Chicago’s economy has been rebounding as of late, and many small businesses have contributed to this recovery. It has many notable small businesses, from household names to new startups making themselves known. Here are ten noteworthy businesses you can’t ignore.



Radio Flyer – Most people recognize this company’s little red wagons as a staple of childhood. Founded over 100 years ago, the company has weathered hard times, but its mix of new and classic toys has it flying high once again.

Artpentry – Chicago is known for its architectural heritage and its art scene. Local artist Floyd Davis showcases his carpentry creations at this gallery, which also hosts other local artists. The gallery also offers patrons the opportunity to buy these unique works of art.

Avant – Perhaps motivated by the recession, Avant offers an alternative option for personal finance. The company offers an alternative to traditional bank loans, making it easier to apply for and be approved for loans. The company also offers financial education to its clients to help them manage their money.

Opternative – This business allows users to get an eye exam from the comfort of home via a user-friendly eye exam. The site is great for those who want to renew their prescription for a new pair of glasses or emergency contact lenses, although it won’t give you a scan of your optic nerve. Some things still need to be done in person.

Pearachute – For parents who are always trying to find new ways to educate and entertain their children, Pearachute is the answer. For a monthly fee, parents can find new activities for their children, which are easy to incorporate into their schedules.

Retrofit – Losing weight is always easier with a team, but it’s not always easy to incorporate meetings into your schedule. Retrofit connects people with coaches to build personalized weight loss plans. It also has programs available for businesses to help improve the health of employees.

Urbanbound – Designed to reduce some of the stress associated with relocating, Urbanbound helps organizations manage the relocation process of employees. The software allows employees and their future employers to organize the moving process and adapt to their new city.

Do Rite Donuts – In many cities, donuts are experiencing a revolution, with many bakeries offering classic flavors alongside designer donuts. Do Rite Donuts is located in Lincoln Park and is known for its delicious donut flavors, including Pistachio Meyer Lemon and Candied Maple Bacon.

EL Ideas – This Chicago restaurant forces Chicagoans to get to know their neighbors, as it only has one table. It also has a small staff, allowing the chefs themselves to describe their creations to diners in ways that a menu can’t capture.

MentorMob – If you’ve ever wanted to learn a new skill, MentorMob can connect you with resources to do so. It bills its product as free learning. For anyone who’s ever used YouTube tutorials, this company takes the idea and expands on it, offering curated “playlists” to build a curriculum that teaches different subjects.


This article was written Alaina Brandenburger for CBS Small Business Pulse.