Marketed as “the first-of-its-kind children’s retailer,” Wonder is set to open its flagship store this November, providing the world’s largest collection of young children’s products and services under one roof. Based in Deerfield, IL, the 135,000-square-foot store focuses on children ages birth to seven and offers a wide assortment of brand name, value-priced children’s basics and consumables that includes everything from apparel and shoes to toys, electronics and furniture, as well as unique, high-quality specialty and boutique merchandise.
Wonder founder and chairman is entrepreneur and father of two Shane Christensen, who developed the concept upon recognizing a hole in the marketplace. Tired of having to travel to multiple destinations to meet his family’s daily needs, he evaluated the current children’s retail environment and found that the existing model was fragmented throughout a variety of retails channels – boutiques, specialty chains, mass merchants, and play and party. His solution is to create a single destination and one-stop shopping solution for all of a parent’s needs.
Focused on something the new company calls a Passion for Parents™ philosophy, Wonder also features a 21,000 square-foot indoor park as well as party areas and a restaurant, coffee bar and bakery allowing kids to play while parents shop – and enjoy some adult time, too. Admission to Wonder’s play area is based on a membership model. Wonder currently employs seven people; management is hoping to launch 19 stores in the next five years.
Taking an eco-friendly and cost-effective approach to the flagship store’s development, Wonder is renovating an existing big box retail space using recycled and repurposed materials and fixtures, hiring Gensler to design the store’s interior and exterior, with the goal to create a retail icon that can become a case study for a cost-effective and sustainable design.
The vision of Wonder has attracted a talented group of former c-suite retail executives including Bill Colaianni, former Walmart chief marketing and merchandising officer for Central America, and former president and chief executive officer of VTech Industries Rick Mazursky.
“I’m truly excited by the Wonder concept,” Bill says, who is now Wonder’s president and CEO. “It’s a great opportunity for me to use 35 years of consumer marketing, retail and general management experience from some of the world’s biggest companies to build something new and exciting.”
Bill also mentions that he thinks it’s an ideal time to launch the new children’s retail concept because spending on children in this age group is largely “recession-proof” – plus, the state of the commercial real estate market allows for acquiring great properties at very reasonable prices.