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Local Businesses React To Occupy Chicago’s Impact

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 17:  Workers watch from...

After nearly 50 days of protesting, it’s tough to say what kind of impact the Occupy Chicago movement has had—at least on businesses along demonstration routes, that is.

“We’ve seen just a few more customers that are from the Occupy movement, but not a huge rush,” said Cassie Griffith, an employee at an Argo Tea located along the route of one of the group’s recent marches.

Griffith also said when the protesters do come in to the shop, many of them will ask for free food and drinks.

Micah Philbrook, a member of Occupy Chicago’s press relations group said this is likely due to many of the protesters being homeless. He said asking for free food is how the homeless have learned to survive on the streets.

“These people are in survival mode because of their life situations, ” Philbrook said.

Philbrook also said the Occupy movement does not encourage its members to ask for free food, but instead tries to provide for them through donations.

“We don’t want to upset the area businesses,” he said. “We’re all in this together.”

However, the Ann Taylor clothing store located at the intersection of Jackson Boulevard and La Salle Street—the Occupy movement’s headquarters–has heard negative comments from its customers about the protests.

“It scares the clients,” said Brianna Temple, an associate at the Ann Taylor store. But Temple also said the protests haven’t had an affect on sales, nor have they deterred customers from shopping there.

“They’re not scared off, but they’ll voice their opinions when they come in,” Temple said.

But, according to Occupy Chicago protester Camille Crawford, the protests are peaceful and the customers have nothing to fear.

“People are intimidated by things they don’t understand. I think if they actually came out and talked to us, they’d see there’s nothing sinister going on,” Crawford said.

According to Philbrook, other businesses in the area have been accommodating, some even letting the protesters hold meetings inside and use their bathrooms.

“They’re a lot nicer as long as we purchase something and aren’t rowdy,” Philbrook said.

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