Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 11:00 am
Christian Deaton is convinced that Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward will become the city’s retail mecca, and he wants a piece of the action.
Deaton plans to open Moda 3, a boutique retail store selling hip "streetwear" and apparel and equipment for snowboarding and skateboarding.
Construction work has begun on the first floor of the P.H. Dye House at 320 E. Buffalo St., where Deaton’s store will occupy 3,000 square feet of space.
"Moda is Italian for style or fashion, particularly the latest of," said Deaton.
Deaton describes "streetwear" as "comfortable, surfy, coastal kinds of looks. You know, casual and jeans."
The store will feature softgoods such as clothing and hardware such as snowboarding and skateboarding equipment.
"I think we will be the premier snowboard stockist in the Midwest," Deaton said.
Deaton wanted to locate his trendy shop in the Third Ward and first considered two sites on busy Water Street. Instead, he selected the P.H. Dye House, located a couple blocks east on the corner of Milwaukee Street.
"I’m excited about the location, especially being in the biggest building. I chose that one, rather than a spot on Water Street, where cars are always on your tail," Deaton said.
When the Third Ward Public Market is constructed, the neighborhood will become a dominant retail center, Deaton predicted.
"The signs that I get are that the Third Ward will become something like the Pearl District in Portland (Ore.), when it comes to shopping experiences, coffee shops, art galleries, entertainment, restaurants … It’s all going to happen in the city. I have no doubt, and now the residential (development) is being built," Deaton said.
Of course, transforming vacant industrial space is no easy endeavor (see accompanying story). Front-end loaders are tearing up the old wooden floors and the cement underlayment of Deaton’s space on the first floor of the building, which was constructed in 1920. Two new bay windows are being installed to attract street-level passersby, along with new doors and a mezzanine.
"We’re going to go with the stripped down, sealed concrete to give it that industrial, raw, keep-it-clean kind of look," Deaton said.
Deaton and his initial staff of five people will build and assemble the displays in the space, which he hopes to open for business before Summerfest begins in late June.
Deaton, who graduated from Concordia University with a degree in education and has gained a few years of retail experience, currently resides in Oregon with his wife, Michelle. They plan to move back to Milwaukee.
Eventually, Deaton hopes to turn his retail shop into a franchise and open shops in other markets.
"I do things right or I don’t do things at all," he said.
Deaton also plans to be an activeplayer in the Third Ward commercial community.
"I’m excited about it. I have ideas I want to share with the other small businesses in the Third Ward to promote the whole Third Ward," Deaton said. "It just takes some vision, some progressive ideas."
April 30, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee