Thinking Outside the Big Box

Who wants big-box stores in Chicago

Sure, there's the lure of finding tennis balls, a steak and a flash drive all in the same place. But there's the tacky factor. We're supposed to live in a sophisticated city. Big-box stores are an eyesore for the suburbs.

But like it or not, the boxes are moving in to busy parts of the city. Target's coming to State Street and Wal-Mart wants a piece of the West Loop. 

This is a city that takes retail seriously. People made signs and protested when Macy's gobbled up Marshall Field's. And some of them keep the fight alive online.

We may prefer Chicago-based businesses to flourish downtown, but business everywhere is crumbling. The building Target wants has been empty for four years. What's better - something, anything in that space, or a vacant building giving off a ghost town vibe?

Sure, McDonald's is lowbrow, but we have them all over the city. And they wouldn't stay open unless people ate there. No one is saying you have to shop at a big-box store. If you hate them, don't spend your money there. For a city to thrive, it needs money flowing through it. 

Maybe we'd rather have our shoppers burning cash at tiny corner boutiques. There's nothing saying that still can't happen. But new businesses mean new jobs and more revenue. 

That's a deal worth taking, even if we may not like what's on the other end of the handshake.

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