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West Humboldt Park Residents Celebrate Fourth of July With Locally Made BBQ Grills By Eva’s Hardware

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By: See Brown

The Fourth of July is marked by community celebrations and the heart of the American tradition is the BBQ. In the West Humboldt Park Chicago neighborhood is a long-standing Mom- N-Pop hardware store called Eva’s Hardware that sells custom made barbeque grills. The jumbo grills are built from steel drums by neighborhood craftsmen inside the store.

 

Eva’s Hardware store is located on the first floor of a three-story brick building located at 3622 West Chicago Avenue. It is owned and operated by Ms. Eva, the only female African American hardware store owner in the City of Chicago. Eva’s Hardware has been a staple in West Humboldt Park for more than 20 years. Ms. Eva inherited the building from her parents who bought it more than 40 years ago.

Eva-Hardware

On this particular busy day before Fourth of July,  workers placed two of the custom made bbq grills in front of the store to attract passersbys and busy traffic on Chicago Ave.

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Walking into the store, Ms. Eva was multi-tasking as she worked the register, assisted customers, and answered phone calls. She wasthe only female inside the store in an industry that is predominantly men. She answered a customer call, while patiently assisting one man searching drawers for screws. One customer praised Eva’s Hardware and its employees for their good customer service throughout the years they have been patronizing the hardware store.

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Watch Breaking Voices news video of a West Humboldt Park resident talking about his experience at Eva’s Hardware store.

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At the back of the store, a partition of boxes and shelves divide the store’s inventory from the craftsmen’s work area. Two craftsmen were in process of drilling holes and torching metal drums to make more bbq grills.

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The grills ranged in sizes from a large double barrel that cost $225 and a single barrel drill that cost $85. Each size grill are made with two rack levels that could be used for grilling both meats and as well as vegetables.

To find an independently owned and operated African American hardware supply business is a rarity in Chicago. Eva’s Hardware is located in the West Humboldt Park community, a high-crime area where few businesses survive.

Next door to the hardware store there once was an African American owned restaurant that closed years ago. Now that restaurant is replaced by an Asian-owned fast food joint. A week prior to this article writing, one homicide occurred on the west side of the building, causing the Chicago Police Department to place one of its cars to watch guard at the building’s southwest corner.

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From the entrance of Eva’s Hardware one can see the John Hancock building standing prominently few miles to the east on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.

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Despite the crime, evidence of community exists in this part of West Humboldt Park. Eva’s Hardware shares the building with the West Humboldt Park Development Council, an organization on a mission to improve the area. Around the corner is the Chicago Commons Nia Family Center, a non-profit organization that partners with individuals, families, and communities to overcome poverty, discrimination and isolation. One block west on Chicago Ave is the Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy Charter School. Nearby is a beautiful “Black History” mural that illustrates the dreams and hopes for the community.

Eva’s Hardware store presence in West Humboldt Park is evidence that small businesses are the cornerstone of communities. And on Fourth of July, a day where freedom is celebrated it is good to see an African American female-owned business like Eva’s Hardware providing goods that make Fourth of July celebrations more festive.

Eva’s Hardware is open Monday to Saturday from 8am – 6pm.

UPDATE July 8:
Over the Fourth of July weekend, more than 82 people were shot and 11 fatally in the City of Chicago, according to The Chicago Tribune, making it the single most gun violent weekend in Chicago this year.  Chicago Police Superintendant blame weak Illinois gun laws and the ‘proliferation of firearms’ that make Chicago more violent than other big cities like New York.

On July 7, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made following statement about the violence:

“The number of shootings and murders that took place over the holiday weekend is simply unacceptable, and points out that we still have work to do. The solution does not just include policing – although we’ll continue to look for ways to put more police where they’re needed. We also have to give our young people alternatives to the street, and as a community we need to demand more of ourselves and our neighbors. This violence is unacceptable wherever it occurs in our city and all of us need to take a stand. The only way we will meet this challenge to our future is to join with one another and create a partnership for peace.”

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In writing this article and observing large number of idle youths hanging out in middle of weekday afternoon in West Humboldt Park, one solution to reduce Chicago violence is that more work is needed to create jobs for youths so that idle youths can stay off the streets and out of gangs.

With more small businesses like Eva’s Hardware in high crime neighborhoods, youths can find places to work and stay engaged in their neighborhood.

 

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