Oak Park's Fly Bird goes up for sale

Unusual independent retailer in search of an owner, as proprietor departs


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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Fly Bird, a quirky independent shop located in Oak Park's Avenue shopping district, is in danger of closing, unless a new owner can be found.

Oak Parker Julia Nash, 43, opened the store roughly eight years ago, at 719 Lake St., and built a following over the years, dealing in unusual items such as thumb-wrestling masks and Pac-Man cookie cutters.

But Nash sent out an email to customers last week, announcing that she was putting the store up for sale to return to school. She studied nursing 15 years ago, but dropped out when she got pregnant with her second child.

The sale has nothing to do with Fly Bird's profitability, Nash said, as the store remains successful. She hopes to strike a deal by the end of February, or the store may have to close.

"The sooner, the better. I would love to have it wrapped up by the end of January, but I don't see how possible that would be," she said. "School has gotten so much more difficult — to do both."

In her email to customers, Nash said she's looking for a new "headbird" who is "enthusiastic, passionate" and "dedicated to bringing life and excitement to the eager and devoted shoppers that I call my friends." Anyone interested can email Nash at headbird@fly-bird.net.

"I am so proud of what I have accomplished at Fly Bird these past eight years and so excited for what lies ahead," she wrote. "Thank you to all of you who have shared so much laughter with me over the years. It has been one of my greatest pleasures."

Fly Bird is located in the annex of the Medical Arts Building, a local landmark that was once the tallest building in Oak Park. The landlord, Jack Sheehan, estimates that there are a couple of years left on the lease, and they'd likely negotiate new terms with whoever takes over the 1,100-square-foot space.

"She's going to be greatly missed," Sheehan said. "She's been a good tenant, and it'd be a shame if that store went away."

Rachel Weaver, an Oak Parker who co-owns the Book Table a few blocks west on Lake Street, hopes Fly Bird survives. She shops there frequently, and has done cross-promotions with Nash in the past.

"I have a hard time imagining Oak Park without Fly Bird," Weaver said, "so I really hope she is able to find someone who is as innovative and dedicated as she is to what Fly Bird has been doing over the years."

Reader Comments

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Posted: January 5th, 2012 6:33 PM

Someone will probably buy it and turn it into a beauty supply shop.


Posted: January 5th, 2012 6:12 PM

It's a great store & such a part of what makes OP great. I'm sure a difficult decision, but good for her going back to school!

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: January 5th, 2012 5:07 PM

Make that "unique". I recently purchased one of the scarves made by the Maisha Collective that were sold through Fly Bird.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: January 5th, 2012 4:52 PM

A very cool and unigue shop. Best wishes to Ms. Nash!

Julie from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 5th, 2012 4:48 PM

I hope she's able to sell it to a new owner! Especially since it's a profitable business--it would be a shame to see it go.

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