Venture capitalist Shane Christensen and Bill Colaianni, a former Walmart executive, plan to launch a new children’s retail concept called Wonder! in Chicago. The first 135,000-square-foot store, located in a former Great Indoors property in Deerfield, Ill. and expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2010, will include 85,000 square feet of selling space, party rooms, an indoor park, restaurant and coffee shop.
The store will cater to children ages 0-7 with merchandise including clothing, strollers, diapers and toys. “It was our thinking that in down times people will still spend money on children’s needs,” Colaianni told GlobeSt.com. “Also, if you look at the statistics, live birth rates were up 1.2 percent each year in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The potential customer base is growing at a rapid rate.”
Christensen and Colaianni plan to open 19 Wonder stores in five years and up to 120 stores nationwide. “The design will be more tasteful than just primary colors,” Colaianni says. “We want to speak to the parent and make this a good experience.”
The first location in Deerfield is being sub-leased from Sears Holdings. The company says it has raised $4 million to start the chain and secured funding for the first location. It expects it needs another $10 million for four additional stores by 2013.