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There was no question in Mike Whalen's mind that retailer HomeGoods would be a match for the Quad-Cities.

Scores of Quad-Citians — mostly women, of course — had pitched their requests for the home fashions retailer to Whalen, the Heart of America Group founder and staff.

In an interview last week, Whalen recalled "I was checking out of Hy-Vee about six months ago when the woman behind me saw my credit card and said 'Oh, you're Mike Whalen, the Heart of America guy. We love the Machine Shed, but can you get a HomeGoods?'"

And for a couple years, his answer was always "We're trying." But just a couple days ago, he had a new answer: HomeGoods is coming and "it's a big deal."

The Moline-based company will build a new HomeGoods store at its Elmore Marketplace shopping complex and next to its signature J Bar in Davenport. The standalone, 22,000-square-foot store is slated to open this fall before the holiday shopping season.

Whalen, who launched his Midwest hospitality and development company from a single Machine Shed restaurant in northwest Davenport in 1978, said the company is ecstatic to have landed the deal. "I know it will be really well received," he said. "The ladies love HomeGoods."

On to the next request of Quad-Citizens, I guess. Among the folks I work with here at the Times, Portillo's and Five Guys top the list.

Jersey Mike's subs help JA of the Heartland

A tasty Jersey Mike's sub is all you need to help support Junior Achievement of the Heartland this month.

Jersey Mike's Subs, 2124 E. Kimberly Road, Davenport, has selected JA as the recipient of its March Month of Giving campaign. All month long, it is collecting donations for the nonprofit. Then on March 28, it will host a Day of Giving and will donates 100 percent of the day's sales — not just the profit — to JA.

The campaign kicked off last week when the new restaurateur hosted Davenport fifth-grade students from Eisenhower Elementary School for their own job-shadow experience. Aron and Camilla Lees opened the franchise last year.

"Aron and Camilla Lees, and the entire Jersey Mike's team, are real-life examples of the entrepreneurial spirit and community engagement Junior Achievement is instilling in our youth through our programs," said Dougal Nelson, JA's vice president of development.

Aron Lees said the couple selected JA as its charity choice because of the life lessons JA teaches kids about the roles and responsibilities of adulthood.

Throughout March, customers can donate $1 to JA and receive a $1-off coupon for their next purchase, $3 and receive a free chip and drink coupon, and $5 and receive a free regular sub.

On Giving Day, Jersey Mike's owners and operators nationwide will donate their resources and sales to support more than 170 different charities, hospitals, youth organizations, food banks and more.

Last year, the Month of Giving raised more than $5.5 million nationwide for charities and $4.6 million on Day of Giving alone. Since 2010, Jersey Mike's locations have raised more than $28 million for local charities and donated more than 2 million free subs to help numerous causes.

American Family adds new office

American Family Insurance agent Pat Haffarnan has expanded his longtime Davenport agency into LeClaire with a new location at 322 N. Cody Road.

The new site is the second office for the agency, located at 2207 E. 52nd St., Suite 2, Davenport. This year, Haffarnan marked his 40th anniversary with American Family.

The LeClaire office is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. It can be reached at 563-635-7000.

Biz Bytes is a weekly column by Quad-City Times reporter Jennifer DeWitt. Contact her at 563-383-2318 or