars or West Coast highways. The account has more nearly 11,000 followers. (As a comparison, big clothing brands such as J. Crew has more than 500,000 followers and Urban Outfitters has nearly 1.5 million.) “It’s more about the brand and less about selling products,” says Orr. That’s also true for Hawaiian hot sauce maker Adoboloco. “We use Instagram to show what we’re doing in our lives and outside of the business,” says owner Tim Parsons. He posts photos from the Hawaiian farm where some of the chili peppers used in the sauces are grown. There are also lots of pictures of Maui’s sandy beaches and french fries, eggs and other meals drenched with Adoboloco’s hot sauce. Why does Instagram resonate with potential customers? A photo can say more about a business than words. “People process photos faster,” says Jesse Redniss, chief strategy officer at Spredfast, which works with brands to build their social media presence. “Storytelling is paramount for a business to get people to care about who they are,” says Redniss. “People are always entranced with a story. It’s how people become interested in a brand.” Photographic markdown Another way to spur sales is to offer discounts. A week before Mother’s Day, Las Vegas bakery Peridot Sweets sent a photo of a white Mother’s Day cake with a sugary peony flower on top to its nearly 1,800 Instagram followers. The caption offered the cake for $40 — a $30 discount. Owner Tiffany Jones says she sold seven of the cakes to people who saw the photo on Instagram. The photo also automatically posted to the company’s Facebook page. She sold six more cakes to Facebook fans. “It’s visual,” says Jones about Instagram. “It’s perfect for what we do.” Online: Adoboloco’s Instagram account: Behind The Moon: Dyer And Jenkins: Limelight Extensions: Peridot Sweets: UOI Boutique: Yumbox:

  • Ditka’s opening in Arlington Hts. on Tuesday Jun 21, 2014 8:00 AM
    Da Coach is bringing his restaurant to Arlington Heights starting next week. The Arlington Heights location of Ditka’s Restaurant will open on Tuesday and will be the third, and largest, of the former Bears coach’s Chicagoland restaurants, said Paul Woodard, managing partner.

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