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In a world gone digital, it seems increasingly unnecessary to step out of the house to even try on a pair of shoes. Companies such as Peapod have sprung up and made grocery shopping, once an endeavor presumed to necessitate in-person selection, almost as simple and faceless as checking e-mail. To a degree, the movement toward e-commerce seems inevitable, but it so often focuses on a limited number of immense retailers with faceless service. For a town like Mokena and its nearly 19,000 residents, e-commerce may have appeared to eliminate the possibility that the village could develop viable shopping opportunities, a reason to go out on a weekend and enjoy using some expendable income with immediate results. Fortunately, Mokena’s leaders have worked toward ensuring that shopping need not be limited to satisfaction from a monitor; big shopping options are on the way for Mokena, and they look to enliven the town enough to get people outside once again.

Mokena’s largest move toward enhancing the village’s shopping experience comes in the form of the simply named Mokena Marketplace, located at the southwest corner of Wolf Road and Route 30. When completed, the Mokena Marketplace should bring in around $1 million in sales tax revenue and generate approximately 800 jobs. Marty Lucas, economic development coordinator of the Village of Mokena, said of the prime location, “It was just kind of waiting for the right development proposal, the right developers, and that came along. We always knew we wanted that as a major retail center, and that’s what it’s becoming.”

Assuredly, the 430,000-square-foot facilities symbolize the prominent changes in store for Mokena. One of its earliest main tenants, JC Penney, will also serve as the first big-box retailer to Mokena. As Mokena’s first department store, JC Penney will offer residents a considerably increased amount of options for their shopping pleasure. Mokena officials and developers have worked on the idea since spring of 2005, and come the late summer of 2008, that dream will come to fruition. On the more practical side of shopping, a 200,000-square-foot facility, Meijer, will also open in the Mokena Marketplace area, giving the variety and price of Internet grocery chains a bit more competition. Accompanying those larger stores, smaller chains like Justice Just for Girls and Potbelly Sandwiches will add to the assortment and value of the Marketplace.

Smaller stores have thrived in the fertile economic ground of Mokena, as well. The 38,000-square-foot facilities of Brookhaven Marketplace show that low prices and selection can exist outside of the major chains, as well. Located at the northwest corner of LaGrange and LaPorte Roads within the Mokena Town Square Shopping Center and its 130,000-square-feet of space, Brookhaven Marketplace presents Mokena with an ample supply of general grocery shopping. Brookhaven Marketplace also has an emphasis on Eastern European groceries, as well, illustrating that even the lesser-known grocers can offer unique wares.

Old Mill Pond also holds an interesting center of consumer interest. Placed near the north entrance to the village, it has a considerable amount of mixed-use space, with retail shops on the ground floor, offices above the shops, and townhomes ideally situated just behind the other two. Its 37,000-square-feet of commercial space has anchors like Fox’s on Wolf, a small Italian-Irish-American restaurant chain, besides more national chains like Clocktower Gifts and Dunkin’ Donuts. Emboldened with stylish architecture, Old Mill Pond has and will continue to draw people for work and after-work fun and food.

Marvelous advances in technology have made working, communicating, and shopping at home almost too easy, nearly depriving people of a valuable impetus for sociability. Mokena, though, will soon offer strong competition to the online juggernauts. Thanks to adept planning and investment, retailers have grown keen on Mokena, and its residents are sure to benefit. Finally, a whole host of reasons to go out shopping—may as well find out how the black dress will fit beforehand, anyway.

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Town Square Publications