Luci'a D'Acquisto finds beauty in the details of clothing and accessories.
From fuzzy winter hats dotted with antique buttons to a mocha-colored mini dress with a sequined neckline and fur cap sleeves, she tries to find unusual but feminine pieces to carry in her store.
"My business card says, 'Accessories that make you go hmm,' " she said.
Called Luci'a, the store opened in East Tosa last week. She's still working out the hours, but she has been open from noon to 6 p.m. in the formerly vacant storefront on the corner of 68th Street and North Avenue, next to Royal Court Academy martial arts studio.
"This corner has been empty, so people are stopping by; they're curious," D'Acquisto said.
Meg Miller, a member of the East Tosa Alliance board, welcomes the change to former Fashion Scents building.
"We're thrilled to see a new vibrant store in the neighborhood," she said.
A market study that led to a master plan for the stretch of North Avenue between 60th Street and Wauwatosa Avenue identified a need for more apparel retailers so residents could shop in their own neighborhood.
In this case, D'Acquisto has worked in retail for 34 years and grew up in a family of Italian women so she believes she knows style and shopping. While she lives in Milwaukee, her mother and sisters reside in Tosa, and she's been a frequent patron of North Avenue businesses.
Prior to opening the store, she did house parties and spent the past summer selling at Bastille Days, TosaFest and other festivals.
"I decided to try the retail storefront during the holidays," she said. "My goal is to make this permanent. But I'm feeling out the waters."
Shoppers will notice her affinity for antiques in her displays and will experience her Italian hospitality.
"I'm talking all the time and am a very warm person - I like to hug my customers," she said.
In addition to the storefronts and individual buildings that are seeing new life, the Alliance hopes to work with the city to attract developers to take on some more significant projects in areas of the district that need attention, Miller said.
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