Now is your chance to become an urban planner, retail guru, and economic prognosticator all rolled into one. You just need an idea.

Downtown Evanston, the marketing agency, is putting bright yellow posters in the windows of several vacant downtown stores, asking “Got A Bright Idea?” If so, then “share your thoughts on what should go here.”

Three of the posters are currently up, with more to come. The former Williams Shoe Store has one already. Among others to get them soon are the former GNC space on Davis, and the former Bottle and Bottega, also on Davis.

Annie Coakley, executive director of Downtown Evanston, says the goal is to learn what the community wants to see and concentrate efforts on those ideas.

Coakley says that years ago, she used to walk around community events or take lunchtime strolls, carrying a chalkboard “comment bubble” for people to write what they’d like to see downtown.

“I would then use the photos and reach out to companies,” she says, “and share that we had interest in their concept/store in Evanston.” It was a “slightly grassroots way of business attraction.”

The posters, Coakley says, are a COVID version of the same effort. Plus, they are more high tech than a chalkboard. There is a QR code on each poster which someone reading can scan and send in ideas.

Or, you can also email your ideas to

Just make sure they’re bright

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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