Goodwill Industries plans to open a resale shop and donation center in the Evanston Plaza shopping center in the space formerly occupied by an A.J. Wright store.

A special use request for the resale store will be reviewed by the city’s Design and Project Review committee this afternoon.

According to plans submitted to the city, the 18,440 square foot store would include a 10,532 square foot sales floor, a 6,161 square foot back-of-house area for storage, loading, donations and production, plus an enclosed 1,741 square foot loading dock.

Goodwill says it operates 63 stores and donation centers in southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois.

The company says it has 1.4 million loyalty club members in the region, including 4,200 in the Evanston area and says its sales have recently grown faster than those of discount retailers like Walmart, Target and Family Dollar.

It says the store will employ 40 to 50 people in part- or full-time jobs with about 15 people on site at a time.

An aerial view, with west at the top, showing the planned path for customer cars through the donation area on the west side of the store.

The A.J. Wright discount retail store in the plaza closed in 2010 as part of a nationwide phase-out of the brand by its owner, TJX Companies.

Despite efforts at the time by city officials to persuade TXJ to replace it with its more upscale upscale HomeGoods concept, the space has remained vacant ever since.

The deal with Goodwill is part of the effort by the center’s new owners, who also operate the Valli supermarket in the plaza, to lease up the many vacant storefronts on the property.

Following review by the DAPR committee this afternoon, the plans will also require review by the Zoning Board of Appeals before a final decision on whether to approve the store is made by the City Council.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Ugh

    At the risk of sounding like the “Original Evanston NIMBY”, I hate the idea of having a Goodwill in Evanston Plaza!  There I admitted it, I’m a NIMBY!   Just when it seemed like things were on the up and up for the neighborhood (Temperance, Vali and a Starbucks to boot) we take 3 steps forward and 1 step back.  I wish the owner of the mall would think outside of the box, like offering inexpensive rents to name brand merchants, rents that would rise on a graduated scale or rents that were tied to sales.  They should try to give incentive for someone decent to move in or this is what we are going to get; more tier 3 tenants.

    I’d like to point out that once a giant tier 3 tenant moves in, they will never ever see a tier 1 or tier 2 tenant and the value of the mall that they paid a lot for will be worth a lot less.  So Vali, think outside the box, once you start opening Pandora’s box, you’ll never be able to close it.

    1. Both of these arguments are
      Both of these arguments are terribly classist and disgusting. How dare anyone say that their shopping mall be invaded by poors and therefore drive down value. Absolutely vile, and sadly, totally predictable. Maybe a Jared’s would make you happier.

      1. What is disgusting?

        I hardly think "classist" and "disgusting" are the right the words for someone objecting to a Goodwill going into Evanston Plaza. 

        As a middle class person struggling to get by, I have a stake in this neighborhood; maybe unlike you I can be honest and say, I like to see my property value go up. I also have enjoyed that the neighborhood strip mall I frequent has become a better shopping experience.

        How silly is it to think that, Starbucks, Vali and Temperance are elitist places… 

        Would it be better a scrap metal recycling plant or a methadone clinic move in?

  2. You’ve got to be kidding!

    Are you kidding?  Please!  Just when we thought this shopping corridor was experiencing a renaissance, you bring in a Goodwill?  Is that the best the city can do?   For the love of God, please attract a better establishment than a Goodwill.   Panera?  Chipotle? Five Guys?   Famous footwear? Ross?

    This is just what our neighborhood does not need, people dropping off clothes in front of this business, homeless and other opportunists loitering and stealing dropped off items.

    This is not the blueprint we envisioned and I will work like hell to make sure the alderperson is held accountable for this horrible decision.  Alderman Braithwaite, do not let this stand!

    1. Braithwaite
      Wanna bet his kids will be shopping there? It’s a blast going in to store like this. I have resale places near my home…NO problems….FUN to visit. Sorry you didn’t have input on the “special” blueprint. I currently have in my closet, beautiful clothes from Chicos, 3 blue jean jackets…Jones of New York, Old Navy, and Lord & Taylor. I never paid more than $7.00 for any of them, and they look brand new. Sorry you sound snobby. BTW….I have housewares from Crate & Barrel, Sur La Table, Pyrex, Macy’s, etc…..Nothing over $2.00. My buddies and I are having fun…..YOU, on the other hand, are just complaining.

      1. fun At Goodwill
        I’m with you. Just washed a beautiful Nordstoms blouse that I bought in La Jolla Goodwill for $7. This is located near the beach where we live for 3 months every winter. Will be able to stop at this Goodwill on my way home from riding my horse stabled in the Forest Preserve. I can shop anywhere I want, but nothing beats the thrill of the hunt at Goodwill.

  3. Unfortunate decision.

    As a home owner in this neighborhood, I'd be lying if I said this wasn't a disappointment.  I understand this plaza has been a challenge to fill, and I know some tenant is better than empty store fronts.  But a plaza that boasts a Goodwill, a Dollar Store, and a Dialysis Center certainly isn't going to bring any new customers to the area or be additive to the community (good paying jobs, community events, programs, etc).  Unfortunately, this will end up hurting Valli's business and likely send this plaza back into a further downward spiral.  I only hope the wonderful Dance Center of Evanston, Play it Again Sports, and Panino's aren't scared off by the direction this plaza has gone.

    This corner will continue to be an epicenter of fast food, check cashing, and low-end chains….What a drag!

    1. Here we go again!

      As another neighbor just down the street I am troubled by a Goodwill for many of the same reasons. AJ Wright was the beginning of the decline on the last go around. It attracted a clientele that was prone to fighting, stealing and scary behavior. The quality of the merchandise was questionable in many cases and the store was always a mess despite some hard working souls. Never sufficiently  staffed. Wonder if the police records could substaniate the increased crime when they were around. A clothing store down the way and a chidren's resale shop both felt the effects of questionable customers, theft  and lack of patrolling.  Sort of TJ Maxx's poor cousin if you ask me.Having lived down the street for 30 years, long enough to remember when this was developed 2 times ago with a TOYS are US and and Kids Are Us, the element that is attracted by Goodwill is one thing. I love re-sale and the idea of  recycling, but Goodwill is a substandard operation that barely pays its staff, masquerades as if they are helping the handicapped and actually is a for profict organization. Check out Charity Navigator to see what they pay an executive director as opposed to hourly wage workers.

      Let's see a GAP outlet, ROSS, Nordstrom Rack, 5Below, Carter's,  Old Navy, Eddie Bauer outlet….lots of good possibilities for this mall.  We need another family restaurant in Evanston. This area should have a storefront library. 



  4. Goodwill = Good Move!

    I've been in the neighborhood 45 years. This store is badly needed in the community. Goodwill offers good stuff at cheap prices. Also, since the Salvation Army store closed, there is nowhere nearby accepting large donations. ORT is always overstuffed, they throw away donations out back.

    All you snobs should check your sense of privilege. Evanston has a long tradition of being a diverse community, welcoming those of all socioeconomic status. This is a real business, which not only benefits the poor (and just plain thrifty) folks who shop there, but also will provide jobs, and support an organization that provides opportunities to many disabled indiciduals. 


    1. Goodwill

      I am thrilled that Goodwill will be joining our neighborhood. It will in no way detract from our community and will benefit so many! We have so much and need to be recycling and reusing and a resale store is the best way to help get that happening. Stop buying NEW everything and see what treasures can be found at these places. Donate and shop!

      1. It serves the masses—and that is good

        The Salvation Army store that was on Dempster and later Kedzie did not cause harm to those areas or Evanston. People still travel miles to go to Salvation Army stores.

        I can understand the Limousine Liberals don't like the idea, but there are many in Evanston — not just the hoi polloi they think everyone else is — need used materials without spending and arm and a leg.

        So let the rich buy their Hermes Ostrich purses, most of us have to make due with less — and recycle.

        1. The “limousine liberals” in

          The "limousine liberals" in this neigborhood are folk who work hard, maintain their homes and lawns and in some cases drive limos for others. Historically, a working class neighborhood.  This neighborhood has had to put up with trash from McDonald's and Burger King, trash plus not having particularly healthy options found in other neighborhoods. (Don't see those in North Evanston).  We have had to have the insult of not one but 2 payday loan/ currency exchange businesses at this busy corner and frankly, enough is enough. Great gateway to our neighborhood!

          Curt's Cafe is a welcome business as it is clean, neat and employs kids who need guidance.Ted's is a welcome part of the neighborhood tradition as are many of the small businesses in the mall.  We are just asking for some consideration before we invite the drop off mess and those who will steal what they want from Goodwill, into our neighborhood. Goodwill is not an examplary business. Check out what their CEO makes in this for profit business as opposed to what they pay workers. Not acceptable on many levels.

          1. Bad will?

            I routinely shop at Goodwill and other secondhand stores, especially so when on vacation. In Honolulu, Portland, Lax, and many other places I've found great items every time at Goodwill, and often too with a local flavor. All kinds of people shop at Goodwill, and all kinds of people donate. I've also been to a couple of the Goodwill Boutiques. Yes, those are a real and very nice spinoff to check out if you have a few extra bucks. The one thing I have never encountered (to use a prior poster's word) at a Goodwill is any "element" that would make me uncomfortable. Except for itchy sweaters. After swim lessons at Goldfish — surely a business that everyone finds classy and overpriced enough — my family will now go to Valli *and* to Goodwill.  Nice addition.      

      2. Goodwill=Good News
        Well…I visit them all the time. I am not poor. Many of my friends go with me, and it’s like being in a hidden treasure trove. I can’t tell you how many really cool items I’ve found in these stores….(Skokie, Morton Grove, et. al…)…and everything is cheaply priced! It’s also well-maintained, clean, and organized……It’s one of my favorite places to visit……I LOVE finding bargains! So, there to all of you!

    2. ORT throws out excess?

      ORT throws out excess donations? Really? I assumed they donated excess donations elsewhere. Yikes. Someone please tell me this is wrong.

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