It's Your Business: Sears Hometown to open in Champaign

It's Your Business: Sears Hometown to open in Champaign

Sears is returning to Champaign, albeit in a more modest way.

Humberto Alessandrini plans to open a Sears Hometown store at the west end of Market View Shopping Center, adjacent to TJ Maxx.

"We'll carry appliances, lawn and garden items including tractors and sheds, general tools, Craftsman hand tools and power tools, some mattresses and a little bit of electronics," said Alessandrini, who has operated a Sears Hometown store in Morris for two years.

In addition to selling items on display, the store will be a point-of-sale for everything Sears offers through its catalog and, he said. Customers can arrange either to pick up merchandise at the store or have it sent to their homes. He said the store can also arrange service for Sears products.

"For Sears, it is a priority to open a store in Champaign," Alessandrini said, adding that the company approached him about the opportunity. Sears closed its department store at Market Place Shopping Center in January.

Alessandrini said he doesn't have a firm date for the Sears Hometown opening, but he estimated the store will be up and running about Sept. 1.

"The whole family is moving to Champaign. We have a house there," he added. "We are very excited about opening precisely in Champaign because we think it's a prosperous place for doing retail."

The store will occupy 6,500 square feet at 11-13 E. Marketview Drive, C, part of which formerly housed Golf Discount.

Alessandrini said the store will have at least five sales associates, two warehouse associates for delivery, plus management. He expects to fill the positions locally.

Hours will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. The only days the store will close are Thanksgiving and Christmas, he said.

Alessandrini said he became a Sears Hometown owner after retiring from a previous job and seeking "an interesting business" in which to invest capital. He said the Sears Hometown franchise in Morris "went really well." He said he hadn't planned to open a second store for another year, but when presented with the opportunity in Champaign, he moved quickly.

Korean restaurant in Urbana

Masijta Grill has opened in downtown Urbana, just up Race Street from the Courier Cafe.

The restaurant, which specializes in Korean cuisine, is located on the first floor of the Stratford apartment building on the northeast corner of Race and Water streets — the former site of The Morning Cup & More coffee shop.

Owner Young Sun said Masijta Grill is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Its menu includes shareable dishes, Korean fried chicken, stir-fry dishes, teriyaki, stews, hot pots and grill meat at the table — and as the sign outside indicates, Korean barbecue is featured. Meal prices range from $9.99 to $32.99.

Outside seating is available, in addition to tables in the dining room.

Young Sun said she would like to offer some baked goods from her husband Jack Kostrub's business, Mirabelle Fine Pastries, in the mornings.

The phone number for Masijta Grill, at 202 N. Race St., U, is 552-1188.

Second Maize getting closer

Armando Sandoval, co-owner of the Maize Mexican Grill at First and Green streets in Champaign, says he hopes a second Maize will be open next month.

As you may remember, Sandoval announced plans in April 2013 to take over the former Cafe Luna space in the old Champaign train station at 116 N. Chestnut St., C. But plans got delayed as he concentrated efforts on the original restaurant during the 2013-14 school year and waited for a liquor license for the new spot.

"We're looking to begin in July," Sandoval said.

He plans to start serving in the northern dining room and on the patio first and expand later to the southern dining room. Hours are expected to be 5 to 10 p.m. in the beginning, and perhaps expand to 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. later, if business warrants.

Sandoval said he loves the looks of the old train station and plans to keep the decor "simple." The new restaurant will start with the same menu as the existing one and also offer appetizers, desserts and drinks.

He said he plans to divide his kitchen crew among the two locations, but will need to hire servers for the new spot.

Coming to Market Place

Dr. G's BrainWorks: The Brain Fitness Store & More plans to open a second location July 1 near the food court at Market Place Shopping Center in Champaign.

The store, which sells games and other products and services for brain fitness and cognitive stimulation, opened its first store at Urbana's Lincoln Square Mall in November 2013. That store will remain open, and special screening, training and coaching services are expected to be offered there soon.

Hours for the Champaign store will be 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays, according to General Manager Nani Baker.

The firm's founder and CEO, Dr. William Gingold, has had a 50-year career as a psychologist and gerontologist.

Baker said Gingold created Dr. G's BrainWorks as a "mission-driven firm" to enhance "cognitive wellness and quality of life within local communities."

The store's website is

Green light for second store

Common Ground Food Co-Op hopes to announce by Sept. 20 a location for the store it plans to build in central Champaign.

The co-op's board of directors recently agreed to move forward with securing a site after hearing the results of a year's worth of research on the project's feasibility.

"The market studies show there is ample demand for the local farm foods and organic foods we bring to the community, to support it," General Manager Jacqueline Hannah said in a release.

As previously reported, the Champaign location would be similar in size to Common Ground's store at Urbana's Lincoln Square Mall, with a full-service deli, salad bar, local and organic produce section and a community classroom.

The co-op expects construction to begin in the summer of 2015 and the store to open in late 2015.

A Star Uniforms is born

After seven years in Urbana, Star Uniforms has moved to a new location in Champaign at 503 W. Town Center Blvd.

The store, which sells medical scrubs, lab coats, shoes and accessories for health care workers and students, shares a new building at Champaign Station with Springleaf Financial, 501 W. Town Center Blvd. The building is just in front of All About Eyes and across the street from GFS Marketplace.

Store manager Marlana Ackerman said Star Uniforms has about twice the space it had at 400 N. Broadway Ave., U. The store carries a variety of scrubs brands, including Cherokee, WonderWink, HeartSoul, Grey's Anatomy, Barco, Koi and Dickies.

Hours for the new store are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. With the move, the store got a new phone number: 398-9966.

Star Uniforms also has a store in Bloomington.

Out of the ashes

The Maurices store in Champaign is once again back in business, following an April 15 fire that prompted a two-month closing.

The store, at 1901 N. Market St., C, reopened June 13 in its spot in Market Place Plaza near Gordman's and Rue 21.

Cool refreshment on wheels

Wes and Chuck Hanner have opened a Kona Ice business in Champaign, taking tropical shaved ice to neighborhoods and festivals throughout the area.

The Kona Ice truck makes rounds through neighborhoods on weekday afternoons. weeknights and weekends, playing tropical-themed music. So far, the truck has traveled routes in Champaign, Savoy, Mahomet and Sidney.

Using the "flavorwave" on the side of the truck, kids can apply the flavors themselves, Wes Hanner said. They can choose from 10 flavors, with the most popular being Tiger's Blood (strawberry-coconut), Blue Raspberry (blueberry-raspberry) and Godzilla (fruit-punch flavor).

Another 30 flavors — including Strawberry Daiquiri, Strawberry Shortcake, Dreamsicle and Banana Colada — are available from attendants on the truck.

Prices range from $2 for a kiddie cup of shaved ice to $5 for a color-changing cup.

"When the cup gets cold, it changes colors," Hanner said, noting that with purchase of the cup, customers get $3 refills.

"All of our products are gluten-free, dairy-free, fat-free and peanut-free," he added.

Kona Ice is one of the fastest-growing franchises in the country. Launched in 2007, Kona Ice is based in Florence, Ky., and has close to 500 trucks on the road, according to spokeswoman Rosie Gillam.

Wes Hanner said he learned of Kona Ice through a magazine.

"I always wanted to do my own thing, own my own business, and I wanted to have fun too," he said, noting he's often the one inside the Kona the Penguin costume.

During the days, Wes Hanner is a marketing consultant for The News-Gazette Media Group, and his father, Chuck, has operated Hanner Construction for 35 years. Wes Hanner said his mother, Linda, and girlfriend, Andrea Laird, are also part of the local Kona Ice team.

The business also works with schools, sports leagues and other organizations to raise funds.

The phone number for Kona Ice of Champaign is 974-KONA (5662).

Oodles of noodles

Watch for Koto Ramen to open in late August or early September at 508 E. Green St., C — the former site of Drew's Pizzeria.

The new Japanese noodle restaurant will be operated by Amy Chook and her family, who own several restaurants in the St. Louis area.

Chook said Koto Ramen plans to cook Japanese noodles right in front of customers — something she called a new concept in the U.S.

She said her family operates three Shogun restaurants in the St. Louis area, as well as Hokkaido, a buffet-style restaurant there.

Another business in [co][lab]

Colorable, a media planning/buying, branding and advertising agency, has opened inside [co][lab], the collaborative working space at 206 W. Main St., U.

"What's special about Colorable is that we engage in social projects where we reach out to the community," said CEO and founder Christopher Chae in an Urbana Business Association release. "For example, we're currently finding ways to help the coffee industry in Champaign-Urbana."

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The website is, and the phone number is 773-710-4695.

Sneak peek at new Corvette

Folks attending the Bloomington Gold Corvette Show in Champaign this coming weekend can get one of the first glimpses of Chevrolet's new 2015 ZO6 Corvette.

"We are excited that Chevrolet is bringing both a 2015 ZO6 coupe and convertible for the public to see," said Bloomington Gold Corvettes President Guy Larsen. "They have not been displayed to the public, except for in Bowling Green, (Ky.), and it is an honor that Bloomington Gold has been chosen as a place for the public to really get their first look at them."

Also on hand will be a complete rolling chassis of the C7 Z06 and the 2015 C7 Stingray Pacific and Stingray Atlantic.

The Chevrolet display, along with sponsor Sullivan-Parkhill Automotive in Champaign, will be found at the show's main entrance. The show starts Friday on the University of Illinois campus and runs through Sunday.

Boutique old enough to drink

Circles Boutique in downtown Champaign celebrated its 21st birthday Saturday with an open house and raffle. It's following that up with a sidewalk sale from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 28, and everything outside the store at 114 N. Neil St., C, will be "from seasons past," boutique owner Danelle Jameson said.

The lavender must go on

Despite a winter that was hard on lavender, Jan Meier of Sharp's Crossing Lavender Farm is still holding her fourth annual Lavender Festival.

The event begins Friday and runs through Sunday at the farm, located 7 miles north of Urbana at 1495 County Road 2300 North, Champaign (just south of Thomasboro).

There's no lavender for picking this year, but the farm's Barn Shop will be open and filled with lavender products, including lavender sachets, lotion bars, soaps, tea canisters, infusers and other items.

"I'm just hoping that the plants survive and produce a crop next year," Meier said.

The phone number for the farm is 612-720-0377.

The gallery's goodbye

As it gets ready to close, Wind Water & Light Gallery at Urbana's Lincoln Square is hosting an "Epilogue Party" from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

It's a chance to meet local artists and say "so long" to shop operators Mary Tangora and Larry Steinbauer.

Tickets are available at

Rug sale looming

It's a ways off, but you may want to mark Ten Thousand Villages' annual Oriental Rug Event on your calendar.

The event, which will feature more than 300 Bunyaad rugs, will be Sept. 26-28 in the Quad Room of the I-Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First St., C.

Bunyaad is a fair-trade Oriental rug company that works with more than 850 families in 100 villages in Pakistan. More than half the artisans are women.

The hand-knotted rugs range in size from 2-by-3 feet to 10-by-14 feet.

The event at the hotel is hosted by Ten Thousand Villages, a nonprofit retailer at 105 N. Walnut St., C.

Two Men and A Truck expands

Rene and Dan Shunk, who operate the local Two Men and A Truck moving franchise, are expanding their business by opening another full office in Springfield.

They are planning to add at least 12 new employees, according to the company's public relations firm.

Mea culpa: Spa, not studio

In reporting the upcoming move of Green Yoga Spa to a Victorian house at 302 W. Elm St., U, the June 8 "It's Your Business" column referred to the business as a yoga studio.

As owner Mary Wolters points out, the business is actually a spa where she offers private yoga lessons. There's not enough room at the new location for yoga classes.

Contact Don Dodson at 351-5227; by email at; or by regular mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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