New Retail Concept Replacing Zest in Downtown Leesburg

Retail industry veterans Ben and Tara Wegdam have tweaked their plans for their newest retail store in downtown Leesburg, and look forward to debuting their Brick & Mortar concept in a matter of weeks.

Last year, the Wegdams announced plans to reprise their Zest retail concept in a South King Street storefront, space formerly occupied by the Leesburg Antiques Emporium. A sister concept to longtime Leesburg retailer lou lou, it would have been the third Zest in the Wegdams’ company, West Federal Retail. The Wegdams also operate Crème de la Crème, which formerly had a storefront in Leesburg, but now has stores in Middleburg, Richmond and Frederick, MD. Altogether, the company operates 34 boutique locations along the East Coast.

But over the course of the past year, taking notice of the downtown’s booming entertainment industry, by way of live music, bars, breweries and restaurants, Ben Wegdam said they rethought their decision.

“We just want to entertain similar to our environment. If you have a lot of people out there that are interested in beer, why not sell shirts with beer stuff on it? If they’re listening to music, why not bring a piano in and let people play the piano? That’s exactly what we’re going to do,” he said.

The Wegdams had been tossing around the idea of the Brick & Mortar concept for a while, but now look forward to its reality in downtown Leesburg. In a nod to the changing dynamics of the retail industry, Brick & Mortar will offer an experience that can’t be replicated online. In addition to the piano that invites customers to play, the store will spin vinyl records and offer shoppers a beverage while perusing the products.

“It’s a new form of retailing where the entertainment is number one and the product is really number two. We’re not going to sell online; if you want to get a taste of what we’re all about, you’ve got to come to the store. We cannot offer you the entertainment online,” he said. “Especially in environments like we have in downtown Leesburg, I think that’s hopefully going to work out well.”

Wegdam said each product offered at the store—for men and women, as well as gifts— has a “fun story.”

“We really bring in products that have a fun identity,” he said.

Brick & Mortar plans to open its doors April 15 at 32 S. King St.


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