The holidays are finally here! And for Julie Horowitz at Virtu Chicago, it truly is “the most wonderful time of the year.” Thanks to customer and vendor relationships that she cultivates year-round, Julie knows exactly what to keep in stock to make holiday shopping easy for her clients in the Chicago area as well as her online followers.
Julie opened Virtu in 2001, initially as an installation craft gallery. Starting a small business at any time is never an easy feat, but getting a business off the ground in the midst of one of the most devastating terrorist attacks to date proved to be almost impossible. Rather than clinging to her original vision for the store, Julie stepped outside of the box and has altered the Virtu business plan every six months or so. Today, Virtu is one of Chicago’s favorite gift stores, featuring work from our nation’s leading craft artists.
Not many big box store owners can say that they know each one of their vendors personally. Julie, on the other hand, knows every one of her vendors as well as their work. Most of these items are hand-crafted, which these artists take very personally. Julie is as passionate about selling their crafts as they are about creating them.
Julie also maintains personal relationships with her customers. Other than herself, Julie only has one employee. She is in the store seven days a week, so over the past decade, she has really gotten to know who her customers are. She knows what they like, which works to their advantage. In preparation for the holidays, Julie makes sure Virtu is stocked with the gifts her clients want. Virtu makes holiday shopping so easy that all you have to do is put your gifts under the tree. Once Julie helps you find the perfect presents, she will be happy to wrap them.
If every family in the Chicago area spent just $100 of their holiday budget at locally-owned, independent businesses like Virtu, over $231,180,144* would be directly returned to the Chicago community. That means better schools, better roads, more support for police, fire and rescue departments and stronger local economies.
See what kind of impact you could have on your community this holiday season by buying local – www.independentwestand.org/shop-local-holiday. And don’t forget to visit www.virtuchicago.com to find the perfect gifts for your friends and family.
* Based on Civic Economics Andersonville Study of Retail Economics: When you spend $100 at an independent business, $68 returns to the local economy versus $43 when spent with a national chain. Based on U.S. Census projection of 115 million households.