NORTH CENTER — Ellen Sternweiler's advice to customers looking to score a deal at the closing sale of her shop, Bellybum Boutique, which is shuttering at the end of the month: "If you want it, come and get it."
Sternweiler said she's blown through half her inventory in the past two weeks after first holding a private sale and then going public with clearance items on Wednesday.
"It's flying out the store," she said of Bellybum's mom and baby merchandise.
Bellybum, 4347 N. Lincoln Ave., opened five years ago as a "green" option for families, offering everything from cloth diapers to organic toys.
"It's not my thing anymore," Sternweiler said of her decision to pull the plug on the shop. "There's a lot of people in that space."
The mother of three children with "developmental differences," Sternweiler is more focused these days on the Sensory Kids side of her business — developmental toys, therapeutic aids and sensory clothing — which she intends to continue in some shape or form at a different location.
"One in six families has a child with diagnosed developmental disabilities," she said. "The parents I cater to are looking for specific things for specific purposes. I'm not a toy store. You're not going to see 6,000 toys."
Sensory Kids, a store within a store at Bellybum, quickly became a destination for overwhelmed parents who appreciated Sternweiler's curated selection of merchandise.
"I'll have five items instead of 50,000," she said. "I made it easy because I spent thousands of hours researching."
As Sensory Kids began to draw an increasing number of customers from the suburbs and surrounding states, Bellybum's location became a liability given its distance from expressways, something Sternweiler discovered herself when she and her family moved from Lincoln Square to Wilmette in January.
"It takes me 40 minutes to get here," she said. "I can't keep doing the commute."
After she closes Bellybum's doors for good on March 26, "The first thing I'm going to do is take a break," said Sternweiler.
Then she'll get to work on Sensory Kids 2.0, the plans for which she's holding close to the vest.
"All I can say is the store is moving north," said Sternweiler. "It will be a different awesomeness, unlike anything else."
All merchandise at Bellybum is 25 percent off, with special online deals being posted to the store's Facebook page.