Only one barbershop has city license
KANKAKEE — As of a couple weeks ago, only one of Kankakee’s 15 barbershops had a city business license, according to the city.
The sole licensee was for Gentlemen’s Choice Barber Shop, 455 E. River St.
This information came as the result of Kankakee business owner Pat Wilder’s public records request to the city government.
Wilder, who owns All Automotive shops in Kankakee and three other area towns, previously has submitted records requests to see if other auto-related businesses are following city regulations. He has posted the results of those requests on Facebook.
But he said he has been criticized for seeming to focus on competitors. So he decided on a type of business that is the polar opposite of his — barbershops. He said he wanted to point out that the city wasn’t aggressively working to make sure that local businesses had licenses.
Businesses with state licenses, such as barbershops, still must get the local business licenses, but they don’t have to pay the $100 renewal fee.
As part of the process, a business must undergo a fire inspection and show proof of insurance and any required state licenses.
In response to Wilder’s public records request, the city sent out notices to the noncompliant shops to appear in the city’s adjudication court, according to an email to Wilder from Kristine Schmitz, the city’s Freedom of Information Act officer.
One of the barbershops without a city business license was Crawford Barber Shop, 239 E. Court St., owned by Alderman Dave Crawford, R-3. In a May 10 email, Schmitz told Wilder that Crawford came into compliance in light of the request for public records.
“Yesterday, Mr. Crawford was in my office, and I informed him that he was in violation.” Schmitz wrote. “He went to the clerk’s office and completed his applications for 2018-19 and 2019-20 and paid a penalty for 2018-19.”
In an interview, Crawford confirmed Schmitz’s information. But he said he had already undergone a fire inspection and shown proof of insurance and his state license.
“I had done all that and turned it in,” Crawford said. “I didn’t realize I had to do the actual business license part of it. So I went in and did my paperwork and got a license for this year and last year. I’ll bet that of the 15 barbershops here, some don’t have their state licenses.”
Officials say the city requires licenses so it can keep track of who is doing business in town and make sure fire inspections are done.
In 2015, the city reported that 20 percent of local businesses lacked city business licenses.