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updated: 9/3/2014 5:58 AM

Downtown Wheaton vacancy rate drops as new businesses move in

Home decor shop, Subway now open in downtown Wheaton

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  • Patty Sorenson, owner of P.S. Flowers & Interiors, arranges silk flowers on a mantle display in her new store, which opened last month in downtown Wheaton.

       Patty Sorenson, owner of P.S. Flowers & Interiors, arranges silk flowers on a mantle display in her new store, which opened last month in downtown Wheaton.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Several new businesses have moved into downtown Wheaton recently, including P.S. Flowers & Interiors, which opened late last month at 125 W. Front St.

       Several new businesses have moved into downtown Wheaton recently, including P.S. Flowers & Interiors, which opened late last month at 125 W. Front St.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Several new businesses are moving into downtown Wheaton, including a quilting shop called A Different Box of Crayons. The store is scheduled to open on Halloween at 121 W. Wesley St.

       Several new businesses are moving into downtown Wheaton, including a quilting shop called A Different Box of Crayons. The store is scheduled to open on Halloween at 121 W. Wesley St.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Several new businesses are moving into downtown Wheaton, including Art & Glass Studio at 124 N. Main Street.

       Several new businesses are moving into downtown Wheaton, including Art & Glass Studio at 124 N. Main Street.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

 
 

A record store, a quilting shop and several other businesses are coming to downtown Wheaton, officials say.

In addition, two new businesses -- P.S. Flowers at 125 W. Front St. and Subway at 105 E. Front St. -- opened in the past two weeks.

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P.S. Flowers sales associate Meghan Hull said the store offers custom silk floral arrangements, along with a variety of home decor, such as art, mirrors and accent furniture.

"We're really big on holiday decor and do a lot of consultations," she said.

The store, which moved from Glen Ellyn, opened Aug. 22 with hours from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Subway opened last Friday, said Paula Barrington, executive director of the Downtown Wheaton Association. It includes outdoor seating and fills a space left empty when Skylight Bakery closed about a year ago. It's open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

On Sept. 15, local artist Law Sedory is planning to open his new business, Art & Glass Studio, at 124 N. Main St.

Sedory said the bulk of his business will be "designing, making and repairing stained glass," but he plans to have antique pieces and some of his other artwork, such as clay tiles and glass bowls, for sale at the shop. His past work includes restoration of the stained-glass windows of two Frank Lloyd Wright houses.

"It's a dream come true," he said, adding that until now, he has run his business out of his home. "It's something I've been thinking about for a long time."

Other businesses that are expected to open in the coming months include Mile Long Records, which is filling a long-vacant space at 350 W. Front St.

"The vision of the owner is to have a shop that carries a collection of current and vintage vinyl records," Barrington said. "That's been a real passion for him."

Barrington said there is "a huge market" for records and she is expecting vinyl collectors will travel long distances to take a look at the store's selection.

Another business that will likely become a destination for people living outside Wheaton is A Different Box of Crayons. The quilting shop is set to open Oct. 31 in a house that has been turned into commercial space at 121 W. Wesley St.

Quilting materials and patterns will be sold at the store and the owner, Lynn Schmitt, is planning to host workshops in the space, Barrington said.

In addition, a new hair salon called M & Co. has signed a lease for the old Knippen Shoes storefront at 135 N. Hale St. An opening date is unknown.

Barrington said there are several locations the association is still working hard to fill, including a corner storefront at Liberty Drive and Hale Street that was once home to Ron's TV.

"It's been cleaned out," she said. "It's ready for a very innovative business person to come in and take advantage of what we think is a great location."

The former Paper House gift shop at 124 N. Hale St. and the former Austin BBQ location at 226 W. Front St. are other vacant properties that also have good pedestrian and vehicular traffic, Barrington said.

While she would like to see more "fashion-oriented" shops and restaurants move into the downtown area, Barrington said she is pleased with the number of new businesses that have opened this year.

In 2011, she said, 17 ground floor storefronts in downtown Wheaton were vacant. Now, there only about nine empty commercial properties.

Barrington partially attributes the drop in vacancies to the constant flow of activity the Downtown Wheaton Association tries to keep going in the downtown area.

"Right now we're looking at a 5 percent vacancy rate, which is really good for a downtown area of our size," she said.

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