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Wonder! Closes After Three Months

Financial restructuring lies ahead.

Wonder!, the Deerfield children’s superstore and activity center in Deerbrook Mall has closed after three months of operation because of financial difficulties, according to a story in today’s Chicago Tribune.

The company indicated it will be financially restructured and has hope for the future, according to the article.

When the store opened in late October, it championed the concept of being a one stop operation for everything a person needs for children from birth through age 7, according to founder Shane Christensen of Lake Forest.

RonnieTheLimoDriver February 20, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Shoot, I didn't know Boston Market closed. I like that place. The problem with all these strip malls is despite all the street traffic, you cant see what stores are there when you drive by. The level of visibility from the street is very low.
Bringin' Down Briarwood February 20, 2012 at 09:57 PM
RE: Ronnie's comment about the town developing it themselves ... I agree 100%, Ronnie. But there are ways, the town can work with the developers and help influence a direction.If they don't know how to do this and can't get creative, we probably have the wrong people in office.
Bringin' Down Briarwood February 20, 2012 at 10:03 PM
BOOM!!! There it is!! (I thought TIFs could have something to do with this, but I'm not educated at all on the topic.) Run for mayor, Q!!! Base your platform on community development and you have my vote.
RonnieTheLimoDriver February 20, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Yes, and we have seen those techniques abused all over Chicago to the point where half the city is TIF. If the goal is to increase revenue for the village, Im not sure TIF's are the answer. Absolutely, the village could also use eminent domain, but then they still need to find a new developer to build out the space. Im not exactly sure there is a line of developers looking to sign up for this right now. Give it time and the market will work this out on its own. If most of the space is empty, eventually the current owners will have to do something or the property will end up in somebody else's hands. TIFs and Eminent Domain work great for blighted, disadvantaged areas. Deerfield does not have a lot of those. If you all remember correctly, Wonder! was given tax incentives by the village and we saw how well that worked out.
Bringin' Down Briarwood February 20, 2012 at 10:10 PM
To Ronnie ... Was Wonder really given tax incentives? That's disappointing. I've only been in this community for a couple years. Maybe you can offer some insight. What should I expect out of this board and the mayor? Can they revitalize things? As for TIFs, I'm pretty sure I know a few Chicago communities where mid-income areas were greatly improved with the help of TIFs. The money is there. Somebody is going to use it. If the town doesn't try/know how to access it, that's half the problem.
The Q February 20, 2012 at 10:10 PM
The market cant fix an old model. Tifs work great well applied correctly. Never use chicago as an example, unless you want to show how money can be wasted and poor management can lead to nothing. There is nothing wrong with the retail spender in deerfield. Its the space......trust me. That whole area need to be torn down and redevloped. Any more tax incentatives is just a waste. And i moved to highland park becuase its sad to watch deerfields decline by tax and spend liberals. I avoided lake cook and waukegan like the plauge.
RonnieTheLimoDriver February 21, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Yeah on tax breaks, from the article when it opened, "The store receives tax breaks if it exceeds $25 million in annual sales". So good news is I suspect they did not achieve that threshold. In my opinion, the Village is generally more business friendly then I can ever remember. It used to be that every business had to jump through so many hoops when they opened that they never came to deerfield. For example, the village almost never approved any "new" liquor licenses which scared off new restaurants. Finally that all started to change with the downtown redevelopment and the blowing up of the "Deerfield Commons" shopping center and building what is there now with Wholefoods, walgreens, etc. You also have to remember that being Mayor in Deerfield is a part-time unpaid job. There are still plenty of things the village can do to improve development, but I am just saying I believe they are trying to be flexible with businesses. If you go on the village web site, you can see there are a couple of different committees that have to do with development. You should join one if you have strong opinions and expertise that could be valuable. Perhaps somebody with expertise can tell us, does Deerfield have a lower occupancy rate for retail sq.ft compared to avg? how about compared to other "similar" areas (income, population, etc)?
Pat Sajak February 21, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Give me a Wal-Mart and watch Deerbrook come back to life.
Bringin' Down Briarwood February 21, 2012 at 02:40 AM
I want to revitalize business, not sell my soul to the devil with a company whose main goal is to usually drive out local business.
forest barbieri February 21, 2012 at 07:24 AM
Unfortunate on many levels! In the original opening blog, I doubted the viability of such a concept as it was one of those wonderful in concept and one their friends would say great idea but in this economy, which is just now beginning a long long recovery, not going to happen. My guess is they had 3 months free rent which ended, alot of space to fill with inventory and bills were coming due, overly aggressive price points on quality stock. Having said that, it was a most interesting store that my 3 year old loved, unfortunately, her disposable cash is limited. Service was superb so they had that down!. Again, too bad but you need much more than a concept to be successful. To those naysayers about Walmart, of which i am neither a fan or customer, I do know that they are fought every step of the way and then their stores are packed by those same opponents as they suck up the lower prices. As to local businesses, Walmart will not put a well run business out of business. It affects those that are not efficient, profitable for the wrong reasons and do not necessarily add value to a community. There are still many successful small operations in locations with Walmart with a value added component.
Pat Sajak February 21, 2012 at 11:45 AM
If Deerfield wants/needs tax dollars, so they can build an unneeded new library (because kids are going to read books and not iPads in the future), they should beg for a WalMart - when was the last time you saw an empty WalMart, never. Who in town would they harm ? We don't have many mom & pop stores, and the ones we have are boutiques selling $149 sweaters, not $14.99 ones.
irving drobny February 21, 2012 at 12:26 PM
too much traffic, stores here are not designed to bring many upscale customers there. need to change direction , get a better flow of traffic & do more advertising, couons, sales, etc. to bring customers in
Melissa Morreale February 21, 2012 at 02:12 PM
The consistent comment heard thru-out the area was that the merchandise was way over-priced! Consumers are not looking for over-priced merchandise....quality merchandise priced right. Unfortunately I am not surprised they are closing.
RonnieTheLimoDriver February 21, 2012 at 03:01 PM
I wish it was something that exciting, but it was just bad business. Remember, their original opening was delayed for almost a year while they looked for funding. And according to the lawsuit, they are accused of not paying their contractors right after they got their occupancy permit. While such a large store, they needed a LOT of cash just to keep operations going. They were undercapitalized from the start, and the store never generated enough money to keep up. They are closing after 3-4 months because likely all their vendors will no longer provide them with merchandise until they pay up. Im not sure how it is retail, but in other industries if you go 90+ days, people are not going to sell you new stuff. Remember most businesses fail within the first year, and in most cases, they were doomed to failure before they even opened because of a bad plan. Wonder! did not understand that customer's here, while affluent, are also sharp and were unwilling to pay their inflated prices. Furthermore, there is a reason why the rest of retail is moving away from the giant box concept. Wonder! could have worked if they had a store about half the size, prices about 20% lower, and more of a focus on their online channel.
smart guy February 21, 2012 at 03:25 PM
One type of store that might have some legs in that location would be a real grocery store. How about a Mariano's? The Jewel there is terrible--old, small, and outdated. Of course no way another grocery store can come in with Jewel's lease in place. Just wishful thinking.
Ed60062 February 21, 2012 at 04:19 PM
That store was a long time coming. I don't think I ever saw a single ad for it. From the outside who would know what they sold inside? No indication whatsoever.
Larry Jones February 21, 2012 at 05:04 PM
You forgot those that had bought gift cards to use as gifts which are now worthless
Larry Jones February 21, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Anyone that hasn't been in Mariano's either in Lincolnshire or Arlington Heights is missing one of the great grocery concepts around!
The Q February 21, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Sounds great, but nobody wants to invest the money in Tenant build out in an old tired mall with horrible traffic and bad access. Mariano's are going into custom built new sites......same is true for Walmart or Target.
Jon Hall February 21, 2012 at 09:40 PM
No wonder! I mean geesh it sounded like a terrible concept from the first time it was reported. Whoever funded it to the extent it was should have had their head examined, or run for President. So much space, in such a terrible location, plus the underground parking...I always thought it's destiny should be a homeless shelter.
Jon Hall February 21, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Roundy's Foods with an innovative concept? Like most of the food outlets in the area, Mariano's falls into the stale familiar concept of mediocrity disguised as excellence, something residents of this area seem attracted to in large numbers.
Dakota February 22, 2012 at 01:23 AM
So many mistakes in town. Rec center should have gone at the Jewett center with the park behind it. Down town a joke. Library-14Million, really? Pile the snow at the highest point in the center mall so its wet until May and freezes nightly. Where is down town? North of Deerfield or south? North-South-East-West of 43 and Lake Cook? We only shop at NB ct and Whole Foods. Not worth the traffic.
Dakota February 22, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Simple reason is too many flunkies wanting the power of politics and get nothing done.
Charlie February 22, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Agreed. The new downtown belonged on the Sara Lee property where a new infrastructure could have been created to support it, similar to what was later done at the Glen, but that wasn't they way King Bernie designed it.
NB February 22, 2012 at 02:40 PM
The last thing we want in this town is another bleepin' TIF district. Keep in mind that the ones they had in downtown almost expired. The one where Deerfield Square is was in it's last few years when the developer stepped in. And for our efforts we got a tired old shopping center replaced with another shopping center that already looks dated, has some empty store fronts, has ridiculously small parking spaces, and like someone else pointed out, has snow piles in some of the parking spaces until May (Hell, I remember the developer promising the Board {Promising!!!} that he would haul the snow away. And every time I step in a run-off puddle that runs down the parking hill, I remember our current Mayor griping about the old Commons and how the water ran down the parking lot and won't this new development be so nice because that won't happen). While this is a nice place to live, we have never had a board (or a community development office) with vision to go out and recruit decent retail and be innovative in how it's developed.
Bringin' Down Briarwood February 22, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Is there a candidate out there with development experience in this area? Please, please step up!! The town needs you. You'll have my vote.
Jon Hall February 22, 2012 at 10:49 PM
From the impression I've been left with reading Patch, Sheyman might be able to organize Wonder! into a magnet homeless shelter for our region.
Jon Hall February 22, 2012 at 10:57 PM
It needs a turnaround guy with suit-like qualities similar to Mitt Romney who's spent the last six years in his job running managing presidential campaigns going nowhere. A suit is a suit is a suit is empty. Wasting other fools' money is no Wonder!
Dakota February 22, 2012 at 11:29 PM
I would look outside the midwest as everyone will want a piece of the pie. The disaster the town built ten years ago is a joke. Spread it out like a boomerang and cover 95% of it in asphalt. If it was done right they could have made a market Sq. like LF. The library for 14million? I could do a new one for 6M and pocket 2M. Its no WONDER half the commercial space is empty in town and getting worse. I remember a trustee telling us a year ago air-conditioning at Wilmot would cost 10Million. We could do it for 4k a room. It's called a mini-split. This town is so full of idiots it will never change. Exact reason we r moving to LF!
Shelly Branstett February 25, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Don't forget the customers who shelled out big bucks just last week for merchandise they ordered that will never arrive...I am talking in excess of $1500 for furniture for the nursery. Now they are out that money. Happened to someone I know.

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