Old Witmark Building on Plainfield Finally Going Down
The remaining remnant of old school catalog shopping is finally going away. Adios, Witmark!
For years, the eyesore that was the old Witmark store on Jupiter stood as a sad reminder of days gone by.
I'm sure there's a few of you who had fond memories of Witmark, the combination jewelry and electronics store that also featured catalog sales. (You could order something out of their catalog, and then pick it up a week later).
The demise of Witmark was spelled out clearly on Wikipedia, where no words were minced over how the once hugely popular store fell into decline:
Over its nearly 30-year history, Witmark dominated the jewelry market with an average of a 34% market share. The organization made it a point to develop and keep close ties with the communities the stores served.
By the early 1990s, Witmark's earnings began to decrease due to continued involvement in unprofitable categories outside of jewelry. Big box stores such as Best Buy, Circuit City, Toys "R" Us, Dick's Sporting Goods, and MC Sports captured the electronics, toy, and sports markets respectively and more effectively than Witmark could.
In 1996, Witmark experienced its fourth consecutive year of declining sales and earnings, and the company announced changes to its operating strategy. Unfortunately, vast barriers—such as long-term leases on real estate—limited the company's ability to adapt to the changing business climate. The following year, Witmark liquidated its assets and laid off its 700+ employees.
This week, Plainfield Township, who had been in a protracted battle with the current owner of the building to do something with it, other than allowing it to rot, finally gained control of the building.
According to an article published on the Township web site, it appears as though the Township has gained control over the structure and will begin to demolish it shortly.
The decision to demolish the blighted building came during the Board of Trustees’ June 28 meeting. Under this action, the property will remain with the current owner.
“The removal of this blighted structure has been a major desire for community members,” said Plainfield Township Supervisor Tom Coleman. “This was a complex issue that required us to thoroughly examine all our options.
“I am pleased the Township listened to the requests from the community and was able to take action on this site to improve public safety and health.”
The Township was able to push the issue thanks to the state's blighted buildings law.
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