Wilmette, Community

Yellow Bird taking flight for downtown Wilmette

Yellow Bird is joining the flock and migrating a few blocks southwest — but staying in Wilmette.

The stationery and gift shop is flying the coop of Plaza del Lago and will set up its new nest at 1199 Wilmette Ave. in downtown Wilmette. Yellow Bird has acquired the space in between Orvis and Panera Bread just east of Green Bay Road.

“I was born and raised here. We wanted to keep our business in this community that has been so supportive of us,” Yellow Bird owner Cindy Manhoff said.

Manoff said Yellow Bird, which has operated in Wilmette for more than 40 years, plans to close its Plaza del Lago location by March 15 and reopen in the new space by April 15. But, she said, more precise opening details will be shared on Yellow Bird’s social media.

In downtown Wilmette, it will join three other previous Plaza del Lago businesses: Hanig’s Footwear, Chantilly Lace, and Giggles and Giraffes/La Colonna. The quartet are just some of the local shops to exit Plaza del Lago over the past year following a change of ownership and amid renovation plans.

Manhoff said in December that the plaza’s ownership, WS Development, had misled her on the Yellow Bird’s future in the shopping center, and Yellow Bird was exploring its options, eventually — with a bit of help from the Village of Wilmette, Manhoff said — finding the spot in downtown Wilmette.

Manhoff thinks the shop has an opportunity to build on its already broad and loyal customer base. Since Manhoff began sharing news of the shop’s pending move, she said customers have been more supportive, some making purchases so the shop has less to pack and others offering to actually help the store’s employees do the packing.

Manhoff is also looking forward to operating a store within a more logistics-friendly space. Yellow Bird’s current storefront is oddly shape, causing for awkward twists and turns. The new space is a simple rectangle.

“We love it,” she said. “It’s slightly smaller than our store here, but we’re shrinking our office and the backroom in the new location. I think the shape will be easier to deal with.”

WS Development purchased Plaza del Lago in 2022 and plans to restore and enhance the shopping center. Other shops to leave the plaza since the switch include Rosati’s Pizza and Char Crews, both of which closed, and Plunkett Interiors, which relocated.

The current tenants at Plaza del Lago include national chains Jewel, CVS and Starbucks and local stalwarts Convito Cafe and Market and Burhop’s Seafood.

WS Development President Samantha David told The Record more about plans for Plaza del Lago’s future in an exclusive interview in January.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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