bluebird boutique Opens to Brisk Business
Angie Armstrong has had a longtime dream of owning a women’s fashion store.
On April 1, after two months of do-it-yourself remodeling work, that dream became a reality with the opening of the bluebird boutique at 212 W. Green St., Urbana.
Three weeks later, the Urbana native is still giddy at having her own business.
“I’ve just had this dream,” she said. “I’ve always loved fashion and to make women feel good about themselves."
Three weeks is too early to judge whether a store will be a success or failure, but Armstrong is highly encouraged by initial sales, saying they are going "very, very well.”
"One thing about a boutique is you can get something unique, something not many other women will be wearing," she said.
Part of Armstrong’s early success could be attributable to her lifelong roots in Urbana. She’s worked for more than 20 years for the Urbana School District; currently she works mornings as a community involvement coordinator and occasional substitute teacher. Her husband, Troy Armstrong, is an electrician and co-owner of Aladdin Electric.
The two worked side-by-side remodeling the store from February 1 until the April 1 opening, using old barn siding inside as shelves and for the base of the checkout counter. They also repainted the interior, repaired the floor in one of the store's two rooms, added new track lighting and created a changing room for customers. Troy built the glass decorative checkout counter himself and Angie reports she's had a number of customers ask if he could build custom-built kitchen counters for them.
"My husband has been my biggest cheerleader and supporter," Armstrong said. "I had the dream and he helped it come alive."
bluebird boutique (name is purposefully lowercase) is housed in a city-owned building that was built around 1930 and was originally a filling station called Blacker's Service Station. An historic Tudor cottage-style building, the building was acquired by the city in 2004 to eventually beomce a part of the Urbana Free Library campus. Armstrong leases the building from the city.
Armstrong buys clothing for her store by making periodic trips to the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Nothing in the store costs more than $100 and some items are less than $10.
The store’s offerings “are my style,” she said. “I shop for things I like.”
Selections in the two- room store include t-shirts, jeans, slacks, shorts, rompers (shorts and shirt in one), jumpsuits, dresses, tops, shoes, handbags, jewelry and bath items. Sizes range from small to 3X.
The store is open Tuesday through Saturday, with the hours from 1-6 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday; 1-7 p.m. on Thursday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The store’s name is in honor of her late father, Chuck Johnson, a local sanitary hauler who died in 2004.
“When he died suddenly, my mom prayed for a sign he was doing OK,”Armstrong said. “She prayed for a bluebird to come. The day of his visitation and the next day, a bluebird would not leave her backyard.”
A picture of the bluebird can be found on a high shelf inside the store.