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Matrimonial mall provides a one-stop shopping experience

Jan. 21, 2009

The temperatures might have been in the single digits last week, but that wasn’t enough to keep brides-to-be away from the shops at Stonewood Village on Capitol Drive in Brookfield.

In fact, the cold weather that closed schools and businesses only seemed to increase the business at Savvy Bride, a by-appointment-only bridal shop at Stonewood, owner Lisa Carrao said.

While Savvy Bride has been the site of countless wedding planning sessions since it opened two and a half years ago, a handful of other businesses at the shopping center are starting to get into the mix with the creation of The Wedding Center at Stonewood Village, designed as a one-stop destination for brides-to-be, featuring everything from dresses to photography studios to flower shops.

Center offers many services

The transition toward a more unified identity at the shopping center started to jell last year, when 4 S, an Oconomowoc-based developer, purchased the eight-acre site and president Michael Schutte met with the owners of the businesses in Stonewood Village to discuss the future of the shopping center.

Led by Savvy Bride, Carrao and others pitched the idea of a more cohesive identity for Stonewood's shops. Now, as the center heads into 2009, 15 businesses have become part of The Wedding Center, offering everything from personal training to destination wedding planning.

"It's been a great little adventure," Carrao said.

The city's Plan Commission earlier this month saw a proposal for a new building at the site, but commissioners said they would like to see a more comprehensive redevelopment plan for the site.

Neighborhood Planner Jason Williams said 4 S could come back with a detailed plan for the Plan Commission to consider in March or April.

Owners see more business

For now, the businesses that are part of The Wedding Center are enjoying the benefits. Jim Hamberg of Black Dog Studios, a photography business that has been at Stonewood for a little more than a year, said he already has three times as many weddings booked this year than he did at the same time last year.

"We've been able to pick a pretty cool group of people and we all work together really well," Hamberg said.

Hamberg said a big advantage of the center, at least to customers, is convenience, a point echoed by Carrao and other shop owners. He said a bride can come in to one place and take care of floral arrangements, DJ services and alterations without having to travel to 10 different places.

"It helps a bride that she can just come (to Stonewood) and stay in one spot," he said.

Caron Sherer, the owner of Caron's Bridal Alterations, shares a building with Hamberg and his photo studio. Sherer has been at Stonewood Village for almost three years.

Sherer said she has a lot of repeat customers, but she also has seen business coming from other shops at Stonewood.

Center could expand in future

The hub of the Wedding Center is Some Kinda Wonderful, which opened in its new retail store in September. Owner Monica Murphy-Bredin sells flowers out of her shop and online, and the store also offers food and coffee, as well as consultation space for brides to discuss their wedding plans.

Even though the Wedding Center has been successful, Carrao said the center is interested in attracting other wedding-related stores. In his letter to the Plan Commission, Schutte said he would eventually like to add another restaurant - Mr. B's already occupies one building - and a 10,000-square-foot banquet facility to Stonewood.

"We still want to grow," Carrao said. "We'd be totally open to like-minded businesses."

Carrao said there have been talks about holding a bridal show at Stonewood Village in the summer.

Alan Hamari can be reached at (262) 446-6601.

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: The Wedding Center at Stonewood Village

WHERE: 17700 W. Capitol Drive

PHONE: (262) 790-1098

VENDORS

Vendors at the Wedding Center at Stonewood Village:

Axiom: health and fitness

Black Dog Studios: photography

Blackline Limos: limousine services

The Card Butler: card holders, (262) 495-8637

Caron's Bridal: alterations

Distinctive Memories: photography

Elite Productions: videography

Island Getaways: destination weddings and honeymoons

Megan's Tea Room: shower/flower girl celebrations

Olympia Resort: resort and reception hall

Panache Desserts: cake and desserts

Premier Chair Covers: linen rentals

Savvy Bride: bridal shop

Set the Night to Music: DJ services

Some Kinda Wonderful: floral and décor

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