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Revival returns to Ped Mall building after ‘major facelift’


Customers shop during the reopening of Revival on the Ped Mall on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. — Adria Carpenter/Little Village

Revival reopened its doors on the Ped Mall to shoppers on Thursday after closing them more than a year ago due to building renovations.

“I’m excited to reopen,” said founder and owner Sheila Davisson. “It feels so good to be back in our space. It feels like home with a major facelift.”

The renovations completely overhauled the space, bringing back the hardwood floors and removing the dry wall to reveal the original brick walls, which were then painted.

“The original footprint of Revival is still there, but a lot of it’s kind of been reconfigured,” Davisson said. “We have about the same square footage, but it’s just been put back together a little bit differently.”

Revival has been a fixture in downtown Iowa City for 18 years. The woman-owned thrift and consignment boutique sells new, used and vintage clothing and accessories, offering brands that follow ethically produced and environmentally friendly practices.

Its storefront moved to a temporary location above Jimmy John’s on East Washington Street in 2020 during the renovation of the 127-year-old building known as the Crescent Block, purchased at auction by the Tailwinds Group in 2017. That work, part of a project to construct an apartment building behind the historic College Street block of buildings, also involved updating the facades of the businesses facing the Ped Mall and creating a new home for Riverside Theatre on the third floor of the building.

Sketches submitted to Iowa City Council Economic Development Committee by Tailwinds Group.
Sketch submitted to Iowa City Council Economic Development Committee by Tailwinds Group.

“I feel like we officially have the trifecta. Now we have film, we have theater, we have music,” Davisson said of the Ped Mall. “We have all those venues for all those kinds of things now with The Englert, FilmScene and Riverside. It’s great.”

Davisson had planned for renovations six months before the pandemic, and it ended up coinciding with the temporary business closures caused by COVID. In July 2020, they moved to the Washington Street location. But running a business out of a second-floor retail space, which she had intended to use as a photography and office space, brought its own challenges.

Revival adapted by moving their catalog online, offering private shopping appointments and pop-up shopping downtown.

“We feel extremely grateful that people really supported us, and we were able to grow our online store,” Davisson said. “It’s something we’ve wanted to do for years but had really never made or found the time to do it. So that’s one great thing that’s come out of this.”

Revival will continue to expand their online shopping and hold weekly drops on Thursdays for people that want to shop from home. But with the new-and-improved space back in operation, customers are free to browse and talk with staff.

“Just having the brick-and-mortar, in-person experience will be great because it’s kind of what we’re known for,” she said. “It’s fun to see people in person, and we miss seeing all our customers. That’ll be great.”

Ongoing construction outside Revival storefront on Nov. 10, 2021. — Adria Carpenter/Little Village

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