CHICAGO (CBS) — A story of a mother and daughter and their real struggle: trying to keep their business afloat during the pandemic and after the looting downtown.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports just this week, they got even more unfortunate news.
A delectable scent at an ice cream shop launched a business dream.
Jackie Jackson’s memories of getting ice cream with her late mother.
“Just the smell of it, everything about it. My mother’s spirit just came over me,” Jackson said. “I knew then this is what I want to do. And the spirit of my mother would live on.”
So inspired, Jackie opened the first Kilwins Ice Cream and Fudge shops in the Chicago area. First in Orland Park, then in Hyde Park. It was a sacrifice.
“I borrowed money from family members. We mortgaged our home. We did everything we could to be there,” Jackson said.
The business took a big leap three years ago when Jackie set up downtown at 310 South Michigan among the throngs of tourists.
“We wanted the top destination spots in Chicago,” Jackson said. Her daughter Janel, who started scooping ice cream at 14, became Jackie’s business partner when she graduated from Western Michigan University.
“My mom was has always taught me to work hard for what you want. So yes, I am her only child, but I’m not a spoiled only child,” Janel said. The mother-daughter team was doing well.
“We were the projected to have an amazing year before the pandemic happened,” said Janel.
And just as the city was preparing to reopen, Janel was alerted someone had broken into the Michigan Avenue store. It was the weekend of May 30th.
Jackie and Janel rushed over. Looters were still in the shop.
“We were pretty much pleading with us, you know, ‘spare us. We are two women in here.’ Never did we realize we would be sitting there the entire night, no sleep, protecting the store,” said Janel.
Jackie and Janel were not hurt, but they had thousands of dollars in damage. They were spared during the looting 10 days ago, but businesses all around them were hit and that means little foot traffic. Still, Jackie and Janel Jackson are pushing on, hoping customers will find them.
“We definitely need business. We have beautiful gift baskets. There’s so many ways people can help us,” Jackie Jackson said. Her daughter added “Chicago is amazing. And I am always so prideful and so happy to say I’m from Chicago. I love this place and I hate what’s going on right now.”
Between the pandemic and looting, Jackie and Janel said they’ve made no money. In fact, they’ve lost money. Now their downtown landlord is pressuring them for more than $60,000 in back rent.
Adding to their woes, they were about to open a shop at Navy Pier but Navy Pier is temporarily shutting down after Labor Day.
CBS 2 spoke with Siri Hibbler of the Cook County Black Chamber of Commerce. She said she’s working with the Jacksons to find grants for businesses like theirs.