A long-running, successful business in the heart of Chicago's Boystown neighborhood is for saleand the owner really wants to sell to someone within the LGBT community.
Batteries Not Included, 3420 N. Halsted St., has been for sale for a few months, a move made by store owner David Long after Long and his partner of five years, Roman Hernandez, moved from Chicago to Las Vegas. There is now even a "For Sale" sign in the front window.
Long is still very involved with the business, which is run on a day to day basis by general manager Drew Haas, who has worked at the store for 11 years. Long pays bills, approves orders, approves personnel matters, and more. "I'm definitely involved [in the business;] I'm just not there," said Long, who returns to Chicago about four times annually, usually for a few weeks per stretch.
Haas is the lone full-time employee, and there also are three part-timersand three of the four are openly gay, Long said. Since opening, Batteries Not Included, which specializes as a bachelorette store and more, has employed about 100.
The 1,400 square-feet business opened 16 years ago, and the asking-price is $55,000.
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"It's difficult running something from [about] 2,000 miles away," said Long, 45, who was born and raised in Chicago. "There are so many things that I would like to do with the store, but the fact that I'm not there to oversee it immediately makes it more difficult. But there's so much potential.
"As soon as we figured we were going to move to Las Vegas, I figured eventually I'm going to sell it. I would be so excited to help somebody, step aboard and take [over ownership.] This is my baby; I created this from nothing. It's emotional. I've been preparing myself for this for quite a while. It's definitely something I will miss, but I still kind of would like to be a part of it, be it with product suggestions, promotions, etc."
Long was a general manager for a Jennifer Convertibles furniture store, then a corporate trainer in the early 1990s. He then made a living investing in stocks.
In 1993, he moved to Halsted Street in Boystown.
"A good friend of mine was the manager at The Pleasure Chest, which was [located] on Broadway Street [in the late 1990s]," Long said. "He called me one day, asking for help with inventory. I said, 'Sure.' My mind blew [up], seeing all of the stuff there. It was fun."
A week later, The Pleasure Chest owner called Long again, asking if he'd work one day a week. Long agreed.
Nine months later, Long opened his own similar storeBatteries Not Included.
"At the time, Rosie O'Donnell's talk show was really popular," Long said. "So I kind of took the theme from her setfun, silly, bright colorsand that's where I got the idea for Batteries. Make it a fun, silly store.
"It was a risky [move], so I was there every day, working 80 hours/week. But we just had fun."
That included drag queen shows in the windows on weekends.
The store's busy season is traditionally spring, summer and falland that's when Batteries often is selling "silly stuff," and anything shaped like a penis, Long said. Colored, or rainbow, leis also are always popular.
In winter, sexual toys and more, such as vibrators and lubricants, are top sellers, he said.
"The first two years, as part of the business plan, we gave part of the profits to charity," said Long, who supported the predecessor to Equality Illinois, the Illinois Federation for Human Rights, among other charities.
"That really helped endear us to the neighborhood. And that's part of why I'm so excited to offer the business to someone else in the community. There's so much more that we could do, if an owner was present."
Long said he will not simply close the store if a buyer does not come forward. "It's a successful business; it'd be silly to call it a day," he said. "We're not hurting [financially]."