Boutique B'lou moving to North Avenue

April 12, 2011

After 14 years in Elm Grove, women's clothing shop Boutique B'lou is moving to Wauwatosa.

Owner Barbara Berg lives in Wauwatosa and everyone from her grandparents down to her children have attended the school district.

"My roots are very, very deep in Tosa," she said.

When she couldn't find an appropriate spot to set up shop, she looked west. She said she has enjoyed her time in Elm Grove, but the business got moved around the Reinder's property in the past two years.

With "Tosa always pulling at my heartstrings," she checked out the former Furniture Clearance Center space, 8901 W. North Ave. But she wasn't able to take on all 25,000 square feet.

Eventually, John Mathie, owner of Anytime Fitness, leased the space and negotiated the ability to sublease to tenants. One of his first calls went to Berg.

"She's an established business, and she has survived hard economic times," Mathie said. "I wanted a stable business to come in."

Mathie's mother also shopped at Boutique B'lou, a store that caters to women 30 and older.

B'lou will occupy 3,000 square feet on two levels of the building. Berg already has started moving inventory and hopes to have her new location open by the end of the month.

"I love the ambiance of the building," she said, recalling The Grand department store that used to operate there. She has fond memories of throwing pennies into the fish pond while her parents shopped.

"I can't wait to decorate in a way that brings back the '60s feel of the old Grand," Berg said.

She also plans to serve cupcakes in the store through a connection with a woman who's getting a baking business off the ground.

Mathie, also a Tosa resident, had had his eye on the building for four years. During that time he opened gyms in other Milwaukee area communities, always hoping he could land the North Avenue site.

He opened his 24-hour gym a little more than a week ago, after a few delays caused by totally gutting the existing space and putting in new plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems, as well a new floor and all of the brand new fitness equipment. In addition to cardio and weight-lifting pieces, people can download more than 40 workout courses at a kiosk. Touch it and a 9-foot screen with high-definition quality comes down to stream the video. New courses from kickboxing to spin cycling get added monthly.

Mathie also was responsible for bringing Locker's Florist to the building - officially called Wauwatosa Colony - which is now filled up. He attributed the ability to attract businesses to the high traffic counts on North Avenue, availability of onsite parking and a neighborhood that supports local business.


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