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By Dan Haley
Oak Park will soon be the only destination for Apple aficionados between Oak Brook and the Clybourn Corridor as a longtime Apple-affiliated retailer and service provider will open an Apple store on Lake Street just west of Oak Park Avenue, a location previously occupied by Baird & Warner Real Estate.
The announcement was made July 11 by David King, a local commercial real estate leasing agent. MacSpecialist, an independent firm which has been affiliated with Apple for 15-plus years, will open the 6,000-square-foot store at 805 Lake St. in the Scoville Square Building. The store will sell all Apple products with the exception of phones. In addition, it will be an authorized repair/warranty center and a training facility for consumers. The Scoville Square site will be both a retail location and the corporate headquarters for the company.
"We plan on bringing the full Apple retail experience to Oak Park," said Tim Robertson, operations chief for MacSpecialist. He said the store will hire 20 people to staff its operation. Demolition on the site has already begun.
Robertson emphasized the reseller store is a partner of Apple, not a competitor. Their staff consists of Mac-trained technicians who can fix almost any issue on site instead of shipping products away.
"Apple creates fantastic products. We are very excited to be able to offer them in Oak Park," Robertson said. "We are a locally-owned company that has been in business since the mid-1980s and looking at Oak Park as our flagship and corporate headquarters for years to come."
One significant resource worth noting, he said, is training for information technology professionals available on site. The training will provide certification and also attract more people to Oak Park from outside the area, Robertson said.
Oak Park was chosen in large part because it is an active community that cares about the village, he said, which made for a desirable pick when selecting a permanent home. A 10-year-lease was signed, and Robertson said the company plans to remain an active partner in the community.
"We're here for the long haul," he said. "This isn't a spur-of-the-moment decision. We're jumping in with both feet without a life preserver and putting a bet on Oak Park."
The MacSpecialist store will open on Oct. 1. Robertson said the retailer will offer thousands of dollars in daily giveaways during its opening week.
The Lake Street site has had a mixed history as a retail location, a situation that led to its use in recent years as the Baird & Warner location. After its acquisition of F.C. Pilgrim & Co. real estate last year, Baird & Warner combined offices into the former Pilgrim office building on Chicago Avenue. Going back a number of years, the Lake Street site had been home to a women's clothing store called Findlay's.
Brandy Masoncup, president of the Avenue Business Association, is thrilled about the upcoming arrival of MacSpecialist. She said their well-respected reputation will serve Oak Park well. She said more retail in the district helps create "retail clustering" to attract more people to shop in the area.
King said MacSpecialist had been interested in locating in this area and he and officials from village government, successfully urged them to choose the Oak Park site. They successfully made the argument that Oak Park is the most identifiable address for what he believes will be a regional destination for consumers.
"It's truly huge for them and the community," King said. "It will bring new life to the area."
Oak Park's village government had been pursuing a corporate Apple store for the past year. When the Border's store at Harlem and Lake closed, Tom Barwin, former village manager, said Oak Park would actively solicit Apple for that prime space. While Oak Park did not win a corporate Apple store, officials are enthused about the arrival of the MacSpecialist version on Lake Street.
—Staff Reporter Anna Lothson contributed to this report