A couple of years ago, when I first moved into Fountain Square Mall, I started to make friends with the other business owners that I would learn to call my neighbors, and eventually some of my best friends. Across the hall, I continued to get to know Nancy Bradley, the (former) owner of O’Child Children’s Boutique. Nancy’s daughter, Jessica Shurr, and I had met months before at the Bloomington Print Collective, and became fast friends. She (Jessica) began to host Monthly Craft Nights at Sacred Heart Church just before we opened the store. We live in a small town . . . and sometimes, I Love it;) So, when Nancy revealed that she was selling O’Child (two years ago) and retiring, a little bit of my heart broke. I’d only been in the mall a few months, but my daily/weekly ritual of visiting with Nancy was going to be a thing of the past. . . that is until, I met Ali – the new owner of O’Child.
It’s funny now, to think about it. Nancy told me about Ali, and her family, and where she came from. I created judgments (as we all do) in my head, and I figured we wouldn’t get along- that we wouldn’t have much in common, that I had lost a friend and neighbor in Nancy and no one could ever fill that void. But now . . . two years later, I simply can’t imagine my life without Ali in it. There has never been a time in my Fountain Square Mall life where Ali wasn’t in it . . .
I can’t pin-point the first day I met her. Like I said, I can’t really remember a time now, without her in it. And honestly, I don’t want to. My daily ritual has been pretty set for the last two years. You all know it. If you come into the store on a weekday afternoon and I’m not there, odds are I’m across the hall at O’Child visiting with Ali (or once upon a time visiting with Hanna and Jordan at TGN). There was just something so genuine and honest and authentic about Ali, from day one, and we were just fast friends. From the start. No question. We’ve shared our life stories, our families, our small business hurdles and just about everything else. We laugh together. We share secrets and maybe sometimes even recipes and food (definitely a microwave, shop bags, change, and hangers too!).
I wanted this to be so much more eloquent, but I got emotional about two paragraphs in and lost my cool. Here’s the thing – Ali is leaving Fountain Square Mall. And man, oh man, am I sad about it. I’ve not let it set in yet. I haven’t gotten to say goodbye (because, remember, we live in a small town – we will see each other again!). I haven’t been into the store on a regular basis since Christmas (crazy after holidays things going on in the Halliday household). I’m going to miss her – Ali, I’m going to miss you.
Ali and Laz – and little Emery. And the new baby on the way (I can’t wait to meet you Baby Sears!). Ali, I’m going to miss your big bright smile, those bright shining eyes, that laugh and your stories about Emery falling off the bed, eating soap, Loving shoes, and her paci. I’m going to miss sharing stories with you and getting interrupted by customers coming into our stores. I’ll miss the usual gossip, and even arguing with you over politics that we’ll never agree on – but you know what – that’s ok – I still Love you! I’ll miss seeing your adorable outfits, getting to hear about your family – your mom, your dad, your grandmother . . . all the cousins and your friends. I’ll miss hearing about your trip to Disney and your mini marathons and your as close to perfect as any human can be – marriage. Speaking of – that Lazarus. You two are so great together – and I’ll miss seeing that . . . I’ll miss seeing him look at you like you’re the most perfect human being on the planet – because you are (for him). We all could learn a thing or two from you two! I’ll miss the way he runs the store (or doesn’t) when you’re over here, or trying to take a day off. I’ll miss sharing stories, and getting to hear his rendition of the same stories you tell, but with his spin on them. I’ll miss seeing him be with Emery, and being the most adorable dad in all of Fountain Square Mall. And Emery . . . oh, will I miss seeing her grow up! That giggle!! That little fall on the floor rump of hers, that wispy curly blonde hair as it curls up the nape of her neck and the way she walks and runs . . . oh I can’t wait to see her with her new little baby sibling. Wearing her wrap from TGN and matching mommy. I’ll continue to watch she and Baby Sears grow up . . . and I’m so thankful I got to be a part of your lives for even just a little while. I’m so glad that our paths crossed when they did . . . and we each got to know a little bit about a family that’s so different from ours, and yet, so much the same. I’m grateful for knowing you. My life is better for having met you.
If you didn’t know — Ali is selling O’Child. She has a growing family to take care of, and I couldn’t be more proud of all of them. Alison and Lazarus Sears. You will be missed. I Love you all. Don’t be strangers, you’ll always be part of our Fountain Square Mall/Gather family. ♥♥
(there’s always something to be said about having a business in our little mall in downtown Bloomington . . . we’re so blessed to be able to have the community that we do here . . . don’t think that is lost on me. I appreciate and am grateful for it daily.)