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Ambitious pair’s endeavors brighten city site

A furniture and accessory store breathes new life into two historic buildings while expanding opportunities for business partners with a novel approach to decor.

Robert Breissinger, owner of Designers Library, a wholesale business, and Brian Coutu teamed up to launch DL Home & Garden at 283 Central Ave. last year.

Breissinger bought the buildings five years ago. They had been the site of Cable Wiedemer Inc., one of Rochester’s oldest kitchen supply companies.

“There wasn’t a window in the place. It was all bricked in,” Breissinger says of the site.

He and Coutu have been doing much of the renovation work themselves. It took six months to renovate the upper two floors for the wholesale portion of his business, Breissinger says. After securing financing four years later, Breissinger spent time renovating for the retail space and storefront downstairs. It was a good move, he believes, one that offered twice the space of the business’ previous location at the former Daily Record building.

He received a tax incentive from the city that caps any tax increase for the next five years, and a bank loan coupled with a Small Business Administration loan helped pay for the cost of renovations. With the financial package, the city made good sense, Breissinger says.

“I couldn’t have done that in Pittsford or some of the other suburbs, but I could do it here downtown,” Breissinger says.

The wholesale business has grown 25 percent over the last two years, Breissinger estimates, and he hopes the spring brings brisker sales for the newly opened retail shop.

“The retail store just opened in October and this was one of the worst winters, so we expect it to catch up now,” Breissinger says.

DL Home & Garden sells furniture and accessories primarily for living and dining rooms, with some limited bedroom items available through catalog as well. It carries high-end furniture brands, including Bernhardt, Noir, Pearson and Hickory Chair. The shop also has gifts, linens and jewelry.

“I think I have something for everybody here,” Breissinger says. “We try to focus on the more unusual and carry things you won’t find locally—things you expect to see in Boston, New York, California.”

He describes the store’s setting as contemporary with a mid-century modern flair. Pieces fit diverse styles to accommodate a traditional home, a lake house or an upscale loft apartment. Prices aim to fit almost any budget—whether a customer is buying a sofa or a rug. Lighting is a hot trend, Breissinger says.

“A chandelier can change the whole look of a space,” he says. “On the less expensive end, I have pendant lights made out of old seltzer bottles from Boston, New York City, with etchings on them. They cost $250 apiece. Then the most expensive chandelier is about $3,500.”

The business has two employees. Customers are able to visualize how pieces would look in their homes with the help of room settings in the shop complete with sofa, rug, end tables, lighting and art work. A hallmark of DL Home & Garden is customization, Breissinger says.

“Many things here are customizable—the fabric and nail trim on a sofa, the size of a rug, even the size of the art,” he says. “People want to be able to customize pieces to fit their space.”

Now that the dream of opening a retail store has been realized for Breissinger and Coutu, they are already planning ahead to the next project: adding 2,000 square feet next door at 275 Central Ave. for garden and patio furniture and antiques. The goal is to have the expansion in place by the fall.

“Every day we get more business,” Breissinger says. “We’re looking forward to growing here.”

Small Business is a biweekly feature focusing on entrepreneurs. Send suggestions for future Small Business stories to Associate Editor Smriti Jacob at [email protected]

5/15/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email [email protected]

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