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Tom Thumb Hobbies & Crafts is leaving Evanston after nearly a half century in business here.

Co-owner Cheryl Anderson says the store, at 1026 Davis St., will move to a new location in Niles later this summer.

Anderson says her co-owner, Arthur Harris, launched the shop back in 1965 and that Evanston has changed a lot since then.

She says that starting next week the store will be holding a 50-percent-off sale to clear out its inventory in preparation for the move. She says the shutdown of the Evanston store is expected to happen by the end of July.

Long-time Evanston restaurateur Daniel Kelch has submitted a zoning analysis request to the city that proposes tearing down the existing building on the site and replacing it with a new two-story structure.

The city’s community development director, Mark Muenzer, says the proposal calls for two 2,500-square foot spaces for restaurants on the first floor.

The second floor space, he says, would primarily be used as an outdoor dining deck for the restaurants and private event space, with the upper story set back 30 feet from the street.

Kelch closed his LuLu’s Asian fusion restaurant at 804 Davis St. in January. His other restaurant, Taco Diablo, just across the street from Tom Thumb at 1029 Davis, was destroyed by fire in December.

Muenzer says Taco Diablo is identified as one of the restaurants planned for the Tom Thumb space, with the other as yet unnamed.

Muenzer said city staff hasn’t processed Kelch’s application yet, but he anticipates it may need parking and setback variances.

Cook County Recorder of Deeds records indicate that Harris and Anderson have owned the property through the Aquarius V Corporation since 1986.

Three years ago plans were announced to redevelop the Tom Thumb property as a music venue called The Grace. After winning city zoning approval, those plans fell through after the would-be developer was unable to obtain financing.

Update 6/6/14: Harris and Anderson’s Aquarius V Corporation sold the building on May 28 to 1026 Davis St. LLC, an entity controlled by Martin Cless of 2525 Lincoln St.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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9 Comments

  1. Tom Thumb moving

    The move must have come right on the time for the restaurants that were destroyed by fire. Hopes it doesn't happen with the new structure. Seems like everything kid friendly is leaving Evanston.

    1. Tom Thomb is a blessing for the NorthShore Youth

      This was a corner stone for Evanston and has been for many years! I am to believe as a business owner taxes had a lot to do with this business moving! Evanston and the city has pushed a lot of the corner stones of businesses, Families and people as a whole to furnish not as it's original melting pot of people anymore! Evanston has developed and changed to provide for Northwestern and the wealthy! Slowly small original businesses are disappearing from Evanston and so are the people! Evanston is seen as a white collar aka yuppie north shore town with change of apartments to Condo's not affordable by many blue collar people and families! Born and raised in Evanston this was one of the best City's I have ever been too but now and I shrugg and frown as I walk around because it is no longer a melting pot of original founding families that built this city! But it is New University wealth of knocking down Historical buildings to make more restaurants and is really needed! Idea for all, How about keeping Tom Thumb and support others as such to provide for it's youth and build a stronger family oriented community of a strong melting pot of colors and back ground of people as it it was founded on that will promote scholarship, education of crafts and skills to improve life and happiness for its people! This is not the town I am from as it is a major disappointment to see Tom Thumb leave as This is and was a part of a major character build for my person and everyone I grew up with!  Exercising with Skate boarding, detailed art work with airbrushing, multiple bead work with family, Car/airplane model building, Racing cars on one of the biggest race tracks on America, along with meeting some of the best people ever that created new to be old real friends and employees of Tom Thumb! Much respect to C. Anderson and Old school Glenn! Boomer Johnson

      1. Business wasn’t booming

        My guess is the business was no longer working for them and the land offer was too good to pass up. Things change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse but change is inevitable. Let's be realistic here – there just aren't the kids to support such a business anymore – if there were, then they would stay.  I love Tom Thumb and still buy things there but am not surprised about the move.

        Oh, for the good ole days when we had Chandlers and Smithfields and Anderson Ford on Chicago Avenue.How about Doctor Wax, or Cap'n Nemos? I wonder if anyone misses them?

        As far as an historical building – what maybe early 60's construction? I wonder what historical property was razed to make way for Tom Thumb?

        Given Dan's experience with being a successful businessman and the continuing trend to Evanston as the place to eat on the North Shore, I'm all for it.

  2. Because Evanston needs more restaurants

    I don't suppose we could have diverse businesses could we? Or is it sufficient that the cuisines served at our numerous restaurants are diverse?

    1. Food is the new manufacturing

      You've obviously not noticed that dining and food-related businesses are where the jobs are happening. It is symbollically fitting that the rotunda of the old State National Bank building is now…a restaurant.

  3. City Of Sell-out

    Once again our City Council has let an icon establishment of the community prepare to pack up and leave .We ask ourselves for what? for another restaurant, I remember as a kid going to Tom Thumb to race my slot cars, kept me out of a lot of trouble.Our City Council has basically whored themselves out to private developers and The University.All I see now is a mass exodus of citizens leaving this community , vacant homes , and an increasing crime problem.Ooops that's right they don't see this because they sit in thier cushy little coucil chambers and only venture out when there's a photo -op. Now I see why my parent's sold thier home and left this Sell-Out Community.

    1. It’s a free country

      The owners of Tom Thumb are free to move their business anywhere they want and sell their building to whomever they choose.

      Your comment suggests you believe the City Council should have the power to enslave people. Fortunately, they do not.

      And, by the way, Evanston's population is growing, not shrinking.

      — Bill

      1. Its 2014

        I too spent much of my youth and money at Tom Thumb… in 1967. The store has been collecting dust for decades. I am surprised that its still around. There is vert little they offer that cannot be found at other big box stores or the internet. While they were pioneers in the slot car and skateboard specialties, young people have moved on from those interests. This change has nothing to do with elected officials or city planners… businesses come and go. Get over it.

  4. Sounds Good to Me

    I went into Tom Thumb this past January to find drawing/drafting materials (pencils, erasers, sketch paper) with the goal of supporting a community institution.  I found the store to be poorly organized, poorly lit, and to offer poor service.  I could not find what I wanted and I went to Dick Blick on Sherman.  I quickly found a wide selection of what I was looking for, and I had very friendly service there.  

    Let Tom Thumb leave so we can get a better business on busy Davis street!

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