Although many local retailers are struggling during this tough economic climate, WishList reported a boon this holiday season.

"Christmas was really good," said Suzanne Zarrilli, one of the store's co-owners. "We really surprised ourselves. It has been a tough year but our holiday season was really nice."

Increasing its selection of children's and `tweens' inventory, three weeks ago WishList took over the retail space located next door to its present Post Road location.

Along with co-owner Carla Strobel, Zarrilli initially opened WishList 12 years ago to attract fashion-conscious teens. With backgrounds in both the design and retail industries, the two Westport residents hoped "to bring fun and edgy clothing to sleepy suburbia," according to its Web site, www.shopwishlist.com.

The business was undoubtedly a success; however, the owners realized that as their young customers grew up, it became necessary to provide more contemporary adult clothing lines to accommodate their growing taste in more sophisticated styles. "We took care of our young customers when they were 10, then 12, and then 16 years old," Zarrilli explained. "We had watched them grow up and we knew we needed to find a way to meet their needs."

Over time, as two more stores opened in Darien and Greenwich, WishList became the go-to place in lower Fairfield County to purchase clothing for young adults by contemporary designers.

With its recent expansion, though, WishList will be able to provide young children and pre-teens with fun, exciting retail collections, too.

"We now have the room to bring in smaller sizes and people will be able to shop for children ages six to 14 in our new area," she noted. "We couldn't do this before our expansion."

Featuring a `boutique' kind of atmosphere, similar to those found on Madison Avenue, teens and adults will continue to find blue jeans made by contemporary designers and beautiful formal dresses at WishList.

The store was recognized by Connecticut Magazine last year as the best place to purchase high-end denim. Zarrilli said, "We were so excited to receive this wonderful award. However, we really are the biggest resource for blue jeans in Connecticut, with J Brand being our best-selling jeans."

Zarrilli feels fortunate that the store has culled loyal customers who look forward to looking and feeling good in brand-name, contemporary fashions. "In our Greenwich store, and I'm sure here in Westport, too, we have three generations from one family coming in to shop," she noted.

She compliments her staff of 60 full and part-time employees, which are led by manager Kate White. "She has been with us for 11 years," Zarrilli said.

There are three more employees who have worked at WishList for more than a decade. "Our employees stay with us for a long time because we are a family here," Zarrilli said. "Our girls work closely with our customers and they pride themselves on knowing all of their names and something about them personally."

Personal and attentive service is one of WishList's trademarks, she added.

"We are a local business and we love knowing our customer's names," Zarrilli said.

In addition, it is not unusual for a young mother to come into the store and ask for assistance with finding stylish attire. "Our girls are so good at this," she noted. "They love when people come in and just say, `dress me.'"

WishList's spring clothing will be available shortly, and Zarrilli said that she will be buying fall fashion pieces to fill the new children's space, as well as the adult boutique, in the near future. "People of all ages have been affected by this economy," she said. "Because we offer fashion at a reasonable price in the same kind of atmosphere that you might find on Madison Avenue, people like to shop at WishList."

For more information, stop by the Westport store at 606 Post Road E., call (203) 221-7700 or visit www.shopwishlist.com