A designer dress shop has moved from downtown Naperville to a location that would have seemed unlikely a few months ago.
The vacant strip mall on Washington Street just south of Ogden Avenue used to house a Blockbuster video rental shop and a Sprint store. And, it "needed a facelift."
Sue Zanayed-Cerulli, owner of Bri'Zan Couture, said it wasn't the building's appearance that kept her coming back to it as a possible new location for her dress shop, but its size, parking lot and proximity to downtown Naperville.
"We had been spotting this location for a couple years. It's been empty. We knew we were looking for a new location to help us expand," Zanayed-Cerulli said. "Yes, it needed a facelift, but as you can see with the new facelift it's brought life to the whole building."
Bri'Zan Couture, which sells dresses by 50 designers, moved to 827 N. Washington St. in July as the property was getting a new brick facade. The dress shop is just north of NaperValue Cleaners and Uncle Pete's Pizza, but actually in a separate building. And "luckily," Zanayed-Cerulli says, the pizza smell doesn't waft into the dress shop.
Zanayed-Cerulli said she is aiming for a "comfortable and homey and relaxing" atmosphere in the new location. The 5,000-square-foot shop expands on the 2,200-square-foot space Bri'Zan Couture previously held in downtown Naperville on Washington near Van Buren Avenue.
"We decided to take on a location that gave us double the square footage so we could separate our bridal from evening from prom and give the families of our brides a little bit more privacy," Zanayed-Cerulli said.
The store had been in downtown since it was founded six years ago.
"It's always a downfall when you don't have the exposure that the downtown gives you," Zanayed-Cerulli said.
But she considers the store a "destinational place" and said she expects customers will follow wherever it goes.
"Although we're sad to see Bri'Zan Couture depart the core downtown area, we're happy to know they're right up the road," said Katie Wood, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance. "They haven't gone far."
At the new location, Bri'Zan Couture has built out the former Sprint store and part of the old Blockbuster. Workers hired by the building's California-based landlord have been laying red bricks for a new facade. They also plan to install a new sign and repave the parking lot north of the building.
"They wanted an upscale tenant and we wanted an upscale look," she said. "So it worked for both of us."