Wilmette, Community

‘Haven’t seen this many cars for years’: Wayfair’s grand opening spectacle packs Edens Plaza

The new life meant to revive Edens Plaza was on full display Thursday morning as hundreds of eager customers waited in line for the grand opening of the first-ever Wayfair storefront.

The anchor space left empty for years had a new wave of excitement — and purple — on May 23, when the long-awaited opening brought in shoppers from across Chicagoland to check out the store and take advantage of discounts and prizes.

By the time of the ribbon-cutting at 9:30 a.m., the line had wrapped around the building and overflow parking had opened across the street. Between the DJ, free Wayfair swag and a magician, the scene was hopping and many guests matched the energy. 

Magician Brielle Kawalek (Magic by Brielle) works through a trick with Larry Pike, of Chicago, in the line at Wayfair’s grand opening.

Robinn Jerutis, of Wilmette, was in line, and she reflected on the nearly full parking lot and the chance to see a transformed Edens Plaza.

“It’s really nice to see this parking lot so full,” Jerutis said. “I haven’t seen this many cars for years. I’m really excited for Wilmette because I think it’s about time. This place needs to be filled.” 

Prior to the doors opening, a round of speakers — including Wayfair’s co-founders — addressed the crowd and numerous media outlets.

With her turn with the microphone, Wilmette President Senta Plunkett shared her enthusiasm about Wayfair and the economic boost that will come with it. 

“Wayfair is poised to become the major economic engine that takes our community to the next level,” Plunkett told the crowd. “We’re thrilled for the 200-plus new jobs that have been created and the thousands of visitors that will come and visit our special community.”

Wilmette Village President Senta Plunkett praises Wayfair’s arrival on Thursday.

Beyond jobs, tax revenue and new visitors, Wayfair has also committed to making a $100,000 donation to Connections for the Homeless, a nonprofit organization in Evanston. Niraj Shah, CEO and co-chairman of Wayfair said that the partnership is a part of the company’s effort to prioritize supporting the homeless community.

Originally announced in Jan. 2022, Wilmette residents and businesses have been eagerly awaiting the grand opening of the 150,000 square feet, two story building. The store features 19 departments, in-store experts and a new restaurant, The Porch.

The overwhelming enthusiasm for the opening was marked by customers eager to get a hands-on shopping experience with Wayfair.

Melissa Kaufman, of Vernon Hills, arrived at 5:30 a.m., nearly four hours before the ribbon cutting ceremony. She secured her spot as first in line along with the $50 gift card that will be given to the first 100 people/families in line every day through Memorial Day.

Some of Wayfair’s first customers browse the store’s products on its opening day.

Kaufman had never shopped in Wayfair’s online store prior to Thursday but was looking forward to browsing, searching for a lounge chair and getting to shop in person. 

“I like to see things in person, I don’t want to order all the time online, and I like that they do free shipping,” Kaufman said.

Her sentiment was echoed by many customers.

Since its opening in 2002, Wayfair has become an online-retail giant. For frequent Wayfair shoppers like Chicago resident Larry Pike, this storefront has been long awaited.

“I’ve been looking forward to it,” Pike said. “I know it’s their first store, and I do shopping online, but I’m a hands-on type of person. I like to see things before I buy them, size them up, look at them and I find that more beneficial than just buying online.”

Wayfair’s Cee L. helps a customer check out on May 23.

Between a vitalized Edens Plaza and a new shopping experience, Wayfair has made a purple splash in Wilmette.

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