It was January of 2016, Chicago was what it is in January, cold and left little to no desire to leave the house. I was working for a wholesale showroom during market season selling children's clothing to retailers, our little one was no longer walking but running and I spent my evenings dreaming on the internet and managing the Windy City Bebe blog and small e-commerce site. Now if you know me, you know that I am filled with ideas, dreams and often have to come down from the clouds. Its not unusual for me to send my husband some strange idea in the middle of the day or night picking his brain to see how much more convincing it would take for it to be achieved.
And that night back in cold January a commercial real estate ad popped up on the side of my browser. And what would any self-respecting dreamer do other than "click" away? It was click by click by click and I found "It" the holy grail, A place I thought would be a great investment, a place we could rent to a small business and soon we would be commercial Landlords. Now fast forward two weeks later, after a site visit (YES I CONVINCED MY HUSBAND THAT HE NEEDED TO BUY A COMMERCIAL UNIT) we left laughing, laughing at how little we knew about commercial real estate, how insane we were to think that we could make it work and left with the memory of pretending we were landlords for a day. The realtor informed us the space was also for rent... My husband looked at me and said something along the lines of (i dont remember the exact words because to this day it is still shocking) "you have always dreamed of having your own store, what about renting it".
Now hold your horses! MY OWN STORE???
It was my fashion school dream and senior thesis presentation that I would have my own store someday. I rehearsed the ins and outs- I had the ideas, I worked the back end in wholesale and now that dream was right there in front of me.
Fast forward 4 months later and it was opening day. I still remember the feeling of wanting to run away, feeling like this was all too good to be true. The traveling, the late night hours, the days without sleep. Hustling, dreaming, blood, sweat and tears, all to get it together. We opened our doors May 1st 2016 and have never looked back.
(and this guy has had the time of his life the last two years)
In September 2016 we were awarded an amazing honor of "Best of Chicago"
from Chicago Magazine
. Months to follow awards came, and articles were published people were flocking into the store to see what we were all about.
It was in February of 2017 that we re-launced our e-commerce platform, what felt like months of work manually entering each product and reviewing every piece of inventory, had finally come to fruition. (What some may not know- 99.9% of this entire business is handled by me) E-commerce picked up, and we were up to our neck in orders by the end of the year.
We filmed a tv show with See Chicago
, even had a fashion segment on WVON
radio, our world was spinning!
Another thing happened during this time.... foot traffic slowed. There was talks all across the fashion world that big box retailers were struggling. Fast-fashion stores like H&M had reported their first losses per quarter in YEARS. It was time for a evaluation as it was apparent our physical retail marketplace was changing.
After much evaluation and the happiness that we have felt with the overwhelming amount of support via our e-commerce platform, along with the wanting to expand into marketplaces we have decided to close the doors of 1423 W. Belmont on March 31st 2018.
Our customers are a loyal bunch, you have come to us for gifts, personal items and rushing in to outfit your babes in our awesome new finds each week. I have watched pregnant mamas wobble in, with the fresh face of the unknown lingering upon them. I have shaken many a little hand and danced to tunes from Mr. Dave every Tuesday morning for a year. I can not tell you how many goldfish crackers I have happily picked up from our floor. You too have watched my little one grow, from every image of him repping our favorite brands, or sharing our awesome around town experiences. I have taken hundreds of polaroids of our very own Windy City Bebe's and as I write this I look at all of them with tears in my eyes.
I have made real friends with so many of you, whether a friendly hello via social media or popping in just to chat! (Im going to miss that SO much) I am feeling humbled and blessed to have shared this amazing journey with you.
I want you all to know that I am happy. I am happy that I get to expand our product selection to you via our e-commerce store, I am glad that I get to announce an exclusive collection coming oh so soon, and I am excited that we can devote more time to pop-up shops and sharing more of our experiences with you via our Blog.
So heres some more exciting news!
Starting this Saturday March 3rd you can enjoy 50% off your entire purchase** (excluding S/S 18 clothing) in store only! (we will be emailing special discounts online as well!)
We are kicking things off with a customer appreciation event that Saturday with extended store hours from 5:30-8:30 pm! This is the official kick-off of our store closeout sale, and things are expected to go FAST!
You can rsvp for the event here! --->>>> RSVP
If you can't make it Saturday please do swing by anytime during store hours in March, to just say "hi", or stock up on amazing deals!
And PLEASE help us spread the word!
Lale, Andrew & Aydin
** Promotional gift certificates may not be applied to sale