Geneva, Illinois Retail in, Retail Out.

Kane County Chronicle 4/5/2011 GENEVA – Geneva has lost 19 businesses since November, according to the city’s monthly business reports, but gained 13 new ones with more on the horizon, officials said.

“It’s been up and down,” Geneva Business Development Specialist Paul Evans said. “In general, we’re holding our own in the face of the economy.”

Evans pointed to factors other than the economy for store closings.

“Sometimes, it’s a corporate decision and not necessarily the local economy,” Evans said. “Sometimes, the business was fine in Geneva, but corporately not. Sometimes, things are going on in a particular company; sometimes, the economy is at fault. But most of the time, businesses are opening.”

Stores that closed include retailers Harry and David and Vino 100 and eatery Taco Fresco, all in the Geneva Commons; Fourth Street Galleries; Savannah Rose, on Third Street and Fresh Jewelry Company and Gift Outlet on Richards Street. Also closed were Water Heaters Plus and restaurant Mill Race Inn, and Gymboree Play and Music Center, all on East State Street.

Geneva Hardware relocated to St. Charles.

“What we’re seeing is, nationwide, retailers are starting to write leases again,” said Ellen Divita, Geneva’s economic development director. “Locally, we are having a lot of nice downtown mom-and-pop stores. And we’re seeing those that weathered the recession expanding.”

Among the new small businesses are Ann Ariel Interiors, 117 S. First St.; Jac N Jill Organic, 227 S. Third St.; BB Interiors, 600 S. First St.; and Unique Rug Gallery, 715 E. State St.

Among the new retailers are Nora’s Shoe Shop of Oak Park, which is building a second location across from Geneva Tire and Auto Store, 129 W. State St.; and The Pink Hippo, which sells children’s specialty items, at Dodson Place. Sephora, a makeup, skincare and fragrance retailer, 406 Commons Drive, will have a grand opening Friday.

Also, Divita said the city approved a permit for Charming Charlie, a national chain of women’s accessories and apparel in the Geneva Commons.

Also, Five Below, a retailer for pre-teens and teens, offering brand-name merchandise for $5 – or below, is scheduled to open an 8,000-square-foot store May 6 next to Dominick’s in the Fabyan Crossing shopping center, the retailer’s marketing director Liz Romaine said.

Five Below the store was founded in 2002 in Philadelphia and has been expanding. Geneva will be one of the Philadelphia retailer’s 12 Chicago area openings.

“Chicago area will be our latest step westward,” Romaine said. “When we look for real estate and communities in which to open up stores, we look for strong regional centers with great co-tenants and that center meets that criteria. We look for areas with value-minded consumers and a lot of families.”

Among the Geneva stores that expanded are Strut ... Your Stuff, 217½ S. Third St., which opened a second women’s retail store called Strut ... in Style, 207 S. Third St.; Anew, 27 W. State St., a consignment shop that doubled to add bridal and party consignments; and Minta Interiors, 9 N. Third St., has added a second store, Aggatti, offering handbags and shoes all imported from Italy.

“There’s a lot being built out,” Divita said.

SRNTY Jewelry by Jamie Bellandi, expanded her jewelry business at 228 S. Third St., to a new store next door, SRNTY Bridal and Events at 226 S. Third St. Bellandi designs and makes jewelry and the second store is specific to designing and making accessory jewelry for weddings and parties.

Bellandi said she opened the second store in February because the business needed the space – and it was time to take another risk.

“I opened the original store in 2005,” Bellandi said. “I felt the economy shift at the end of October of 2008 and by 2009, we definitely felt our share. ... In 2010, we recouped what we lost and had grown again.”

The original design area became too small for the demand. So when space next door became available, Bellandi said she took it. Now the two separate stores are joined inside so she can move between two design areas.

“I thought long and hard,” Bellandi said. “But at the end of the day, I feel the same way today as when I first opened my business. You can’t not take a risk. Otherwise nothing happens.”

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