City officials returned this week to the perennial topic of what kind of businesses they should try to attract to Evanston. Here’s a look at what the real estate industry thinks we’re light and heavy on in the retail space.

Howard Handler of the Illinois Association of Realtors shared data from Realtors Property Resource that indicates what types of retail businesses a community has “too many” or “not enough” of.

We looked at data for Evanston, and compared it to the same data for two nearby communities — Skokie and Glenview.




The charts, the report explains, show the types of businesses that consumers are leaving an area to find. The business types represented by blue bars are relatively scarce in the area, so consumers go elsewhere to have their needs met. The orange business types are relatively plentiful in the area, meaning, for people considering starting a new business of those types, that there are existing competitors in the community for the dollars that consumers spend in these categories.

One caveat: The data is the latest available, but it’s from 2012, so a few things may have changed in the interim.

At a glance you can see that Evanston is under-supplied with 19 of the 31 categories of businesses, while Skokie has shortfalls in only 16. But Glenview is short on 23 of those categories.

And the data suggests that while we have somewhat more than our share of full-service restaurants, we’re undersupplied with fast food ones, while Skokie has a surplus of both types and Glenview is notably short on fast-food joints.

Evanston — perhaps as a result of being a college town — is top of the stack in the book/periodical/music stores, while Skokie is somewhat less heavy on them and Glenview is way short on such shops.

If you can read the small print, you can probably find other interesting comparisons yourself

Related story

Too many restaurants in Evanston? (2/26/15)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Is this analysis relevant?
    Communities differ. If Evanston officials want to attract new businesses, they should look to find out where Evanstonians are going elsewhere to buy and why.

    1. Where do Evanstonians shop

      Old Orchard, Lincolnwood Town Center (soon the Touhy strip being built), I don't think spending millions of dollars on the Dempster/Dodge will will solve much.

      1. What everyone needs

        I find some of the suggestion about what we have too much and too little of, rather odd.  I can only guess those who think we have too much of some of these things, must shop outside of Evanston and thus not miss those businesses.

        However we do need a substantial number of businesses that meet the needs of resident [and draw in others] instead of them going to Skokie, Chicago, Woodfield, Golf Mill, etc..

        Residents  and the Council complain about poverty, homelessness, lack of opportunity, yet these same people want to keep almost every new [esp. large] business/hotel, etc. out.  They seem to prefer Evanston as a quaint bedroom community as they must think of in the 1940-50s.  Yet then in their 'liberal' moments rail against, poverty, homelessness, discrimination, lack of  jobs, lack of opportunity.  They will have to make their mind-up but so far they seem to want the 'artsy' business instead of businesses with jobs.

    2. Obviously we need more auto dealers

      We "only" have  Mazda, VW, Nissan and Fiat Dealers.

      In order to adequetely serve the needs of Evanston's residents we obviously need GM dealers, Chrysler dealers (or is that Fiat now?) Toyota, BMW, Lexus, Tesla, Mercedes, Kia, Hyundai….at least according to that report.  Don't forget to give all these new dealers the same tax breaks that Autobarn gets.  And more Used Car lots all over the place too.   Take a drive down Western Ave in Chicago.  They got it right.  That could be Evanston!

      and of course we need a LOT more gas stations.  I think one every few blocks would do.  Each one could have a KFC/Baskin Robbins/Burger King/Wendy's combo inside as well.  That's what we need.  For Evanston shopping to be the equivalent of a major exit off of a highway.


  2. Rooftops

    A comparison of these three communities as far as what each has or does not have is irrelevant.  Each has pros and cons and each has its unique challenges.

    Just because Skokie has more fast food, does not mean that evanston should have more fast food.  (Skokie has more fast food because it has higher traffic counts on more roadways.)

    However, the simple truth is that if we want more retail in our downtown, of any kind, we need more residential density in our downtown.  Build up our base of expendable income and we won't have as many problems with retailers failing.  

  3. Indoor Sports facility and Sporting Goods stores

         I guess Indoor Sports Facility ain't on a typical "do we need some number of these" list, but I sure hope we LOVE having one at Oakton and McCormick! (hope to open on/about Nov 1 –

         Also, I was glad to see "Sports" mentioned, but sad to see it lumped in with "Sports/Hobby/Musical Instrument Stores".  We REALLY could use a decent Sporting Goods Store. (I miss the TLFritts that was on Davis near Chicago Ave (1990's) – how 'bout in the empty lot north of Oakton, West of Home Depot directly across from the Subway/Shell Station/Gordon Foods??…anybody??

    1. Bowling Alley ?

      I know NU students have suggested one on campus various times but so far nothing.

      There have been comments about one in Evanston [there use to be one at Howard and Clark] but as far as I know no one has made a proposal.  I suspect the Council and the liberal upper class would consider it too "Joe Six-pack" [though Wilmette has one] of an idea and march against it—no matter how many jobs—esp. for teens—it would bring in..

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