Photo by Joe Boyle
The parking lot was filled to capacity for the grand opening on Sept. 14 of the new Carson’s at 9700 S. Western Ave. in Evergreen Park.
A slight drizzle did not deter a large crowd from showing up for the grand opening of the new Carson’s store at 9700 S. Western Ave. in Evergreen Park on the morning of Sept. 14.
In the eyes of Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton, who was on hand for the ribbon-cutting and grand opening, there were just clear skies. The Evergreen Park High School Band helped to usher in a new era of Carson’s by playing as the doors opened and the crowd began to file in.
“It was a nice day and it was very, very organized,” said Sexton. “We had a little rain but it didn’t stop anything. It was a nice turnout with very nice people on hand. We are very glad that the first phase is over.”
Sexton was referring to the fact with the opening of Carson’s this is the first step in the construction process for the Evergreen Marketplace. While the grand opening proceedings were taking place, construction crews were busy at work next door to the new Carson’s on additional retail stores and restaurants.
“They want to get the old Carson’s demolished as quickly as possible for additional parking (for the new Carson’s),” said Sexton, who said that it will be needed if the crowds that gathered on the first day at the new location are any indication.
“I was telling some of the officials that the love affair with Carson’s dates back to the ‘50s. People like Carson’s and will continue to shop there,” said Sexton.
According to Christine Hojnacki, vice president for public relations for The Bon Ton Stores, Inc., which operates Carson’s, 400 people were waiting in line to enter the new Carson’s on the first day despite the rain.
“The first customer was here at 3:30 a.m.,” said Hojnacki. “A lot of people brought lawn chairs.”
The old Carson’s was still operating until the new store opened and is less than a block away facing Western Avenue. Both stores shared the same parking lot.
The two-level 119,000 square foot Carson’s reflects a new store design, which is unique to any other store in the company, according to Carson’s officials. The exterior has large open windows to allow natural light to enter. The architecture is framed with a red band, Carson’s signature color.
Customers had another incentive to attend the grand opening. The first 250 shoppers received a free gift card valued between $10 and $500. Large crowds were seen at Carson’s throughout the day. Evergreen Park police directed traffic in and out of Carson’s parking lot during the grand opening.
Store representatives said new updated merchandise, new brands and the addition of a big and tall for men and young contemporary plus sizes for women departments will be featured at Carson’s. A newly designed cosmetics session is featured on the first floor. During the grand opening, a series of complimentary consultations were offered. Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing and the former social secretary for President Obama, provided make up lessons for Fashion Fair Cosmetics during the grand opening.
Carson’s was also celebrating its grand opening with the company’s Goodwill Sale. Customers can bring gently used apparel donations to the store through Saturday, Oct. 1 to support Goodwill’s mission of providing job services and training in the community. Customers will in turn receive coupons and discounts.
Fashion TV personality Giuliana Rancic will appear at Carson’s from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 in the celebrity fragrance department.
Hojnacki said that along with name brands, items that appeal at a local level will be on sale at Carson’s. She pointed to a display on the first floor that featured products with Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood written on them, and Cubs and White Sox memorabilia.
Sexton said he was not certain when the old Carson’s, which opened as a main anchor of The Plaza in 1963, will be leveled. But he did say construction target dates for other retails shops and restaurants are on schedule.
Next door to the new Carson’s will be a DSW, a Petco, Five Below, T.J. Max, Ulta, Rally House, 365 by Whole Foods Market, Carter Oshkosh and Dress Barn. A Dick’s Sporting Goods Store will round out these series of stores.
“The response was great,” said Sexton about Carson’s first day. “I went back a couple of times and the parking lot was filled each time.”
Pat King, a resident of Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, was pleased with what she saw of the new Carson’s.
“It’s wonderful,” said King. “We really needed this in the area. I definitely will be back.”
Ikie Jackson, of Chicago’s Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, was impressed with the new Carson’s after completing her shopping
“It’s a beautiful edifice. I really like the cosmetics session. They have large lettering that really helps us seniors,” said Jackson, 75.
And would Jackson make a return visit to Carson’s?
“Sure I will,” she said. “You can count on it.”