WICKER PARK — Confirming rumors swirling over the summer, TOMS Shoes will be making its entry into Wicker Park and taking over the shuttered Caribou Coffee storefront, offering shoes as well as a cafe just in time for Thanksgiving, the store announced Thursday.
"We sought out markets that we feel are hip and upcoming and represent community, that have TOMS type of people," said Rick Badgley, vice president of retail talent for TOMS Shoes, which will open its first dedicated Midwest storefront at 1611 N. Damen Ave.
Alisa Hauser says this will be the first dedicated TOMS location in the Midwest:
On Thursday, Badgley was in the neighborhood conducting interviews for the new TOMS Shoes, which will also offer an in-store cafe using coffee from TOMS Roasting Co., Badgley said.
"There will be full seating and free Wi-Fi. We're creating a hangout space," Badgley said of the 2,000-square-foot storefront, just north of the Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection.
The cafe will serve hot and cold coffee and tea as well as pastries and juices, the latter two items Badgley said he is hoping to get from local vendors.
A West Coast-based retailer that donates one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold, TOMS is planning to open the Wicker Park location by mid-November, Badgley said.
Known for its rubber-soled canvas shoes with square toes, the TOMS brand is sold at several Chicago retailers, including Akira and Hanig's Footwear, as well as Downtown department stores and Whole Foods.
The dedicated TOMS shop will offer 100 styles of shoes, plus eyewear and branded apparel, Badgley said.
Badgley said the neighborhood was selected for the chain's first Midwest entry because of a strong existing customer base.
"I have seen 10 people today wearing TOMS without even looking," said Badgley, who was wearing a pair of TOMS too.
The retailer also sees a strong Facebook presence for TOMS as well as online sales in Wicker Park and Bucktown.
And Badgley said he believes a dedicated TOMS shop will accelerate sales at nearby independent boutiques, rather than harm those other retailers already selling the shoes.
On Wednesday, employment listings for an assistant manager, store manager, and cafe manager for the new TOMS shop appeared on Craigslist.
In addition to Wicker Park, TOMS has also signed leases for new shops in Portland, Oregon, and Manhattan in New York City, Badgley said.
View all of TOMS Shoes local job listings on snagajob.
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