After nearly 60 years in business, will close its doors at 211 E. Silver Spring Dr. this week.
Marina Kuhn of Fox Point and Cynthia Apfelbach of Mequon have formed a new company, C&M Boutique Inc., that has bought out the assets of the bridal portion of the women's boutique and bridal shop.
Kuhn said they expect to close on the purchase with Zita’s current owner, Heidi Martin, by the end of the week.
After reworking the floor plan and removing the old inventory, Kuhn and Apfelbach will reopen under the same Zita name on June 1 in the current space until they can renovate their permanent 3,500-square-foot space next door. Kuhn said they expect to open in the new space, which is currently vacant, by Thanksgiving.
“We are in the midst of working with an architect and a designer to create a full-service bridal salon right in the heart of Whitefish Bay,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn, a mother of four children who are or have attended St. Monica’s School in Whitefish Bay, said she has an extensive retail background.
The new business will specialize in providing high-end designer wedding gowns, veils, bridesmaid dresses and flower girl dresses. Kuhn said the duo also hope to market their dresses for other events, such as high school debutante balls, high school graduations and first communions.
“That is an untapped niche that will continue to grow,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn said they plan to keep the Zita name because the business has built a reputation of excellent customer service over its more than 75 years in business. Originally located on Astor Street in Milwaukee, the business opened a second location on Silver Spring in 1952.
“We will help brides navigate through our selection of gowns, and help them look their best on their big day,” she said. “We will treat them like they are part of our family.”
The shop will also be home to a full-time alterations specialist, who will operate her own business, Piece of Thread, which will cater to Zita’s customers as well as the general public.
Start-up grant money helped
To make the renovations, C&M Boutique Incorporated received a $40,000 grant through the village’s retail incentive grant program.
The grant program, which was created in late 2009, was created with the intent of providing start-up funds to new businesses on Silver Spring Drive. The grant program was funded partly through the Business Improvement District, which collects taxes from Silver Spring business owners, and partly through matching funds from the village.
C&M originally applied for a $50,000 grant, but the BID board recommended the grant be lowered to $40,000. The grant was approved by both the BID and the village’s Community Development Authority.
In a 6-1 vote, the only CDA member to vote against the grant allocation was Trustee Lauri Rollings. In a later interview, she said she is happy to see a new business open on the street, but did not think the change in ownership warranted grant funding.
“The spirit of the program is to attract new business, and I felt like this isn’t really a new business,” she said. “The owners are acquiring the most valuable asset of the business, which is the Zita name.”
Assistant Village Manager Matt Schuenke said the terms of the grant program require the new business to contribute to the build-out of the space and maintain a three-year lease. The grant is payable when the business owners open in their new space.
Previously, the BID and CDA have approved grants for City Market, Simon Oliver, Minoan Intimate Apparel and Three Wishes.
Under the new ownership, the business' phone number will change. The new business can be reached at 414-332-ZITA and found online at zitabridal.com.