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UpsaDaisy success story: From pop-up proprietors to property owners

  UpsaDaisy owners, from left, Suzy Moore, Julie
  Smith and Julie Lawton, opened the boutique in
  March 2015. In May 2016, they purchased the
  building, making an investment in the rebirth
  of downtown Homewood.
(Photos by Eric 
  Crump/H-F Chronicle)

In 2014, three friends who had worked together  for years on community and school service projects decided to try a new venture.

Julie Lawton, Suzy Moore and Julie Smith, all of Flossmoor, created a pop-up shop as part of Homewood’s holiday shopping program.

Many pop-up shops are transient, but the ideal result, from the village’s perspective, is for prospective business owners to use the format to test a business idea and use the experience to help launch a permanent business. 

In this case, it worked.

  Shoppers browse UpsaDaisy’s 
  offerings during the 2016 
  Holiday Lights Festival. 

The mini-boutique Lawton, Moore and Smith set up was so successful, and they had such a good time working with patrons, they decided to go into business.

“So many people were telling us, ‘You should be here year round,'” Smith said. “That really had an impact on us.”

In March 2015, UpsaDaisy Boutique opened its doors at 18100 Martin Ave.

In May 2016, they became the owners of those doors.

The building includes their shop, three apartments on the second floor and another business unit on the south side of the building, the former home of Thai Rickshaw restaurant. Although it is connected to the adjacent Homewood Florist building, the two are distinct properties.

“We realized that by trying to own this building we would be protecting our space,” Smith said. “We also wanted a say-so in what went in next door.”

The trio were able to buy the building because sales in the boutique have consistently exceeded their expectations.

“We had a really great year, and we’ve had such a great response from the community that we also wanted to reinvest in the community,” Lawton said.

Location is commonly asserted to be the most important factor in real estate decisions, but timing counts, too. The three women said they were impressed with the prospects for downtown Homewood and wanted to be part of its resurgence.

They cited the village’s work in recent years to market the community and to encourage transit-oriented development (TOD) as a factor in their decision to purchase the building.
“The TOD push that they are doing downtown — we want to be part of that, too,” Moore said. “We’re in a great location to be part of that.”

They are working to find a tenant for the vacant space next door that will contribute not only to the health of their boutique but to the thriving downtown economy. Although they are open to ideas, they are leaning toward a food-oriented business, which fits well with the village’s vision for the future.

“It should be something the community wants, something that would enhance the entire area and complement us,” Lawton said.

In addition to the village’s efforts to attract new development downtown, the three said they appreciate the infrastructure improvements that have literally paved the way. The Martin Avenue streetscape project ― completed in 2015 ― ends just a few feet from UpsaDaisy’s front door. The new features ― Tivoli lights, brick pavers, columns, planters and a fire pit ― have helped create a welcoming atmosphere.

“Even when the weather is cold, you have people sitting out there by the fire pit,” Smith said. “In the fall, on a Sunday, people are out there with their newspapers, with their coffee. It’s just kind of a nice gathering spot.”

“Teenagers like to sit over at the fire pit, too,” Lawton said. “I like to see that because I have teenagers. Sometimes they’ll come over with a guitar and play music over there. It’s really nice.”

Smith has done her part to complement the streetscape. She added a bench and various decorative items to the patio in front of the shop, creating a peaceful little garden-like space.
The three are pleased with the relationships that downtown businesses have with each other, even those that are generally similar to theirs, like Art 4 Soul and Loulou Belle.

“One of the nice things is that we all talk with each other and try to not carry what the other is carrying,” Smith said. “We work on marketing campaigns together that would enhance the shopping experience in Homewood. The idea is to make it a shopping destination, which would enhance all of our businesses.”

The three have become active in the Homewood Business Association. Lawton is the president. 

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