Wayfair Is Coming to Chicago in 2023… Big-time

Photo by Chait Goli on Pexels.com

Even as Wayfair plans to open modest size stores for some of its sub-brands later this year, the big online seller is planning a monster store under its flagship Wayfair nameplate in 2023.

According to The Record North Shore, an online newsletter based in Wilmette, IL, Wayfair “received final approval … from the (Wilmette) Village Board” earlier this week after being approved last month by the village’s Appearance and Review Commission.

The press report indicates the store is expected to open in the second half of 2023 in the Edens Plaza development in Wilmette, a suburb about half an hour north of Chicago. It will be located in a 150,000-square-foot building that was previously a Carson Pirie Scott, the department store chain that closed in 2018 and that has been vacant since. An artist’s rendering accompanying The Record story shows a two-story building clad in Wayfair’s signature purple and white color scheme.

Vendors who sell Wayfair but have asked not to be identified confirmed that the online retailer is talking to them about its plans for the new store and there have also been hints on the company’s most recent earnings call about the project. Wayfair did not respond to inquiries for comment for this story.

Opening physical stores, something Wayfair has dabbled in over the past few years, is a critical next step for the giant home furnishings e-tailer as its tries to move beyond its online-only selling strategy. It operated a small store near its Boston-area headquarters but closed it in December 2020 after only about 18 months in operation. It has also operated a close-out store next to an Ohio distribution center and has had some pop-up locations as well but this new initiative marks a new phase in its efforts to get into the physical store channel of home furnishings.

In late 2021, the company announced it would be opening three smaller stores in the Boston area for two of its brands, AllModern and Joss & Main, without giving any specific dates beyond 2022. At the time it said, “The company’s three new stores launching in 2022 will be followed by additional stores across the entire Wayfair family of brands, including larger store formats for Wayfair and Perigold.”

Karen McKibbin, head of physical retail for Wayfair, said as part of that announcement, “We are focused on building a premier portfolio of specialty concepts, helping all of our customers find the home solutions that are just right for them. We look forward to unveiling the next evolution of our specialty retail brands through this exciting new channel.”

The Wayfair brand store would represent a major effort into the physical retailing space, giving it the size and scale that would allow it to compete against both traditional furniture dealers such as RoomsToGo and Ikea as well as local and regional players in the Chicagoland market.

With omnichannel formats increasingly the choice for retailers, whether they come from the in-store or online sides of the business, the Wayfair projected openings are a must for it to move beyond its digital-only presence. Still, it’s going to take many, many physical locations for the company to truly be a player on the store side.

But at least it’s finally getting started.

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