Wayfair’s first-ever physical store arrives in Chicago suburb

The e-commerce home furniture retailer opens the doors on its Wilmette store.

Isaiah Reynolds
Written by
Isaiah Reynolds
Assistant Editor
wayfair warehouse
Photograph: Isaiah Reynolds for Time Out

Chicagoland shoppers: Get ready to furniture shop until you drop.

Wayfair, the popular online furniture retailer, has opened its first-ever physical retail store in the suburb of Wilmette. 

The 150,000 square foot, two-floor store occupies the old Carson Pirie Scott & Co. building in Edens Plaza (3232 Lake Avenue) that shuttered in 2018.

“Chicago is a very, very strong market for us,” said Adam Katz, Wayfair’s Global Head of Physical Retail. “It’s a strong customer mix for us. We are very family oriented and community oriented and we know that there’s a very vibrant community and family feel not only in Wilmette, but in the broader area here.”

As a “one-stop destination for all things home,” the space will house over thousands of furniture pieces, home decor, storage and appliances.

Photograph: Isaiah Reynolds for Time Out
wayfair interior
Photograph: Isaiah Reynolds for Time Out

Since 2002, the retailer has been a online-only home furniture retailer. After years of market research, Wayfair strategists carefully examined ways to translate the typical (and beloved) digital experience for their customers into physical retail. Finding great success as an e-commerce retailer, the home furniture company is pulling out all the stops to lure new and loyal customers alike to the Wilmette warehouse while still maintaining a strong omnichannel presence.

“We want to empower our customers, regardless of where they’re shopping,” said Katz. “Because this category is harder than groceries or other categories where you buy it every week—you know what you’re looking for. You’re buying a sofa once every five to ten years; you don’t know exactly what questions to ask. We want to make that easy for you.”

New and revolutionizing services include an in-store design consultation service. Shoppers can book an appointment through the Wayfair app to speak directly with one of the skilled designers about everything from new wall colors to the right accent chair. More perks like custom upholstery, running shower heads and appliance test kitchens are also sure to captivate customers. 

wayfair, wilmette
Photograph: Isaiah Reynolds for Time Out

Shoppers have three options while shopping: Grab items as they browse the physical retail store, scan products to be picked up at checkout or order for free delivery.

Across nineteen departments, Wayfair meticulously curated elaborate “vignettes”—in-store imaginations from designers of what products and designs could look like in shoppers' homes. From faucets (which are testable with running water), refrigerators, shower drains, wall art and wallpaper, nearly all products in the store are available for purchase.

“The vignettes make a way for the brand to come to life in a visual, tactile and fun way,” said Liza Lefkowski, Vice President of Wayfair’s Merchandising.

Another part of the in-store experience is a new restaurant concept, The Porch. Wayfair partnered with culinary consultants from the Culinary Edge to develop both an in-house eating experience that meets customer needs as well as a menu for every shopper type.

the porch interior
Photograph: Courtesy of Wayfair

“What we found is, generally speaking, you don't want customers to be hungry or thirsty,” said Katz. “There may be customers that are here for several hours and they need a break. And then we designed it in a way that was integrated into the broader store experience.”

With on-the-go shoppers in mind, the menu is filled with handhelds like a triple grilled cheese and a chipotle grilled chicken melt. For those looking to refuel after an arduous day of shopping, they can unwind with the Porch’s charcuterie board, a pint of draft beer or a glass of wine. And guests can, of course, shop while sipping on any of The Porch’s white, red or sparkling wine selections.

The Porch diners are not obligated to purchase Wayfair merchandise, opening the multi-use space up to community appeal.

Wayfair’s grand opening is Thursday, May 23 at 10am with family-friendly events and special deals for the first 100 families in line through Memorial Day. The Wayfair warehouse will be open Monday through Saturday from 10am-8pm and Sundays from 11am-7pm.

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