By Kelly Youngblood
Sara Ressing has been toying with the idea of opening her own children’s play cafe for quite a while.
The New York native, who moved to Urbana last July, is working out the details and plans to open up The Cuterie Children’s Boutique next spring in Urbana.
In the meantime, she’s hoping a pop up shop this weekend at Lincoln Square Mall will help give her some insight into what the local community would like to see in a fresh, new playspace.
Ressing, a mom of two boys ages 1 and 3.5 years old, says she’s thrilled her husband’s job change has brought her family to Urbana.
“We were lucky enough to move over here to Urbana, for hopefully the long term, and what a perfect place it is to open a play cafe and children’s boutique,” said Ressing.
Ressing has degrees in zoology and education, and most recently worked as an academic advisor. With a new baby, a move to a different state and a pandemic, Ressing decided to take the last year off to spend more time with her sons.
It also gave her an opportunity to focus on her business idea. Ressing’s vision for The Cuterie Children’s Boutique includes a play cafe as well as a retail shop that offers sustainably sourced, ethically made products.
“The Cuterie is all about sustainability, and thinking about the good of the future,” Ressing said.
She foresees play structures and imaginative play areas for older children as well as a space for younger kids. Coffee drinks and kid-friendly shareable platters will be on the menu as well as other items. Ressing would also like to hold special events during both day and evening hours to cater to working parents too.
For parents and caregivers, Ressing hopes the play cafe offers an “opportunity to meet each other to relax and let their kids enjoy learning through play.”
“What inspires me about opening a play cafe is a sense of community, kind of why we chose to live in Urbana because the community is so vibrant,” said Ressing.
For now, Ressing is planning a spring pop up show this weekend, May 1 and 2 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lincoln Square. The shop will include toys and clothing geared towards infants through six years old.
She’s hoping the show will offer her an opportunity to gauge the community interest and talk to parents about what they want to see in a brick and mortar business.
“I’m planning on opening the storefront probably in the spring of 2022. I was hoping for fall, but I’m not entirely sure,” said Ressing. “I’m just trying to hash out real estate and location. There’s lots of moving parts to opening a business, especially a storefront, especially during a pandemic.”