BY ROSIE PIGA PIZZO
Local first-time mother Ali Etnier Sears looked forward to shopping at O’Child Boutique after the birth of her daughter, Emery, last September. A couple of months later, however, she learned that owner Nancy Bradley had decided to retire and planned to close the store.
“It was so sad to hear that they were closing,” Sears says. “It seemed like a store Bloomington needed to keep.”
A 2011 Indiana University Kelley School of Business graduate with majors in marketing and legal studies, Sears kept asking Bradley if she had found a buyer. Bradley kept saying no, and Sears kept thinking about purchasing the business herself. “I’d go back and forth,” she admits. “But in December, I finally decided to buy it.”
Sears, who managed several Sherwin-Williams paint stores after graduating from IU, reopened O’Child on March 1 with a fresh look, including new wood floors and softer colors.
“You will definitely see new brands,” Sears says, “but I loved a lot of the stuff Nancy carried, so those lines will remain the same.” Names such as Tea, Mud Pie, Giggle Moon, RuffleButts, Mayoral, and locally made Annie’s Clothesline continue to hang on the store’s racks. Clothes and accessories are available in sizes from newborn to 7.
Sears embraces Bradley’s original vision for the shop. “She wanted O’Child to be the gift you give. You know that person will be excited to receive it,” Sears says. “I know that was my reaction.”
Husband Lazarus Sears is a big supporter of his wife’s ownership of O’Child. “I’ve been part of small businesses my whole life (Sears & Sons Waste Removal),” he says. “It’s nice to have that feeling, to be more connected to the community.”
Sears says she plans to make a connection with customers, both old and new. “A lot of people know O’Child, but there are people who don’t. I want to try to bring in new moms, along with the grandmas,” she says.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, with plans to open on Sundays during the summer months. For more information, visit ochildboutique.com.