Sunday, September 19, 2021 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Profiles in Profit: This is a series that profiles how small businesses in Proviso Township have been coping since the pandemic.
On Sept. 3, the Wall Street Journal reported that products containing chemical compounds derived from cannabis have been increasingly prevalent over the last five years.
Those compounds include not only marijuana (the most active ingredient of cannabis), but also cannabidiol (CBD), which is the second most prevalent active ingredient of cannabis, according to Harvard researchers.
The Wall Street Journal explained that analysts with Raymond James, an investment bank, predict that the “cannabinoid industry will be worth $10 billion globally by 2025.”
And Maria Ruiz, a Melrose Park entrepreneur, is looking to secure her own small profit from the growth industry.
On a recent hot Saturday afternoon, Ruiz, 53, was standing in front of a table she’d prepared outside of her Ruiz Fashion and Fragrancias, 137 N. Broadway in Melrose Park.
Maria Ruiz, the owner of Ruiz Fashion and Fragrancias, outside of her Melrose Park store on Saturday afternoon. | Michael Romain
Ruiz has owned the store, which sells general merchandise (everything from jewelry to perfume and cosmetics) for the last four years.
The businesswoman said she started selling the CBD products after experiencing them in her own life.
“I was suffering with pain in my right arm and I couldn’t move it,” she said. “People started asking me, ‘Why don’t you have CBD? It will help you with pain and swelling.’ I tried it and I liked it. So, I found this company that sells it wholesale. A lot of people like it.”
Ruiz said she offers samples and buy-one-get-one-free specials.
The products, she said, have helped her business ride the rough patch brought on by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
Carlos Ruiz, Ruiz’s son, works in the store on Saturday afternoon. | Michael Romain
Ruiz said she’s also benefited from federal pandemic relief that was given to businesses across the country.
So far, the strategy of diversifying her offerings and leveraging external support like Paycheck Protection Program funding has worked.
“We’ve increased sales by more than half over last year,” she said, which has allowed her to retain key workers like her son, Carlos Ruiz, 23.
“It’s basically the same,” Ruiz said when explaining the difference he’s experienced since the pandemic’s onset.
“It’s just a little harder to hear people with masks,” he said.
Ruiz Fashion and Fragrancias, 137 N. Broadway in Melrose Park, is open seven days a week: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to. 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, contact Ruiz at (773) 206-5100.