Former “Bachelorette” Jen Schefft Waterman took her daughter to WONDER!, a new children’s retail concept, for her one year birthday. Jen and Mae enjoyed shopping, reading books and playing with the toys at WONDER!
HC’s placement of this story helped drive consumer traffic to WONDER!’s website and retail store location.
Bachelorette Jen Schefft Celebrates Mae’s First Birthday
Party-planning can be a daunting task for anyone during the holidays, but this year proved busier than most for Bachelorette alum Jen Schefft, whose daughter Mae Elizabeth (with husband Joe Waterman) turned 1 on Nov. 13.
“We had a little party here at our house,” she tells PEOPLE. “It was a great day to get everyone together and celebrate her first birthday. The theme was pink with white polka dots.”
Not that Mae noticed all of the festivities going on around her; she was more interested in her gifts, including items from children’s retailer WONDER!, which recently opened right outside of Chicago.
“She just loves the wrapping paper,” Schefft, who was selected by Andrew Firestone on The Bachelor, says. “You tear off a little piece of wrapping paper for her, and she kind of goes crazy. It’s like, ‘Oh look, fun paper and a box!’ She doesn’t really necessarily even know that you have to open a box.”
And with Christmas coming up – the first time she will be properly marking the holiday – Schefft, 35, expects her daughter will feel the same way when it comes time to open presents,
“Last year it was just so hectic because she was only about 6 weeks old,” she explains. “I don’t even think we had really done much to make the house Christmas-y. This year will be our first to make it really special and big. We’re going to do all the fun Christmas things, like go get pictures taken with Santa.”
But regardless of what the family’s final plans may end up being, Schefft says her biggest priority is just ensuring she spends as much time as possible with Mae.
“I love her so much, and I can’t say enough great things about her and being a mom,” she says. “She’s a really happy baby; she’s always smiling. As much time as I spend with her, I try to make it quality time.”
As a new retailer open in time for the holidays, building buzz was extremely important. The HC team was able to secure a week-long spot on Windy City Live’s Know Your Neighbor Game where a WONDER! gift card and year-membership was the prize for the week. In addition, the team was able to secure an on-air interview for WONDER! founder Shane Christensen on Nov. 28 to introduce the store and WONDER! as the Know Your Neighbor prize for the week.
HC leveraged its long-standing relationships with Windy City Live producers to negotiate the best opportunity possible for WONDER! including multiple teases starting Friday, Nov. 18, Facebook mentions and b-roll.
New children’s store offers big concept for little shoppers Wonder promises boutique experience in warehouse-size store
When it comes to the world of shoppertainment, or the fun activities that keep shoppers lingering in a store, harried parents have had few options.
Wonder, a children’s superstore and playroom, plans to open its first outpost Saturday in Deerfield with a concept that goes against the grain of big-box retail. The fledgling retailer hopes to create a boutique mentality in a warehouse-size store where parents of young children can pick up everything they need — from Johnson’s Baby Oil to the limited edition soft pink Bugaboo stroller — in one trip.
Chairman and founder Shane Christensen, a Chicago-based entrepreneur and venture capitalist, conceived the concept two years ago when he and his wife, as new parents, discovered the stress of running errands with two small children.
He recruited major investors, including Rick Mazursky, who helped launch Cabbage Patch Kids, and Bruce Hall, who spent most of his career at Toys R Us and was most recently the president of Petco Animal Supplies Inc. And he tapped former Wal-Mart Stores executive Bill Colaianni to be his CEO.
“What we’re doing is combining all of that in one location,” said Christensen, 36. “We want to make an event around shopping. We want to bring some life and creativity back into the children’s marketplace, where there has been a void for so long.”
Wonder is leasing 135,000 square feet from Sears Holdings Corp., taking over space in a North Shore strip mall that once housed a Great Indoors home store. The store takes elements from some of the most popular destination retailers, such as Ikea, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, American Girl and Abt Electronics.
One example: Wonder built and decorated 26 rooms so shoppers can visualize what a nursery or children’s bedroom could look like, much like the layout at Swedish retailer Ikea. And similar to the indoor ponds that allow shoppers to test fishing rods at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, Wonder has an indoor track where children can test bicycles and tricycles.
There is also a hip and healthy kids restaurant called Beansprouts Cafe that offers organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and egg-free options for little shoppers. The store also houses a half-acre indoor play and party area with 10 classrooms available for birthday parties and for Wonder teachers to hold music, dance and cooking classes.
Christensen spent a lot of time talking to the Abt family, owners of Abt Electronics in Glenview, to learn about carrying a deep assortment of products for an upscale customer and the art of white glove customer service.
And in a nod to the current generation of digitally savvy young parents, Christensen made sure that everything shoppers see in the store is available online at shopwonder.com, including a baby gift registry.
It’s a tough time to jump into the retail business with a bricks-and-mortar store as high unemployment and the housing crisis weigh on consumers, but Wonder has an advantage by targeting a higher-income demographic, said Ken Harris, CEO of Kantar Retail Americas consulting.
“There are things that people need to see and taste and touch and feel before they purchase,” said Harris.
Wonder hopes to stand out from rival warehouse stores, such as Babies R Us and Bed Bath & Beyond’s buybuy Baby, by taking a curated approach to its merchandise. The startup hired 10 buyers from retailers including Walgreen, Sears and Shopbop.com and charged them with seeking out vendors not typically found in big-box stores.
As of its debut, Wonder will carry about 25,000 products, including 100,000 individual stock-keeping units. Only about 20 percent of the merchandise will cross over with other big-box formats, Christensen said. Prices will span a wide range, from a $15 private-label T-shirt to a $75 Stella McCartney barn jacket. There will be entry-level strollers and $3,900 prams, basic Barbie dolls and whimsical crafting kits from French toy-maker Moulin Roty.
Once the Deerfield store is open, Christensen plans to open two stores in cities such as Denver or Los Angeles or Dallas. He expects to open 19 stores in the next five years.
Even if the economy continues to remain sluggish, Christensen is banking on the fact that shoppers will spend on children and pets even when times are tough.
“Children and pets are generally more recession resistant,” said Christensen. “In our demographic, that’s even more so. They will not skimp on their children.”