Jason Youngberg holds an old television tube. He turned a similar tube into a TV with Blue Tooth. His store Modern Antique Radios features old equipment and some converted pieces, as well as vinyl records and CDs. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
Business, Feature

Nine unique businesses are part of Shops on Sterling

Downtown Flossmoor has a candy store. It has eight other specialty shops, including a women’s clothing boutique, a plant store, a unique T-shirt shop and a holistic health business.

Shawnda DeBose took over a small space in the Shops on Sterling and created a candy store, Ruby Ella Sweets. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
Shawnda DeBose took over a small space in the
Shops on Sterling and created a candy store, Ruby
Ella Sweets. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

Maybe you didn’t realize there were so many options at the corner of Sterling Avenue and Flossmoor Road, but they’re all there in unique spaces in the Shops on Sterling. Many people identified the space as Gypsy Fix, but that’s just the largest store at the corner. 

There are nine stores in the remainder of the building making up the Shops on Sterling: Modern Antique Radios, J. O’Blooms Plant Happiness, Sweet Finds by Marge, GCA Unlimited Apparel, Allison Turner Nail Studio, 9inety 2wo Minerals & More, K&K Kollections, Wired: The Design Boutique and Ruby Ella’s Sweets. 

Visitors can access all the stores through the corner entrance, or the side door at 1056 Sterling. The stores are open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, although some have longer hours.

Morgan Sullin of Gypsy Fix acts as the manager for the space. When she and building owner Marty Max first agreed to the arrangement, he told her to take her time. 

“He said fill it as you go, and in my mind I thought it would take months, but it happened (to fill up) in two weeks, and it’s just been non-stop,” Sullin said. “We have a really nice group of people in here. We’re like a little family. Everybody has their own business but we really all do try to help each other out. It’s been a really great couple of years.”

J. O’Blooms and Modern Antique Radios were among the first tenants in the space that once housed a real estate agency.

Jason Youngberg, owner of Modern Antique Radios, has old radios and turntables, a collection of vinyl records and CDs. He said a friend told him about the space, and he decided it would be a good fit for him. 

Jason Youngberg holds an old television tube. He turned a similar tube into a TV with Blue Tooth. His store Modern Antique Radios features old equipment and some converted pieces, as well as vinyl records and CDs. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
Jason Youngberg holds an old television tube. He turned a similar tube into a TV with Blue Tooth. His store Modern Antique Radios features old equipment and some converted pieces, as well as vinyl records and CDs. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

He’s got a long, narrow space at the front of the Shops on Sterling. After nearly two years at that location, Youngberg said people are now calling him asking if he’s interested in old items or whether he can convert something for appropriate uses today, such as Blue Tooth access.

Jessica O’Malley of J. O’Blooms Plant Happiness also has gained a following. O’Malley is a master gardener who did outdoor plantings but decided to switch gears to house plants. The concept of having a small space in a larger environment appealed to her. The store has everything from a two-inch succulent to a four-foot fiddle-leaf fig. She also does a clinic for those who are having trouble keeping their plants thriving.

For some store owners, finding the Shops on Sterling was word-of-mouth. Gregory Austin of GCA Unlimited Apparel learned about the space from shop owner Tonya Byrd-Neeley of Wired: The Design Boutique. Austin’s shop features T-shirts and hoodies, sizes small to 3X, with inspirational sayings.

“I did a pop-up here, and Morgan (Sullin) asked if I would be interested in a space, and the rest is history,” Austin said. “I signed my lease in January and I’ve been doing pretty well.” He identifies his 10 X 10 rental as his brick and mortar space, in addition to sales at outdoor and indoor events.

Nellsyn Bertke lets her daughters Lydia, center, and Marley select candy at Ruby Ella Sweets in the Shops on Sterling. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
Nellsyn Bertke lets her daughters Lydia, center, and
Marley select candy at Ruby Ella Sweets in the
Shops on Sterling. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

After 30 years in the retail industry, Byrd-Neeley started her own women’s boutique in Hazel Crest before moving to Flossmoor 18 months ago. She also operates K&K Kollections featuring girls and teen clothing in a second suite. 

“I think renaming the space will give us our separate identity as a collective so that people know that there are several shops on Sterling,” Byrd-Newley said.

Ruby Ella Sweets features lots of old school and nostalgic candy such as Charleston Chews, Pixie Stix and Smarties necklaces. Shawnda DeBose of Homewood opened the business in July 2021. Her clientele is both kids and adults. A former educator, she said even as a young girl she wanted to run a candy store, and the pandemic gave her the opportunity to start a business.

“When I first came here there weren’t any spaces available, but when (Morgan Sullin) heard about my idea she invited me back and this room was actually the storage closet. My dad, uncle and I came in and built walls, laid a floor and painted,” DeBose said of her space tucked into a back corner.

At 9inety 2wo Minerals and More, a holistic care store, owner Jessica Headd of Homewood is promoting sea moss and self-care items. Headd said sea moss, or Irish sea moss, provides all the vitamins and minerals the body needs. It can be eaten, but Headd said her husband, Alexander, makes great smoothies that are available in a cooler. The store also features crystals and stones, and loose teas.

Her girls were asking to go to Ruby Ella’s Sweets. That’s how she learned of the Shops on Sterling. She opened her business in April. 

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