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For a Ukrainian gift shop in Chicago, Russia’s war means changes big and small

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Demonstrators are reflected in a puddle of melted snow during a rally in support of Ukraine in Chicago's Ukrainian Village in February.

Myroslav Serhijchuk, owner of the Delta gift shop in Chicago's Ukrainian Village, says he's "trying to do everything possible" to support Ukraine. Scott Olson/Getty Images

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When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Myroslav Serhijchuk, owner of the Delta gift shop in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, immediately saw an increase in business.

“Sales are three times [higher] than before,” said Serhijchuk, who moved to the U.S. with his family in 1996. “The war began on February 24, and right on that day, many people came to the store to support Ukrainian businesses — American, all American — just to get something connected to Ukraine.”

Ukrainian flags and stickers are popular among the influx of new customers, but a big portion of the store’s inventory is traditional Ukrainian goods and clothing, often handmade and imported directly from Ukraine — a supply chain that has been imperiled by Russia’s invasion.

“For now, it’s impossible to get anything from there,” said Serhijchuk, who has made his own individual donations to the Ukrainian armed forces and now is collecting money to send to Ukraine through his business. “I have products from almost all regions of Ukraine, and now it’s impossible to travel to different regions in Ukraine to purchase the merchandise.”

And a bigger question — about what the war will mean for the many artists and craftspeople who make the products he sells — remains.

“I don’t know how that will look in the future because many people now refugees. And once they move, they probably will not be able to create something. So, we’ll see,” he said. “Important is to end the war, for now.”

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