The people have spoken and they want a Target

A few weeks ago, the Village solicited feedback to find out from residents what kind of retail they would like to see go into the soon-to-be-vacant Borders space. Well, the people have spoken, and they want a "general merchandise" store such as an urban Target.


I actually voted for a home goods store like Crate and Barrel or Williams-Sonoma. If you ask me, I don't think we have enough parking to support a Target (I'm sure it would attract way more shoppers than the Borders) and it would probably create a traffic nightmare. Plus, we have two Targets (although not the best ones I've been to) within 10 minutes of Oak Park. I'm just not seeing the need for another one, but if we do get one, I'm sure I would shop there as long as it wasn't a hassle. At the end of the day, I just hope we can fill the space quickly because I'd hate to see an empty storefront on such a prominent corner.


Official press release:


A general merchandise store would be the best replacement for the Borders bookstore that soon will vacate the high-profile building at Lake Street and Harlem Avenue. That's the word from those who completed a recent online survey posted by the Village.

Some 519 respondents took the brief survey created from more than 140 suggestions sent to the Village via e-mail, facebook and twitter. While the Village cannot select the building's next tenant, officials say input from residents may be of value to the building management company in its marketing efforts.

The top suggestions sent to the Village first were divided into eight categories, which respondents were asked to rank in their order of preference. A general merchandise store was ranked first by nearly 23 percent of the respondents, followed by department store (19.4 percent) and electronics retailer (15.0 percent).

Other preferences by category were home goods (12.6 percent), discount retailer (10 percent), restaurant (10 percent), sporting goods (7.1 percent) and retail clothing/shoes (6.4 percent).

When respondents were asked to voice their support for specific companies, Crate & Barrel or other home-goods store was the top choice, with nearly 82 percent in support. An urban-style Target or other general merchandise store was a close second with about 78 percent in support.

Other popular choices were Macy's or other department store (76.4 percent), Apple store (72.1 percent) and H&M or other retail clothing store (70.3 percent).

"We understand that a survey of this type is not a scientific measurement of community opinion," said Loretta Daly, Oak Park's Business Services Manager. "But they can offer insights into how people feel about what types of retailers they would like to have in the community.

"When more than 500 people take the time to let us know what they think, it is worth noting. Clearly, those individuals who took the survey understood that a building of that size and prominence really needs a strong tenant with broad consumer appeal."

 Flickr photo from Payton Chung

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Comment by Jane Hseu on August 10, 2011 at 8:34pm
How about a roller skating/rollerblade rink? Although I don't know if that space is big enough. The cafe would make a nice, more upscale refreshment stand. Maybe let the basement be a party room. Since roller derby is so popular now, maybe there could be roller derby contests/performances there--maybe Oak Park could create its own female roller derby team! Other sports/fitness-related ideas: A ping pong club/restaurant/bar/nightclub a la Susan Sarandon-owned Spin Milwaukee or Spin New York: Ping pong is an Olympic sport that is growing in popularity in the US and Chicago area. It's a great family sport as well. It shouldn't take too much trouble to set up flooring and some tables, and the cafe would make a nice bar/restaurant area. I think Spin Milwaukee has really taken off.
Comment by Jane Hseu on August 10, 2011 at 8:26pm
I think having a year-round farmers market/local food products is a great idea that also emphasizing local farmers and businesses instead of chains. Milwaukee's public market is a really good model. Maybe people could sell locally made ice cream, coffee, and other wintery products when produce is rarer during the winter. Although Whole Foods probably wouldn't like that. It would be great to also have some local food stands as does Milwaukee Public Market--a Korean place would be great!
Comment by Joyce Porter on August 8, 2011 at 8:25am

I agree with Maureen.   When I first moved here I remember an article in one of the local papers talking about Oak Park being chain adverse and how we had so few.   It's good that we have some now, but I like most of the businesses being local.  However, I;m afraid that no one but a chain would have the cash t rennovate and pay rent on what is probably the largest retail space in town.  Hopefully, something a little more distinctive though than Target #4 in the area.  Something like Crate and Barrel or Apple that as the gateway to Oak Park for many would give the impression that they are entering a classy downtown shopping area and not a strip mall.  I think that would serve us better in the long run in terms of how people view the village.


Comment by Sharon on August 8, 2011 at 1:04am
Someone mentioned having WonderWorks expand on one of the comment boards I read - probably Weds. Journal.  What a great idea - it would draw people to our neighborhood and fill a need.  I remember when I moved here from the city, I missed the easy access to the Children's Museum and Bubbles Academy (I'd love it if they opened a branch here!)  Wonder Works is such a nice concept but it's so small - think what they could do with the space.  I'd also be happy to just have a Barnes and Noble take over the space - again, the play area at Barnes and Nobles are great to visit with kids on a cold winter afternoon.  Target - meh.  We need something unique that will anchor the corner.  I'd avoid that corner at all costs if a Target went in.
Comment by Brad on August 7, 2011 at 10:06pm

I concur with Hank.  As much as I struggle with this one, I can't fathom an answer.


I want the Target idea to work.  We seemingly drop $100 there every week on essentials, and we've actually been buying *some* groceries there (the Brickyard Target now has a nice grocery section, not sure its officially a "Super Target" now though).


I have no idea, in hell, how one would maneuver a cart full of groceries out of that store and to the parking garage north on Harlem which is already usually filled to capacity.  Just does not seem plausible.  Would love to see the tax dollars stay in OP though.




Comment by Fred tamburino on August 7, 2011 at 3:37pm
Don't forget people are not spending money so a discount retailer would be nice. Consumer spending is at an all time low according to CNBC! Plus the Walmart in Forest Park is like a zoo, the police are there all day for fights, shoplifting, employee theft car accidents in the lot, hit and runs! WE don't need that on the corner of Harlem and Lake.The Police have there hand full enough with the little problems we have.
Comment by Maureen McLachlan on August 6, 2011 at 11:43pm

OK, so there's a Target not only in Melrose Park (which is also a SuperTarget), but even closer to home on Narragansett and Diversey for the northsiders at least. Four Target's in the area, really? Nighmare traffic? Yep.

I'm disgusted that there was no choice other than a chain and I answered the poll. I voted for an REI type store myself. Why not a Philadelphia style covered market? OK, that's elite, I know, but so is EVERYTHING else in our community...let's face it. Brewpub would be great, but we need to go over our issue of no "bars" in Oak Park. I think the space, unless divided, will only go to another large chain.

I'm sorry, I grew up in Oak Park. Yes, we had a Gap, a Marshall Field's and a Weiboldt's, it's true, but everything else was, or at least seemed local. I know I'm going to get a bad response, but I feel we've lost some charm here in the last decades. If people want the same darn thing as everyone else then move to Schaumburg or Naperville.

Comment by Joyce Porter on August 6, 2011 at 8:03am
I agree with all of Becca's comments.   Plus if we are going to get a general merchandise store, why not try for something a little more upscale than Target, such as Macy's, or at least Penney's.
Comment by Fred tamburino on August 5, 2011 at 11:21pm

You do not need any more restaurants or bars in the Lake Street Area!


Comment by Fred tamburino on August 5, 2011 at 11:19pm

The proper thing to do like other communities, is to have the village president call the CEO of Target and invite him to open a store with certain insentivies (maybe a tax break, job placement for Oak Park residents, ETC!

That is how Melrose Park has so many new retail store. A Target store would be great for Oak Park, (increased sales tax revenue, jobs)


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