Chicago violence affecting business on South Side

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Gang violence on the South Side of Chicago is doing more than putting people in danger, it's also hurting business for hundreds of mom and pop stores.

But now, some of those business owners are fighting back.

Even though some of the shootings happened miles away, business owners in Chatham say they're feeling the aftereffects. People are afraid to take to the streets, and afraid to shop in their own neighborhoods.

Ken Blow has been cutting hair for two decades at the Bullseye Barber shop on west 79th Street. He has a long list of steady customers, but lately business has been bad.

“We normally have more people who walk in that are out and about looking for a haircut. They like to come by and move around without feeling threatened."

A raging gang war and spate of high profile shootings - including the cold-blooded murder of 9-year old Tyshawn Lee - has created what business owners describe as “a climate of fear in many South Side neighborhoods.

Contessa Houston opened a clothing boutique on west 79th last spring.

"The street traffic has stopped. People are afraid to walk down 79th street because of the retaliations that are going on,” Houston told FOX 32 News.

“It's bad for business. You're pushing more so online and trying to find new avenues for your business to basically grow."

Friday, a group of Chatham business owners and community leaders gathered to call attention to their plight. They say they're frustrated because the high profile crimes happened far away from their once-thriving business strip, yet they're still paying the price.

Sixth Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer said, “the precipice for this press conference was some internet rants about violence going all the way from Damen to Cottage Grove. So we had to stand here in our neighborhood and say no, it's not happening here. This is a safe venue."

The business falloff at an area McDonalds has prompted the franchise owner to beef up security.

“We are gonna look back at that, adding security inside the McDonalds like we've done before. We normally do about 12 hours a day. Now I’ll have to reevaluate that," McDonald’s owner Derek Taylor said.

Already there are too many empty stores on the South Side and metal security gates that have been padlocked for years.

Contessa Houston says if it doesn't get better soon, she'll consider moving her business as well.

“You're following your dreams, but at the same time you still have to be conscious of your life."

The business owners say they believe many of their regular customers are going to other neighborhoods and the suburbs to do their shopping. They say if that doesn't change local jobs will disappear, which will then only strengthen the street gangs.

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