Bartlett barn gets reboot as Prestige Creative Markets and Nursery
Since 1969, Prestige Nursery and Gift Shop has been a fixture and a meeting place for its Bartlett neighbors.
"For years it had been a destination place. We had customers who came every week and after church," said Sue Abbott, daughter of the original owners, Al and Ginny Wawak. "There are so many connections."
Grand opening and open house for Prestige Creative Markets and NurseryWhere: 28W761 Army Trail Road, West Chicago
When: Store is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 22, with special events between 11 and 3:30 p.m.
Cost: Free admission
Details: prestigecreativemarkets.com or (630) 326-8858
A new era begins on Saturday, June 22, when an open house will be held to introduce a revamp of the inside of the 100-year-old-barn, one of the few barns left from the 19th century, according to Sue, who lives with her husband in Wayne.
The new venture will be called Prestige Creative Markets and Nursery. Although it is nearly impossible to tell from the outside of the building, the barn and silo have been repurposed to house 72 shop owners and about 10 consignors.
"We have tons under one roof. It's deceiving from the outside. There's something for everyone," said Andrea Scott of Bartlett, whose home decor, apparel and jewelry are artfully displayed along a sunlit wall inside the revamped barn.
"There are artists and natural products and handmade jewelry and clothes and mancave stuff. Everyone can walk around and find a little something that speaks to them."
Along with her eclectic mixture of repainted furniture and French-style decor, incorporating romantic cottage/shabby chic elements, Scott also offers home decorating services.
"I do in-home consultations. I'll do a redesign for customers. They'll say, 'I have great stuff, I just don't know how to place it,' or I can go the full gamut," she said. "I keep it at a price point I would pay if I had this house. So, I try to be very reasonable compared to high end."
Before the restoration, the Wawaks had passed the business along to their daughter and son-in-law, who were visualizing something new and enticing for not just local but destination shoppers.
"We were trying to reinvent the whole Prestige aspect. It was a premier garden and gift shop, but over the years it was harder to compete with big box stores," Sue said.
Meanwhile, Steve Seyller, who lives in Carol Stream, was also heading down a renewed path.
"I'm a carpenter by trade for 35 years, then a buddy asked me to take a barn down with him and we started to make barn wood furniture," he said. "We were booth owners, and over the years we needed a little more space and then a little more space and we said, 'wouldn't it be cool to have our own store?' and that's how it evolved."
Seyller reached out to the Abbotts with an idea that he hoped to implement with his family, including his wife, Jenay Safranski, and mother, Gail Seyller.
"We approached them and asked, 'what do you think about reinventing Prestige as a multi-dealer market,' and they loved the idea. There's so much history and character. The building is so cool, how could it not work? And them doing retail for 47 years before that."
Seyller, who lives in Carol Stream, wasn't a stranger to Sue Abbott.
"I went to high school with Sue," Seyller said. "We knew each other in high school and then I didn't see her again until all of this."
"All of this" was a major clean out, followed by a notice on Facebook and several local newspapers looking for artisans of all kinds. The clean out might have been more difficult than finding shop owners.
"It was very bittersweet, cleaning out 50 years of stuff in the barn," Sue Abbott said. "My mom and myself have had some emotional moments. It's been our whole life invested in this place."
Now the hard work is done. The Seyllers will manage the place. The sellers have displayed an enormous variety of wares and the various areas are set up to make browsing easy. Merchandise includes items such as soap, beaded denim jackets, paintings, granola, and candy only Baby Boomers will recognize.
Many items are home furnishings that include modern farmhouse style to vintage art and furnishings, painted furniture, primitives, industrial, boho, architectural salvage, midcentury modern, French Country/Provincial and custom-designed barn wood furniture and accessories.
Although Prestige Creative Markets and Nursery officially has a West Chicago address, they consider themselves a Bartlett enterprise.
"Our physical address is West Chicago, but all of our municipalities and inspections -- all of that is Bartlett," said Seyller.
Bartlett seems to feel the same way.
"There's not a lot of venues like this. It looks like it's going to be a great fit for our village," said Tony Fradin, economic development coordinator for the village of Bartlett.
"We're excited to have them. They've been here for 50 years, and we hope it will thrive for the next 50 years."
At 3 p.m. Saturday, Bartlett Village President Kevin Wallace will join the Wawak family for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the family's 50 years in business.
The open house will include live country music by Strawdawg, radio-controlled car racing, face painting, henna painting, psychic readings and food.
There are plans to offer art lessons and wine yoga in the front of the building. More nursery shrubs and flowers are planned to complement the garden art where, tucked behind the entrance, there is a large stone square set among the bricks that reads "Wawak 1969."