The Green Machines thread got me to wondering why Chicago doesn't seem to embrace "mixed" businesses like they seem to in other cities.

But maybe my perception is just skewed there by lack of awareness?

What local businesses are you aware of that combine different types of services under one roof?

I'll start with some examples I can think of:

-Bar and model train store, 18th and Damen

-Tire shop, corner store, ice cream shop, video arcade, and used bike shop, corner of 18th and Leavitt.

-Bike shop and cafe....Heritage Cycles?" (never been in there-- is that a fair description?)

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There are many such businesses in rural communities as well as among immigrant communities in Chicago. The ethnic insurance agency + currency exchange + package shipping service + travel agency + real estate office + tax service all in one 300 sq foot space is quite common in Chicago. They are generally the result of either business incompetence (not meant pejoratively) or an attempt to combine two or more underperforming businesses into one sustainable business. I would imagine the bike shops you mentioned fall into the latter category.

The biggest reason not to do this is because diluted efforts lead to mediocre services which are much less valuable to consumers than expert services. This will hurt the company's brand in the minds of consumers. All else equal, the typical homeowner will prefer Joe's Painting over Tim's Construction to paint his condo. Diluting a business takes away from management's ability to focus and to maintain the knowledge of an industry to compete with other dedicated teams while keeping employees from mastering the skills needed to provide the levels of work done by those who are dedicated to a single profession. In addition to this lack in human capital, multiple businesses require more investment to maintain supply which by it's nature results in a lower return to owners or delays for customers. Each business is different but these general ideas usually apply.

All that being said, there are exceptions. The coffee shop with bike repair isn't much different than the gas station with a car wash. These businesses complement each other well enough that they sometimes can result in better margins than if they are separate. But even then, a consumer will look to the expert cycling shop to tune her new speed bike or to a dedicated car wash to detail every inch of her new sports car.

Fair description of Heritage Cycles.  The coffee shop is in the front.  There are bikes in the front, too.  The building/repair area is behind the coffee shop and open.  They also have a small area at the back of the store of bike related "stuff" for sale.  I think Heritage works because--as Tom says--the businesses complement each other and neither part overwhelms the other.  They are also pretty specialty since they only sell their builds.  And they try to be a neighborhood place.  That seems to work, too, based on the couple of times I have been there.

But question, h', what types of combinations are you talking about in other cities?  I have never lived in any other city, or spent enough time in any place other than southeast Florida to be familiar with a lot of businesses, so I am not sure exactly what you mean.

Bar/model train store? I have got to check this out! Wasn't there a gardening and brewing supply store in the city at one point too? Or am I imagining that one?

Kopi Cafe in Andersonville: Cafe restaurant/ travel book store/ jewelry boutique.

Book cellar in Lincoln Square: books and coffee shop (and alcoholic beverages?)

Duds N Suds has got to be my favorite, basically a laundromat with a liquor license. Brilliant! I'm surprised there aren't more of them around.

 

Actually there aren't any. They've been out of business for almost two decades.

It's too bad my time in Ames was much more recent. Laundry would have been much more fun.



Joe Guzzardo said:

Duds N Suds has got to be my favorite, basically a laundromat with a liquor license. Brilliant! I'm surprised there aren't more of them around.

 

I used to work for a bike shop in Cudahy that serviced vacuum cleaners and other small appliances.

It seems that it is pretty easy to put a cafe/espresso bar/coffee shop with anything these days.  The "Mr. Drucker" model seems unlikely to survive outside of towns in the "Green Acres" mode.

h' 1.0 said:

Going back to the 90s, Seattle for example had a combination espresso bar and just about everything.

There's the classic "Mr. Drucker" type store where the clerk puts on a grocer hat, and then a postal service hat, and then a monacle to do watch repair, and then pulls out the notary public stamp, etc.

Lisa Curcio 4.1 mi said:

But question, h', what types of combinations are you talking about in other cities?  I have never lived in any other city, or spent enough time in any place other than southeast Florida to be familiar with a lot of businesses, so I am not sure exactly what you mean.

+1

Lisa Curcio 4.1 mi said:

Fair description of Heritage Cycles.  The coffee shop is in the front.  There are bikes in the front, too.  The building/repair area is behind the coffee shop and open.  They also have a small area at the back of the store of bike related "stuff" for sale.  I think Heritage works because--as Tom says--the businesses complement each other and neither part overwhelms the other.  They are also pretty specialty since they only sell their builds.  And they try to be a neighborhood place.  That seems to work, too, based on the couple of times I have been there.

This combination book store/bar/entertainment venue isn't local, but I wish it was. Cool idea.

Oasis Cafe in the back of the jewelry store downtown seems close enough. Falafel is pretty good, too.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/oasis-cafe-chicago

Excellent falafel at Oasis for sure, but I'm not sure this qualifies as a combination business any more than pretty much every big box store that offers fast food (Target, Ikea etc). I could be completely wrong, but I don't think the jewelry store people run the falafel stand? 

h' 1.0 said:

Oh yeah, good one!

Ben Gray said:

Oasis Cafe in the back of the jewelry store downtown seems close enough. Falafel is pretty good, too.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/oasis-cafe-chicago

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