BRADLEY — With plans being developed for a new use of the former Carson’s men’s store in the Northfield Square mall, a Bradley entrepreneur has similar thoughts for the Carson’s women’s store.
Alyssa Gunter, however, is going to need some help. Make that, a lot of help, to make her dream of establishing Bradley’s Fun Co., a reality.
The 30-year-old mother of three girls and a 2007 graduate of Kankakee Trinity Academy, will need significant community backing. She is seeking $350,000 of donations from the community to kick-start her plan.
She has one month to gain the funding. The Crowdfunding Campaign, which runs from Oct. 24 to Nov. 24, had gained less than $500 as of Thursday night. The seven donations have ranged from $20 to $150.
“Every little bit helps. This is my dream,” she said.
Gunter put it this way: She needs 7,000 donations of $50. She said if the necessary total is not reached, the money will be returned. She said no money will be spent until the goal is reached.
As of Thursday night, the account had collected one-tenth of 1 percent of the targeted goal.
The funding campaign can we accessed through bradleysfunco.com.
VACANT SINCE MID-2018
The 60,000-square-foot Carson’s store has been empty since mid-2018.
There is a problem, however. One of the mall’s anchor tenants has a contract which bars other tenants from what would be viewed as competing interests. Gunter is hoping to work through that contract language with the business.
A seven-year nail technician at Lavida Nails in Bourbonnais, Gunter believes the community is thirsting for a location where children, young adults and even parents can gather and play.
She envisions a roller skating rink in the 11,000 square feet of space on the east side of the store, near the restrooms. She sees space for lazer tag, tub slides, pool, darts and refreshments.
She readily admits these plans might seem a long shot, but she is willing to put her effort behind something that could benefit the region.
“It takes a little bit of crazy to make something like this happen,” she said. “I’m a nobody. I’m just a mom with three kids and a lot of passion to try to figure things out.”
If successful with fundraising and gaining all the necessary approvals, she hopes to have the first phase of the project ready for use by July.
Mall management would like Gunter to sign a 10-year lease if she reaches her funding level. The mall is seeking options to fill its large, unoccupied spaces.
‘IT’S A PASSION’
Gunter is aware people might view this idea as odd. She’s not concerned.
She said she thought she had an investor lined up this summer. That deal fell apart just as she was about ready to commit to the site.
She was not deterred. She set out to find new funding and came up with this plan.
“It’s a passion. When I see all these kids without places to go, what are we supposed to do? I’m sick of complacency.
“I’m totally committed. You know what they say, ‘Go big or go home.’ I have not done anything remotely like this. I’m asking people to take a leap of faith with me. I promise the end result will be worth it.”