Today we’d like to introduce you to Nonya B.
Nonya, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story begins in 2011. I was struggling for $50 a month after the crash of the market. My sister was travelling from Korea and asked me to locate some inexpensive locations to stay for when she does her European tour. I was a traveller prior. In assisting her, I stumbled onto Airbnb. After discovering the benefits of Airbnb and realizing the opportunity to help other budget travelers, I opened my home to allow folks to crash on my couch. Soon I became one of the most popular hosts in Chicago.
My transition into my company, WaitHereChicago, was relatively a simple but much needed concept. I began managing other airbnb hosts. Upon realizing that on the clientele that I represented could not be present to check-in their ‘guests’ into their homes until they had returned from work, my home was then used as a concierge location. Not only would I answer my host’s customer inquiries, but I would also allow them to sit and wait at my location, wash clothes… basically chill in my ‘lounge’ areas of my home.
Although, I had been providing this service for the most part to airbnb hosts that I represented, I decided to expand the service in a broader sense. ‘Guests’ of hotels, Airbnb Hosts, etc., would all be able to utilize my service to have their clients come and wait/lounge at my location or drop off their luggage. By providing pickup and delivery luggage, shuttle service tend to ease the nerves of those who didn’t want to stray into the englewood area. lol.
One day, a customer asked if I could pick up her luggage from O’hare for 8 hours. After giving her the rate, she then asked if she could come along with the luggage to get a quick glimpse of the city. I was quick to state that now, I offer ‘Chicago Drive-Bye Tours’.
Since the city is very limited on luggage storage for those who don’t want to drag their bags everywhere, it’s been a much needed service for travelers. I only wish I had a service like this when I was travelling.
This service will not be limited to Chicago. Currently, I am in the process of adding Phoenix, Arizona; Newark, NJ/NY. Every location will have limited services based on the Host. I like to consider myself as the FlagShip of Wait Here. You will find our locations on WaitHereInc.com (coming soon).
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been a smooth road by no means. When i started in 2011, I had imagined that my ‘nightmare’ guests would come from, well… guests. This was not the case. It was from the City of Chicago Police Department. When my non-black ‘guests’ came home and told me that the police had been pulling them over, I thought it was a joke. Some had stated that they would tell them they would die in Englewood. Others would ask if they were lost or doing drugs. I would blog about my ‘adventures’ on GhettoGirlHilton.com.
Within a month of opening my doors, I had 25 white police officers in front of my house. You would have thought I was running a drug house. When I realized that the officers had took on a negative tone with me as opposed to when they were talking to my white guests, I immediately pulled out my camera to record the conversation. (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f0Q8PuvCrU)
This was one of 4 or 5 bully raids/tactics that the police did. Every year, I felt as if there was going to be a new reunion of cops coming to my door pretending they don’t know who I was or what I was doing. Each time they came, they had 25-30 cops in front of the house. One year, 2014, they crossed the line. They came into my house when they knew I had just left the house. I had gotten a call within 5 minutes into arriving at the local Aldis. “There’s 6 cops in your house’. When I had come home, there were 30 cops going thru every inch of my home without a warrant or cause. After 2 hours of slapping my guests around, threatening them with jail if they didn’t show their I.D. and sending one to the hospital, they finally left without even leaving even a ticket. I immediately had the security system go live after that. I knew it wasn’t the end.
And it wasn’t.
Two years after that, not thinking that my cameras were real, 2 cops entered my home thru my locked gate, right into my front door. When they couldn’t get access to whatever it was that they were looking for/planted, they came back 4 days later with 3 building inspectors from Gang and Demolition and 6 narcotic cops from Homan Square Police Department. Their raid went for 2 hours! They eventually left since I refused to leave unless they showed me a warrant or something. They had nothing but threats. Their intensity for having me removed was displayed within a half hour after they broke into my property and discovered my cameras were real. Their plan was to remove me from my home for what they believe me of doing ‘Airbnb’ as a host. The truth was that, I had transitioned more so to the features/services on WaitHereChicago.com. Even if I had been doing Airbnb, their actions were ‘overkill’. In fact, the law didn’t pass until 2 weeks later for Airbnb hosts to register with the city.
Of course, I filed a federal lawsuit against the city for their illegal actions. However, I continue to provide my service thru WaitHereChicago.com for those in need.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about WaitHereChicago – what should we know?
The business is basically a layover and luggage concierge service.
If a guest has an early arrival (but cant check in until 3p.m.) or a late departure (but check-out is at 11am.), clients will use my location as layover lounge. Here they can wash their clothes, have coffee/tee, relax with cable, etc. Up to 2 children are free.
Guests can drop off their luggage 24 hours a day or we can pick up their luggage and drop off in any location of their choice for an additional charge. Usually the pickup would be free if between a selected shuttle time and for up to 3 bags.
I provide ‘The Devil In the White City’ Tour (and University of Chicago Obamaland tour). The Devil in the White City is based on the Erik Larson book documenting the historical event that surrounded the World Fair which happened in Englewood/Jackson Park. From my understanding, DiCaprio and Martin Scorcesse are producing the moving soon. Another tour I provide is the ‘DriveBye’ Tour for people who want to just drive bye some sites during their short 5 hour layover. It also includes, for movie buffs, that they can pre-select famous movie scene selections to visit for their selfies. The tours vary in time, depending on the hours alloted from their layovers.
CouchSurfing and Shuttle Service:
Sometimes, guests miss their planes or cancellations due to weather. I have a network of hosts that individuals are able to stay for a small rate of $15 per night for the most part (and up). Also, no service is complete without shuttle service.
I am very proud of what I have achieved and the many relationships I have bonded with from every part of the world. Its fulfilling when you help meet the needs of your guests and assist in their own dreams. Aside from my business services, even if it were duplicated, I think what sets me apart from others (hosts, entities, etc.) is the personal home style attention you receive as if you were an actual ‘cousin’ to the family. I continue to strive in my endeavors to make this company a household name for travellers, equally as memorable as the trip itself.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The only one I could give credit to is my mother, Darlene Wonsey. She was a classical pianist and taught all 9 of us piano thru professional tutors. I remember when I took my first trip by myself, and she asked me how much I had. I told her I only had $20. She said here’s $20 more. What was strange about that? She didn’t know where I was going. I told her a lie that I won a ticket on the radio for a free flight somewhere. She looked at me crazy. But, she never deterred me from going. She always wanted to travel and she loved travelers. When she entertained guests, she pulled out the works. She loved a good party. She instilled this in me.
Also, I owe much to Jehovah as a Jehovah’s Witness. Aside from the ‘good nature’ I may seem, it takes the strength of God to deal with the public and police, lol. Without that determination to remain calm, show patience for guests who are not aware of what we consider ‘basics’, and so on… it has been the strength, love and patience shown to me that allowed me to pass that on to others.
- Hold Your Luggage – $7 a bag
- Valet Luggage Shuttle as low as $5 from Midway Airport (not including service charge)
- Layover Concierge Service – $20 per person (up to 2 children free)
- Devil in the White City Tour – $20 per person (children free)
- Address: 64th & Racine
- Website: www.WaitHereChicago.com
- Phone: (312) 945-7982
- Email: email@example.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaitHereChicago/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/waitherechicago
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/wait-here-chicago-layover-lounge-and-luggage-storage-7-per-bag-chicago
- Other: http://www.ghettogirlhilton.com