John Stallworth has been selling hardware and fixing bikes at his shop on Chicago’s South Side for 50 years, helping to anchor a neighborhood that’s struggled with population loss and divestment. John’s Hardware and Bicycle Shop is the kind of old-fashioned business that’s happy to sell customers two nails instead of a whole box. The store’s motto is “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” Today more than ever, the neighborhood needs John Stallworth and his business.
Jenny Yang held many different jobs in Taiwan and the U.S. before discovering her passion: running one of Chicago’s oldest tofu manufacturers. In this mini episode, Jenny talks about her long, winding journey to Phoenix Bean Tofu and how immigrating to the U.S. opened new possibilities for her.
In 1999, Jenny Yang discovered a small tofu company in her Chicago neighborhood that made the fresh soybean curd she remembered from her native Taiwan. Seven years later, when Jenny learned the business was in danger of closing, she impulsively stepped up to buy it. Jenny didn’t just guide Phoenix Bean Tofu through the transition, but opened new markets for her products and today is on the cusp of a major expansion.
Choosing and taking care of a knife can be an intimidating process for home cooks. In this mini episode, Northwestern Cutlery owner Marty Petlicki and a culinary school director offer some knife tips and dispel a common misconception about what a sharpening steel actually does. (Hint: It’s not for sharpening!)
In 1972, when two cousins opened Northwestern Cutlery, their knife rental and sharpening business, they chose a location in Chicago near the city’s meatpackers. Over the next decades, the dramatic transformation of the neighborhood around the business meant a nearly complete turnover in Northwestern Cutlery’s customer base—from industrial meatpackers to affluent gourmands.
We ride along with a two-man 1-800-GOT-JUNK truck team in Vancouver, British Columbia and learn about what they will and won’t take (no bed bugs or asbestos, please), what kind of personality is required for the job and some of their best finds.
Brian Scudamore was 19 when he set up his junk-hauling business with a used pick-up truck and a stack of business cards. But his ambitions were always greater than being a one-man junk operation. Brian Scudamore wanted his company to have a brand as polished as FedEx or Starbucks, and he wanted it to be big. Today, 1-800-GOT-JUNK is in three countries, and Brian is using what he learned about franchising to take other unglamorous home services and make them into big businesses.
In the ice sculpture world of the 70s and 80s, swans ruled the roost. Jim Nadeau carved a swan every Sunday for the brunch service of the hotel where he worked. He doesn’t make too many swans anymore, but the shape is still taught in culinary schools. In this mini episode, find out how swans became standard in ice sculptures and what rookie carvers can learn from making them.
In the 1970s, ice carving was the province of chefs at high-end hotels that made the sculptures part of their decor for Sunday brunch. Jim Nadeau came out of this tradition. Then, in 1980, he got the idea to start his own ice carving business in the Chicago area. Nadeau’s Ice Sculptures was among the first specialty carving shops to open and helped take the craft out of upscale hotel kitchens and into the mass market.
The Nedra Matteucci Galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico draws many visitors looking to admire or buy fine artwork. Then there are the treasure hunters, who come to the gallery looking for clues about a chest of valuables reportedly buried in the Rocky Mountains by the gallery’s previous owner, retired art dealer Forrest Fenn. The Nedra Matteucci Galleries’ rich history and unique architecture only add to the institution’s mystique, making it a magnet for fortune seekers.
Santa Fe, New Mexico is home to around 200 art galleries. Even in this thriving art scene, Nedra Matteucci’s gallery stands out. The 44-year-old gallery, which she bought in 1988, is housed in an adobe compound spanning two acres, and the business takes a grounded approach to fine art. If visiting the Nedra Matteucci Galleries feels like you’re stepping into someone’s home, it’s because Nedra, a New Mexico native who got her start selling paintings on the road, has made approachability part of the overall experience.
In the second half of the conversation between Paul McKenna of Starship restaurant and Anne Pezalla and Kate Pezalla Marlin of Lively Athletics, the business owners talk social media, the dark side of coupons and what’s next.