Photo by Joe Boyle
Holiday decorations can be seen throughout the first floor of the new Carson’s in Evergreen Park. The new company is presently operating on the first floor but plans to add more merchandise soon.
By Joe Boyle
The new Carson’s had an impressive debut in Evergreen Park as new management said they were pleased with the turnout on Black Friday.
“The line was stretching out the door,” said Dylan Astle, chief operating officer of DirectBuy who was at the reorganized Carson’s at 9700 S. Western Ave. on Friday. “Everything was very good today. We want to attract the loyal customer base that Carson’s has always had while incorporating it with DirectBuy.”
DirectBuy, based out of Merrillville, Ind., is a subsidiary of CSC Generation, which bought the intellectual property rights to Carson’s at the end of August and listed it on their website. CSC Generation, led by CEO Justin Yoshimura, 28, had a representative from DirectBuy meet with Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton to tell him that besides operating Carson’s online, they wanted to reopen the iconic store for half the week as a brick-and-mortar operation.
Sexton, initially surprised at the offer, gave the new management the green light.
“I just told them they had better hurry and stock the shelves if they wanted to open by Thanksgiving,” Sexton said.
Carson’s, after opening in September 2016 as the anchor for the new version of the outdoor Evergreen Plaza, was one of several retailers owned by Bon-Ton Stores, which declared bankruptcy in February. Sexton then received the stunning news two months later that Bon-Ton would cease operating after the company ended up in bankruptcy court when no buyer came forward.
Bon-Ton’s bankruptcy also resulted in the closing of Carson’s at the Chicago Ridge Mall and the Orland Square Mall.
Sexton and the owners of the new Plaza were working on attracting other retailers to the state-of-the art building when they heard of CSC Generation purchasing the rights to Carson’s.
Shoppers that arrived at Carson’s on Friday were introduced to familiar brand names and some sporting goods. Currently, half the first floor is open while the other half of the lower level is behind a black curtain.
“In the next 90 days, we will blow the curtain away,” said Astle. “We put this together rather quickly, in just over three weeks. We have done a lot in a short time.”
When Carson’s opened at 7 a.m. Friday, the first 100 customers received large discounts. Some of the customers who had shopped at Carson’s said they were glad that the iconic store that has a 162-year history in the Chicago area has returned.
But one woman who was with her husband and children and preferred not to give her name was disappointed that they will not accept the old Carson’s credit cards. She was assured that a lot of changes are expected.
“I guess we will just have to wait and see,” she said.
Despite some skepticism by some shoppers, Astle said the opening day was just what management hoped it would be.
“The reaction has been phenomenal,” Astle said. “In the first two hours, we had over 1,000 people come in. We are working with a lot of other companies and divisions to make this happen.”
The current company that runs Carson’s will be under Bon-Ton Holdings. But shoppers can receive information about the new Carson’s, including credit card details and merchandise, at carsons.com or by calling (800) 526-5734 seven days a week.
Sexton made the rounds to several stores on Black Friday, including Carson’s.
“I think they followed the script pretty well.” Sexton said. “I think they are getting their feet on the ground right now. But in the next three weeks, you are going to see a lot of merchandise in there. I’m very pleased overall. Actually, the whole Plaza strip seemed to be doing very well. TJ Maxx also had long lines.”
Astle was not certain if Carson’s would occupy the second floor of the building in Evergreen Park that is 120,470 square feet. He said future locations that could be in operation in 2019 will be smaller in size.
He was also pleased with the reception they have received in Evergreen Park.
“They have been very receptive,” Astle said. “Mayor Sexton has been awesome.”
The online operation of Carson’s in Evergreen Park, which will take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, is an important aspect of the company. According to the sign at the front door of the new Carson’s, it will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays and Mondays.
“Our online service will lead the way,” Astle said. “We want to work with customers that have been so loyal to Carson’s.”
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