We all know a good button pusher or two, but how about a good button maker?
There are busy beavers toiling and working to supply the world with pin-back buttons from their headquarters in Logan Square. Busy Beaver Button Company and Museum (3279 W. Armitage Ave.) is a small operation churning out an enormous amount of buttons per year.
According to Joel Carter, Busy Beaver’s director of operations, during peak times the button-making factory can make around 30,000 hand-made buttons per day; last year Busy Beaver produced 3.5 million buttons for customers throughout the world. Some of the buttons are shipped as far as Japan, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
Buttons For Commoners, Famous Folk And Everyone In Between
Not only does Busy Beaver have an international clientele, but famous ones as well. Bands and musical acts like Daft Punk, Lil Wayne, Sonic Youth and Beck have all put in orders at Busy Beaver. Still, Busy Beaver is accessible for the ultra-local client, as organizations like I Am Logan Square and LoganSquarist have also been customers.
Busy Beaver isn’t just a business. It contains enough wall space to display buttons from as far back as the first button patent, filed in 1896. Cases along the walls contain around 2,500 buttons, but Carter says the museum has about 10,000 of those little pieces of history to eventually put up.
Soon, those historical buttons in storage will have space to breathe in a larger location after Busy Beaver relocates a few blocks down the road later this year.
A Button For Every Occasion
A button can say just about anything, and the breadth of the museum’s collection is impressive. Busy Beaver has everything from political to comic to music to fine art to sports to event to meta to portrait buttons.
While the company has been around since 1995, Busy Beaver has curated the museum for five years and is currently applying to become a 501(c)(3) non-profit. It even employs, at times, up to seven interns who receive college credit for their work in compiling the stories and history about each individual button in the museum’s collection. The collection and those descriptions can be found at Busy Beaver’s online museum.
As much as it can, Busy Beaver uses recycled materials for its buttons. The current building also has a solar array on the roof and uses a geothermal energy system that required drilling 300 feet below the surface in Busy Beaver’s backyard. Carter says Busy Beaver is committed to going green at its new facility when it moves by installing those same solar and geothermal systems.
Sustainable business practices allow Busy Beaver to not only keep costs down for its button making operation, giving customers a great deal on affordable buttons, but also allow the company to acquire more buttons and document their historical significance for the museum.
Worth A Visit
The Busy Beaver crew is glad to take a few minutes out of their busy-beaver workday to show their collection. They are open for visitation at the current location Monday through Friday from 10 am – 4 pm.
Whether dropping by to check out the collection or placing an order, this is the type of local Chicago business that is also worth supporting because it is leading by example. Luckily for all of us Logan Squares, a visit or a hand-made order can be made just down the block.