Andrew Wimer
Andrew Wimer · May 22, 2018

Chicago—This morning, the Chicago City Council’s License and Consumer Protection Committee voted to extend the emerging business permit for mobile boutiques by one year. The Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Law School is working with mobile boutique owners to push for a renewable license that allows new businesses to operate under sensible rules. Today’s extension allows mobile boutiques to continue to operate, but under rules that make it difficult to compete and succeed.

“We are disappointed that the committee failed to reach a permanent solution that would allow for innovative small businesses to thrive in Chicago,” said Beth Kregor, the director of IJ’s Clinic. “Mobile retail provides a pathway for entrepreneurs to contribute to Chicago’s retail scene. Restrictive rules on these businesses will lead creative and hard-working individuals to look for opportunities outside of Chicago. If the city tries to regulate them so strictly that they cannot compete, they will be run out of business—or at least run out of town.”

Rebecca Mueller started working with Beth Kregor and law students at the IJ Clinic three years ago, when she learned she could not legally sell her designer fashions from a truck she had transformed into a tiny boutique. With the IJ Clinic’s help, Rebecca’s business, North & Hudson, received Chicago’s first emerging business permit for mobile boutiques in June 2016. The opportunity allowed Rebecca to build a customer base. Soon, she was able to expand her business to a storefront in Block 37.

Rebecca testified before the committee, saying, “Starting a mobile business gives people like me, with big dreams and small budgets, a way to start without a lot of cash and follow customer demand into bigger, better, often brick-and-mortar opportunities.”

However, Rebecca noted that the current restrictions make it difficult to succeed: “Two-hour parking limits are an income killer. We, and our customers, simply need more time.” The IJ Clinic will continue to advocate for entrepreneurs like Rebecca, who seek the freedom to serve customers, grow a business, and create jobs in Chicago.

The IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Law School provides free legal assistance, support and advocacy for low-income entrepreneurs. Its mission is to ensure that the law does not stand in the way of entrepreneurs who are trying to earn an honest living and build innovative new business models.