Words with Guides: Alicia Dumas
Published on February 21, 2022
What better way is there to learn about the tours we offer, than to meet the guides who build them?
We’re kicking off this new feature blog with Whoa! Guide: Alicia Dumas.
Like many of us, Alicia Dumas was trudging through her days in various jobs she had held. She wasn’t happy and she didn’t really know what she wanted to do. She states, “I would get a job and quit because I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. I don’t like being trapped indoors. I like being outside and feeling free, free to be who I am.”
What she did realize was that in addition to being outside, she also liked to drive, she loved people and she definitely liked telling stories.
It all started coming together for her when she began working with the Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Company in 2005. Suddenly she loved getting up and going to work every day.
During training one day, at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road while heading to the museum campus, Alicia learned about the Central Train Station that was once there. This is where “The Red Caps and Pullman Porters” worked. It was in that moment she realized a passion for history she never knew she had. Her love for this job grew more and more.
Alicia shared, “I thought, ‘You have got to be kidding me! All this happened in Chicago?’ I was born and raised here and didn’t know this. There are so many stories about Chicago that people never knew.”
This was the beginning of Alicia opening her own travel and tour company.
Two other drivers took her to other areas on the south side; showing her places she knew—but with new information and showing it to her in a new light. The more she learned the more she knew she wanted to tell other people about this. She started researching and reading. “Education was really important to my grandma, who raised me.” She said, “But in school, I barely made it through. I didn’t want to pick up a book. I just didn’t find it interesting. But now I’ve found a passion for reading in doing my research.” Alicia’s Yelp reviews for the tour and trolley company were positive. And eventually she realized, “Wow, what I’m doing is growing this company. Why can’t I do that for myself?” She’s been working toward her own tour business goals ever since.
Below are some additional highlights from our conversation with Alicia Dumas.
How would you describe yourself as a tour guide?
I’m the happiest when I’m giving a tour, or even preparing for a tour. It gives me the energy and the drive to do what I love doing. It’s really about who I am and what I’m able to bring to the group. And when we’re together on a tour–it’s all about us at that time.
What are your top 3 favorite restaurants in the city?
Yassa, the only Senegalese restaurant in the city, at 35th and King Drive in Bronzeville.
Ooh wee! A soul food, black owned restaurant at 83rd and State Street.
Fogo de Chao, the delicious Brazilian Steakhouse chain
What is your favorite city after Chicago?
I love New York and have been there at least 8 times over the past 10 years. It will be the next place to grow my business. I love Times Square and Harlem. NY and Chicago are very similar. In fact, at one point, the Bronzeville community was known as Little New York.
When you visit another city, what kinds of places do you ALWAYS go to check out?
Thrift stores, second-hand stores. In NY, they don’t really have taxes so you can save. I’ve got to go! Second-hand stores are great because you can find something different that you haven’t seen before.
What’s your advice for preparing someone to take a tour?
Come with an open mind that you’re going to receive something. I want to impart the knowledge for you to receive things you may not have known.
What’s the hardest part about being a tour guide?
Advertising and Marketing. I don’t know how to use the internet too well. So it frustrates me because I’m trying to learn all of these things and I don’t know how to get it across like I should. Alicia is relaunching with a new mission and vision and marketing angle this year. Her focus will be as a private company, expanding into new communities. Keep an eye out for new offerings featuring Downtown, Chinatown, Pilsen, and Little Italy.
Purchase Alicia’s current tour, Bronzeville: The Mecca of Culture and Excellence today and save 25% (through March 15th) using code 5XusABIRJH.
The Adventure starts when you say it does.
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